Unit: 8th Battalion
Service Number: 32651 [Formerly: Private 9151 Royal Engineers]
Date of Death: 2 October 1917 – Killed in action
Age: 23 years
Cemetery / Memorial: Tyne Cot Memorial
Grave / Panel Ref.: Panel 125 to 128.
The Wainer family are long established in the village of Ruskington. According to his enlistment papers, Arthur was born on the 3rd December 1894, the youngest child of Tom (Bricklayer) and Ellen (Helen) [née Prince] Wainer.
He had nine older brothers and sisters, Annie Mary (died, aged, 3 on 11 February 1879), Florence Helen (died, aged 7, September 1884), Elizabeth (died, aged 4 months, 28 June 1879), Tom Prince (born 26 September 1880), John Richard (b. 24 June 1883), William (b. January 1885), George Frederick (b. 16 December 1886), Rebecca Louisa (b. January 1889) and Nellie (b. October 1891). (Annie Mary, Florence Helen and Elizabeth, who all died in infancy, are buried together in the Parish Churchyard, near the SW Wall.)
In 1901 (Census RG 13/3048) the family were living at Princes Yard, Ruskington, Lincolnshire [Two houses from the Warne family whose son Private Harry WARNE, died of wounds on 11th July 1916.].
By 1911 (Census RG 14/19618) they had moved to High Street North, Ruskington, although Nellie and Arthur were the only children still living with their parents.
Arthur was working as a “Bricklayer’s Assistant”, no doubt with his father, however, his mother died in the December quarter 1914 and East Border of Ruskington Cemetery, Old Plot, Graves 56.
At the time of his enlistment he was 5 ft. 9 ins (1.75 m.) tall and weighed 9 st. 11 lbs. (62.1 kgs.). He gave his occupation as a “Bricklayer”.
N.B. Arthur’s older brother, A/Cpl. S/9324 Tom Prince Wainer, served with the King’s Shropshire Light Infantry (Pt. 14931) and the Royal Army Ordnance Corps. Arthur’s Service Papers say that Tom served with “BEF Russia“.
Arthur’s mother Helen died on 11 December 1914, aged 61, and his father, Tom, on 16 December 1925, aged 75. They are buried together in Ruskington Cemetery – see below.
On 13 March 1918 Arthur’s widowed father, Tom, received his effects back from the MOD, amounting to £3 19s. 1d [£3.96 – a relative value of about £290 today (2023)]. Later he also received £3 War Gratuity – about £220 today.
With effect from 30 April 1918 Tom was also awarded a Pension of 6s per week. [£0.30 is equivalent to about £22 p.w. today.] He was still living on High Street North, Ruskington.
Arthur enlisted at Ruskington, Lincolnshire on 8 December 1915 and was immediately posted to the Reserve, where he remained until he was mobilised on the 4 January 1917.
“The Sleaford Journal” (29 January 1916), named “RECRUITS – Of the single men attested under Lord Derby’s scheme, Messrs. C. Cutler, A. Wainer, F. Kirton and R. Trimingham have this gone into training.”
He was posted to the Royal Engineers on the 7th, at the Lincolnshire Regiment Depot, for assessment. This was recorded as “unsuitable”, as he failed the eyesight test, and on the 13th and he was re-posted to the 3rd Training Reserve the next day.
Arthur was eventually posted to France on 26 April 1917, embarking from Folkestone and landing at Boulogne the following day. He was posted initially to the 31st Base Battalion, Northumberland Fusiliers at Étaples on 27 April 1917, but two weeks later, on 12 May 1917, he was transferred again, this time to the 8th Battalion, York and Lancaster Regiment.
The 8th (Service) Battalion had been formed at Pontefract in September 1914 as part of K3 (Kitchener’s Third New Army) and came under orders of 70th Brigade in the 23rd Division. The Battalion moved to Frensham, and on to Aldershot in November and on to Hythe in February 1915 and in May to Bordon.
The Battalion was posted to France and landed at Boulogne on 27 August 1915. On 18 October 1915 it transferred with its Brigade to the 8th Division. On the first day of The Battle of the Somme (1 July 1916) The 8th York and Lancaster Regiment took 680 men and 23 Officers over the parapet, all the Officers were either killed or wounded and of the Battalion only 68 returned. The Battalion had effectively ceased to exist as a fighting unit and was withdrawn that evening. On 17 July 1916 it returned with Brigade to 23rd Division.
Arthur joined his Division just in time for the start of The Battle of Messines, 7th – 14th June 1917, and the 23rd Division subsequently were engaged at several phases in the Third Battle of Ypres – The Battle of the Menin Road Ridge, 20th – 25th September; The Battle of Polygon Wood, 26th September – 3rd October; The First Battle of Passchendaele, 12th October, and The Second Battle of Passchendaele, 26th October – 10th November 1917.
A month after joining his Battalion, on 8 June 1917, Arthur was wounded, receiving a gunshot wound to his back. He was admitted to the 12th Casualty Clearing Station at Needinghem on the 14th, transferring to the 2nd Canadian General Hospital at Le Tréport a week later (21st). During this Battle (Messines) his Battalion suffered 74 Officers and men killed in action and died of wounds, most, 63, on the 7th and 8th, when Arthur was wounded.
On the 8 July 1917 Arthur re-joined his Battalion in the field, but was killed in action on 2 October 1917. During the actions of The Third Battle of Ypres (31st July – 10th November 1917) Arthur’s 8th Battalion lost 2 Officers and 59 men, mostly at the time of the First Battle of Passchendaele. However, Arthur was killed in action on 2 October, during the period covered by the Battle of Polygon Wood.
On 28 September the Battalion relieved the 11th Sherwood Foresters in the front line and the next day enemy shelling led to 4 Other Ranks killed and 12 O.R. wounded. The War Diary for the next two days, 1st – 2nd October reads:
“ 1st October 1917 – 5.30 a.m. – the enemy placed a barrage on our front and support lines and kept it up until 5.45 a.m. when it was lifted to the area – TOWER: B.H.Q – INVERNESS COPSE. It slackened somewhat at 7.00 a.m. but the area was heavily shelled throughout the day, and the artillery did not quieten until 6.30 p.m. Two of our dugouts were destroyed. Another barrage was put along the line TOWER – B.H.Q – INVERNESS COPSE at 7.15 – 7.30 p.m. and the S.O.S. was fired by the unit on our left, the 9th Yorkshire Regt.
2nd October 1917 – Another practice barrage, to which the enemy replied very forcibly. His shelling seemed to miss our front line, but his shooting on the support and reserve lines was very accurate. Enemy sniping active. Our trenches were improved and firestepped. Parties of the enemy were seen on the ridge in front of J.15.d.6.5. carrying timber and stores and were sniped.
There was desultory shelling throughout the day. At 7.10 p.m. the S.O.S. was fired by the Australians on the left, and immediately our artillery responded the enemy commenced to shell our support area and reserve lines very heavily until 9.00 p.m. This shelling was particularly severe, and postponed the relief by the 2nd K.O.S.B. which should have commenced at 8.00 p.m. However at 9.00 p.m. the relief was proceeded with and completed by 1.15 a.m. ”
On 3 October at 1.30 a.m.: ” The Battalion proceeded to RIDGE WOOD where it encamped for the Night. Our casualties for the term 30th Sept. – 2/3rd Oct. were:- Officers – 1 killed & 1 wounded O.R. 8 killed; 50 wounded; 3 gassed; & 10 sick. ”
CWGC Records show that the 8th Battalion suffered 11 losses, killed in action, between 30 September and 3 October 1917, including Arthur. All but one, like Arthur, have no known grave and are commemorated with him on the Tyne Cot Memorial.
On the 3 November 1917 “The Lincolnshire Chronicle” printed the following tribute to Arthur:
” ROLL OF HONOUR – Yet another old Ruskington boy has paid the extreme penalty for his King and Country, Mr. Thomas Wainer, stonemason, High Street, received official notice from the War Office that his youngest son, Pte. Arthur Wainer, of the Lincolns, had been killed in action in France. He was only 22 years of age.
MUFFLED PEAL – On Sunday morning a muffled peal was rung on the Church bells in honour of the memory of Ptes. Fred Whitton and Arthur Wainer, who had recently been killed in action. “
Arthur is also Commemorated on the Grave of his parents in the East Border of Ruskington Cemetery, Old Plot, Graves 56 and 58.
The inscription on the base of his parents’ grave states that Arthur was: “Killed in Action at Inverness Copse”.
- I am grateful to John Hill for the photo of Arthur’s name on the Tyne Cot Memorial.
- I am also grateful to ‘Chris’, via the Great War Forum for the War Diary extract.
- ‘The Lincolnshire Chronicle” 3 November 1917, p. 3