Today we commemorate the 101st anniversary of the death of another local man.
Private Arthur Stennett (51964), 1st Battalion, Sherwood Foresters (Notts and Derby Regiment) who was killed on 12th April 1917.
Arthur was born in Billingborough in 1897, the 4th of 7 children born to Thomas Stennett, a farm labourer from Billingborough and his wife Alice Taylor.
in 1911, Arthur is living with his parents in Whiteleather Square, Billingborough, Lincolnshire. The census gives him an age of 14 and he is listed as a farm labourer.
Arthur joined the 1st Battalion Sherwood Foresters (Notts and Derby Regiment) unfortunately due to the loss of records in a fire in WW2, it is knot known exactly when he enlisted in Sleaford.
Arthur’s brother Thomas fought in WW1 and was serving in Egypt with the Machine Gun Corps, formerly the Lincs Yeomanry. Another Brother Walter was serving with the Lincolnshire Regiment.
We can only really look at Arthur’s military movements in the last month before his death, which saw his battalion in France, on the Somme to the North East of Peronne at the start of April.
The Battalion moved into brigade reserve at Nurlu, Company officers reconnoitred the main line of resistance.
The Battalion improving the billets at Nurlu. The commanding officer reconnoitred the main divisional defensive line, accompanied by the company commanders.
Conference of commanding officers with the Brigadier at Guyencourt on the general outpost scheme. Company commanders reconnoitring the outpost line held by the second Northamptonshire Regiment, the battalion relieved second Northamptonshire Regiment in the outpost line at 6 PM. Battalion headquarters at W .26.a.1.6 “C” company relieved “C” company of the second Northamptonshire Regiment in the outpost line.
The battle patrol platoon was ordered to advance at 10 PM to drive back any enemy patrols met with, and to occupy a line of Observation running from Chapel Crossing (X.7.C.3 ½) to W.5.D.20.95. The right patrol advanced on Chapel Crossing, which is captured after some opposition during these operations one German was killed and one of our men wounded slightly. This patrol pursued a party of 4 or 5 of the enemy who ran away from Chapel Crossing for some 500 yards in the direction of Villers-Guislain, and eventually losing them in the snow and sleet which is falling at the time, returned to Chapel Crossing and dug in. Various newly dug trenches and snipers holes were encountered and in one of them fire was burning. These trenches average about 6 ft deep and to 2ft wide and have a rough overhead cover. The entire patrol advanced to two points about W.12.a.1.7 and W.12.a.9.2. Little opposition was encountered the enemy usually in pairs, clearing out in every case after a few shots were fired. The left patrol worked in two groups; one about 100 yards south of the Revelon-Gouzeaucourt Road advancing through W.5.d central and the other about 500 yards north of the road. This patrol encountered considerable opposition from enemy riflemen and one of our men was wounded, but by assisting each other with flanking movements they were eventually able to reach their objectives near W.5.d.2.9, w.6.c.1.7 and w.5.d.5.4. The C company Battle Patrol Platoon (Lt A.C. Wilson) reports that he personally saw from 10 to 12 of the enemy during his advance and that Very lights were fired from Vaucellette Farm. (X.13.c.8.4 ½.) At frequent intervals during the day the enemy shelled the neighbourhood of Revlon and Copse No 1 (W.17.a.)
“C” company holding the outpost line and Chapel Crossing at 2.0 pm the 25th Brigade on our left attacked Gouzeaucourt and advanced their line to meet our line. At 2.30pm “D” and “B” companies were employed filling up craters under the supervision of the 15th Field Company Royal Engineers. About 2.50 pm a party of the enemy crept up under cover of the road to within 15 to 20 yards of the left Lewis gun post in the main resistance line and a hand to hand melee ensued but the enemy were repulsed after a sharp encounter. Some on the enemy was severely wounded and one of our men slightly in the hand.
At 3.0 pm the infantry on our left entered Metz, enemy shelled the cross-roads at D.5.c.8.6 during the afternoon. “C” company actively engaged with the enemy who were driven off, but we lost a few men reported “missing”. Enemy again occupied Chapel Crossing. At 8.0pm “A” company relieved “C” company in the outpost line. “B” and “D” companies digging the main line of resistance from 8.30pm on the 4th to 4.0am on the 5th.
“A” company holding the outpost line. Enemy artillery active on the trenches dug for the main line of resistance and in the valley between copses 1 and 2 from 11am to 2.30 pm. Black smoke wqas observed issuing from direction of Gonnelieu from 11am to 11.25am. Good observation can be obtained from new trenches of the Revelon-Gouzeaucourt Road and south end of Gouzenaucourt. Small parties of the enemy seen on Gouzeaucourt Road. About 10pm “C” Company sent out patrols and regained Chapel Crossing without serious opposition from the enemy and “A” company advanced on hill 135 in conjunction with the Rifle Brigade meeting with little opposition. The battalion was relieved by the 2nd Northamptonshire regiment at 9.30pm.
The Battalion rest at Heudincourt. Battalion headquarters at W.20.d.9.8. All companies spent the day imposing billets and digging shelter trenches.
Company commanders reconnoitred the outpost line for taking over from the 2nd Northamptonshire Regiment on the evening of the 8th. Enemy artillery active on the night of the 6th / 7th on the quarries at W.16.c.0.7 and during the day enemy artillery shelled all cross-roads and entrances to Heudicourt, Nurlu and Sorel-Le-Grand. Enemy aeroplanes patrolled over Heudicourt at 9.0 pm.
The commanding officer reconnoitered the line during the morning. Enemy aeroplanes patrolled over Heudicourt about 1.0pm but were driven off by the fire of our Lewis guns. The battalion relieved the 2nd Northamptonshire Regiment at 9.30pm. Battalion headquarters at W.3.d.8.2 “B company holding the outpost line on the left and “D” company on the right. The Battle Patrol Platoon sent out 4 patrols in front of the outpost line from the left to W.12.a.central. The patrol on the left met a party of the enemy at W.6.a.2.3 behind Hill 135, who ran away on being fired at. The patrol in the centre under the command of Lt A G Wilson, were held up by barbed wire about W.5.b.5.5. and in attempting to negotiate the obstacle met with a fusillade of fire and a machine gun opened on them and continued firing after they has passed our outpost lines. Many deserted emeny trenches were discovered.
No 50602 Lt A Jarratt and No 10345, Sgt G Ferguson awarded the Military Medal for gallantry in action.
Situation normal our Artillery demonstrated from 1:30 PM to to 3 PM and three patrols of the battle patrol platoon were pushed out in the direction of Gouzeaucourt during this demonstration and engage various parties of the enemy. They quickly reach their objectives killing one German and return safely to our lines. In the neighbourhood of Arras the offensive commenced and all objectives will gay and about 10,000 prisoners captured. During the evening our artillery shelled several points and at 8:30 PM two patrols from “B” company were sent out to reconnoitre the neighbourhood around goes a court to ascertain if the enemy at gone back, but returned having observed one-party of three of the enemy only, walking in the direction of Gonlieu about 10 PM.
B and D company occupied in the outpost line. The commanding officer visited the outpost line, accompanied by the adjutant. Weather very changeable and slow falling at frequent intervals. Patrols were sent out from B company about 8:30 PM to ascertain the strength of the enemy around Gouzeaucourt and to return if fired on. They discovered a strong host of the enemy on a ridge beyond hill 135 and were fired at. Numerous red white and blue very lights were sent up by the enemy was these patrols were out but they regained our lines without any casualties. The battalion was relieved by the second Northamptonshire Regiment at 10 PM and talk over billets at Heudicourt W.15.d.1.9. Captain T H Watson (1st Worcs Rgt) attached to the battalion and appointed second in command.
The battalion spent the day improving billets during the morning and filling up craters and repairing the Sorel-Houdicourt Road. During the afternoon the commanding officer attended the Brigade conference at Sorrel to discuss the plan of attack against Gouzeaucourt and on his return how the conference of all officers giving minute instructions as to the operations for the night of the 12th.
During the day the battalion made all preparations for the attack. The commanding officer and all company officers reconnoitred the line. At 6:30 Battalion headquarters move to Queens Crossing (Q.34.b.3.9.) and the companies lined up behind the line of resistance held by the second Northamptonshire Regiment. “B” company on the right and “D” company on the left. “A” company in support of B Company and “C” company in support of “D” company. After the barrage lifted at 8:30 PM the companies Advanced and the battle platoon attacked the village. Advancing with great dash the company is swept aside all resistance and gained their objectives and consolidated their final objective, the sunken road from Metz to Gouzeaucourt. Sending out patrols to drive back any enemy patrols encountered. The casualties amongst our companies being very few but the enemy suffered heavily. The battle platoon met with considerable resistance, being held up by the thick wire in front of the village and encountering a strong post of the enemy behind the wire, but they broke through and disperse the enemy (driving down into the battle platoon of the second East Lancs who captured 12 of them) and occupied the village. The battle platoon suffered a number of casualties during the night from enemy shell fire, which continued until the morning of the 13th. The weather during these operations was intensely adverse. Snow fall in the all afternoon and evening and first coming in the early morning.
Situation quiet. The enemy shelled battalion headquarters intermittently during the day. Whether fine that intensely cold. At 8:30 PM the battalion was relieved by the 12th Suffolk Regiment and we then moved to the right to relieve the Scottish rifles.
Arthur Stennett died of wounds during the 12th April as a result of the operations described.
Grantham Journal Saturday 16th June 1917
MORE SAD NEWS has reached here. Mr Tom Stennett of the Square has been officially notified that his son, Pte A Stennet (Sherwood Foresters) has died of wounds received on April 12th. Nothing has been heard of him since that date, and the parents experienced many weeks of suspense and anxiety. Another son is with the forces in Egypt.
Pte Geo Nicholson (Notts and Derby’s transferred from the K.I.R) has also been reported as missing. Another son, Walter is with the Lincolns. The friends of those heroes have every sympathy.
Boston Guardian Saturday 23rd June 1917
Died of wounds on April 12th, Pte A Stennett, Sherwood Foresters, of Billingborough.
In memory of Private Arthur Stennet, 51964, 1st Battalion, Sherwood Foresters (Notts and Derby Regiment) who died on 12 April 1917 Age 29. Son of Thomas and Alice Stennett, of The Square, Billingborough, Lincs. Remembered with honour, Thiepval Memorial.
Arthur is also remembered on the Billingborough Memorial.
Rest in Peace.