ARTHUR WILLIAM ACKEHURST

Private, G/23200, 8th Battalion, The Queen’s (Royal West Surrey Regiment).


Died 2 February 1916. Aged 19. Born 1901 36 Randolh Road, born Dover 1898, son of Arthur & Mary Ackehurst (Gas Works Labourer)12 Edgar Road. Buckland, Dover, Kent.


Cemetery: Jeancourt Communal Cemetery Extension. Ref: I.D.18. Soldiers Died Lists: Service No as, G/23200. and Died: 02/02/1918.


DGW shows Arthur’s date of death as occurring on 2 February 1918 which is probably correct as his battalion had moved to the Ypres Salient in the Poperinghe area early in January 1916, with an advance party going on 4 January and the remainder on the following day. Also Arthur’s regimental number would suggest that he was a 1917 enlistment, and the information provided by the CWGC re Jeancourt Communal Cemetery Extension is of significance as regards to Arthur’s demise. Jeancourt was a German hospital centre and the extension to the communal cemetery was used alternately by Commonwealth and German troops; a substantial German plot remains in the northwestern part. The Commonwealth burials, made by the 59th (North Midland) Division and other fighting troops, began in April 1917, continued until February 1918, and were resumed in September 1918. Further burials were added after the Armistice when graves, almost all of March and September 1918, were brought in from the surrounding battlefields. An alternative reason for the date confusion would be if Arthur had been attached to another regiment that was serving in the Department of the Aisne, France on  2 February 1916 which seems highly unlikely. It would seem likely that Arthur was recorded by the then IWGC with the wrong date of death quite simply by a slip of the pen or misreading casualty card information from his regiment. In view of the fact that Arthur is the first casualty on the war memorial who had died whilst serving in a battalion that was in the 18th (Eastern) Division, it seems right to add briefly something about that division here. The 18th (Eastern) Division was formed in the middle of September 1914 as part of Kitchener’s Second New Army. The division was extremely fortunate in its first appointed General Officer Commanding, he being Ivor Maxse, who had been brought home from commanding the 1st (Guards) Brigade, an officer well known for his ability in training skills and for demanding nothing but the very highest standards from  all ranks. He remained in post as the G.O.C. of the 18th (Eastern) Division until January 1917, when he was replaced by another highly capable commander, Richard Philip Lee. major General Lee remained in command for the rest of the war. With the advantage of ed a very high e of the best in the British Expeditionary Force. It had to its members, it being the second highest number the twelve won by the 55th (West Lancashire) total M having only two GOC’s, both of such a calibre, the 18th Division reach peak of efficiency and became on

eleven Victoria Crosse’s awarded awarded to a non-regular division, after Division, and also gained over 4,300 other awards; but at a price as the divisions casualties amounted to 46,503.

A W Ackehurst