Monday, 14 March 2016

Death of a Kempston Teacher

Elstow Moot Hall c.1920 [Z49/54]

Tuesday 14th March 1916: Corporal Arthur Ford of Kempston has died of wounds received fighting with the 5th Northamptonshire Regiment. After his school days at Mr. Bates’s School in Bedford he joined the teaching staff at Mr. Owen’s School in Kempston; after this he went to Training College at Peterborough, from where he volunteered for the army. Arthur Ford was well known at both Kempston and Elstow, where he attended Sunday School at the Moot Hall and taught at the Memorial Hall. On Sundays he regularly visited his uncle, Mr. William Cirket, and always stayed for the evening service at the Memorial Hall where he became a member of the Bunyan Church. In a letter of sympathy to the young man’s father Captain F. W. Butler wrote:
 “He had endeared himself to all the men in the Company, especially the officers, and we are all greatly grieved. The operation on the 2nd and 3rd of March was a minor one, but the casualties in my Company were the greatest we have had since we came out; all my officers were either killed or wounded, and when I got up on to the platoon on the right I found your son had taken command of his platoon, his officer and sergeant having been both wounded. I reported his gallant conduct to the Colonel. Your son was a most efficient soldier, and one who was marked down for promotion. … The last I saw of him was when he was being carried down the communication trench, and he was quite collected then. I understand he was shot in the back near to the spine, and he died in the hospital yesterday.”
 A letter from a fellow soldier describes the circumstances in which Corporal Ford was shot:
 “Last night our people blew up some mines, and after occupying the craters, it fell to No. 1 Platoon to connect the craters with our old front line, by digging a communication trench. Out on top, digging for all they were worth, they hd no cover, so could not all escape. Among the wounded was Arthur. I have seen the stretcher bearer who attended to him, and he tells me that the bullet, coming from one side, struck him close to the back. Arthur himself was very cheerful, realising, I suppose, that he was still in God’s good hands.”
Source: Bedfordshire Times, 17th March 1916

No comments:

Post a Comment