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The Men Who Died



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Arthur was born in Heystbury Parish, Warminster, Wiltshire to William, a farm labourer, and Grace Whatley in 1876. He is shown on the 1891 Census, aged 15 years, as an errand boy.  He left the family home and moved to Bedwellty, Ebbw Vale where he joined the Army on the 4th July 1894. His attestation shows that he had been living in Bedwellty for the previous 12 months and had been working for a Mr Jacob Davies as a haulier. Arthur was 18 years and 7 months old when he joined the British Army as a private signing on for 6 years in

the 4th Battalion South Wales Borderers in Brecon.

In 1911, at the time of the census, he was staying with his family in Wiltshire by which time he is a sergeant.

He then spent some time at the Depot in Brecon and was well known in the town. During 1913 he spent a month on recruiting duties in Pontypool and in early 1914 he spent some time away from Brecon training to be a colour sergeant.

On 8th October 1913 Arthur married Caroline M.E.A Skinner of 5, John Street, Brecon. The marriage record states that Arthur was 37 years old, a bachelor, and a sergeant in the South Wales Borderers living in the Barracks, Brecon. Their daughter Annie was born in 1914. The family were living at 22, John Street at the time of Arthur's death.

Company Sergeant Major Arthur Whatley

South Wales Borderers, 1st Battalion, service no. 4680

Killed in Action on October 31st, 1914 in Ypres, aged 39

Commemorated on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial

Douglas was awarded the Military Cross in 1918 for gallantry. During an enemy attack he kept his guns in action under heavy shell and rifle fire, until forced to leave by enemy bombers at close range. Later he gave great assistance to troops defending a village and was instrumental in checking the enemy's advance. It was reported that he had set a fine example of courage and determination.

He was killed 29 September 1918. The Major commanding his company wrote to his wife on September 30th

‘It is with deep regret that I have to inform you of the death of your husband. He was killed during our advance yesterday at 1-30 pm.  He was 200 yards ahead of the infantry with two guns, and was directing the fire of one of his guns when a sniper shot him through the neck. The bullet passed through his spine and he died instantaneously. We are burying him tonight, where he fell. I knew your husband at Grantham and it was a great joy to me when he joined my company. He was my best officer, and his men would follow him anywhere. I was hoping to have him promoted shortly, as he richly deserved it. He died a soldier's death in face of the enemy, as he always said he would like to, if fate destined his death in the war.’