Date of Death:
Marital status :
Withers Arthur Thomas
351st. Siege Bty. Royal Garrison Artillery
11 april 1918
Son of Arthur and Jane Withers
Married , in 1913, Gertrude Longshawn
Had a son, Harold, born later that year
Mill hand at Bliss Mill
Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery
Plot XXVI , Row H Stone 5
4 august 1914
20 september 1914
30 march 1915
30 april 1916
8 april 1918
12 april 1918
Enlisted in the 4th Battalion (Territorials) Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry.
He attended two week summer camps at West Lulworth in Dorset, Bustard Camp on Salisbury Plain and Shorncliffe
In Kent from 1911 to 1913.
Was embodied into the regular army and promoted to Lance Corporal.
Signed an agreement to serve outside the United Kingdom, which Territorial soldiers were not obliged to do.
He was posted to France with his Battalion, now known as the 1/4th, landing at Boulogne
His time on the front line was dogged by illness, being hospitalized with German measles
Appointed acting Corporal
Admitted to hospital with influenza and fever
After 5 years service he declined to re-engage and returned home for discharge
He did however return to the front, serving as a Lance-Bombardier with the Royal Garrison Artillery, joining the 351st Siege Battery at the front
Wounded by shrapnel whilst fighting during the German Spring offensive
Died of wounds
Shortly after he was wounded Mrs Withers received a letter;
'Dear Mrs Withers,
I very much regret to inform you that your husband was wounded this morning.
Although hit in several places, the leg, arm and hand, I do not think you have any fear as to his ultimate recovery.
I hope it may be some comfort to you to know that I prized Bombardier Withers as quite one of the best of my NCO’s and am genuinely sorry to lose him.
Ever since he joined us in November I believe he has always given the greatest satisfaction.
It must also be a great consolation that your husband is for a time at any rate not of this inferno, and I think can safely say he will be sent home to England.
I should be very glad to hear of his progress
I remain, yours sincerely HH Davidson, Lieutenant RGA.
PS I omitted to mention that Bombardier Withers was hit by shell splinters while fighting his gun in a rather bad strafe.'
Another letter followed from the Chaplain of the 10th Casualty Clearing Station on 12th April 1918
'Dear Mrs Withers,
I am very sorry to have to tell you that your husband Bombardier A T Withers was brought to this hospital with many severe wounds on April 9th.
He had lost much blood and to improve the chances of his recovery, blood from another soldier was transfused into him, but even this in the end proved of no avail, and although he seemed to revive for a time he passed away yesterday.
I spoke to him several times and also prayed with him.
He was interested to know that I was familiar with your town and beautiful church.
He asked me to send his love to you and to tell you not to worry.
I was with him some time and had a nice chat with him, only a few minutes before he died.
He was sitting up in bed and seemed a little stronger.
He asked me to help him lie down and I believe he passed away a very short while after.
He was very patient and brave and did not suffer great pain.
I know you will carry out his wishes as well as you can and bravely carry on without worrying and look forward with the hope of seeing him again.
I enclose a photograph of our cemetery where we laid him yesterday and also a cross which I gave him and which he held in his hand as we prayed together, and after kissing it he asked me to send to you.
I also send a little lock of his hair which I am sure you will value.
With kind sympathy Yours sincerely Chaplain
PS I think you would like to know the name of the man who gave a quart of blood to your husband, although his sacrifice proved of no avail.
Bombardier Anscombe, Elms Farm, Isfield Lewes.
It would be kind of you to write and thank him.
A further letter arrived, sent on 21st April 1918
Dear Mrs Withers,
I was very sorry indeed when I heard, two days ago, of the death of your husband.
As his section officer I had always found him the most able and cheerful of our NCOs and was more sorry than I can tell you when he was wounded.
The battery was being heavily shelled at the time and it was largely due to his pluck and endurance his gun kept firing.
He was quite conscious when he was taken away and seemed quite cheerful.
I do not think he was in much pain.
We had all hoped he would recover and reform with us again and were more sorry that he died.
All ranks of 351 Siege Battery offer you their heartfelt sympathies and sincerely hope you will be helped to bear your great loss.
I remain, your sincerely E N Elford 2nd Lieutenant RGA.
A few days later a final letter about her husband’s death arrived;
'Dear Mrs Withers,
I cannot say how shocked and grieved I was to hear by your letter that your husband had passed away.
As I have been away from the battery for several days, this was the first intimation I have received.
Please accept my deepest sympathy and I pray God may give you strength to bear the blow.
I hope also you may derive some comfort from the thought that your husband has given his life in one of the most sacred causes in the world’s history.
Such noble sacrifices are not without their reward.
We all miss him very much and fully realise how great the loss must be to you.
With remembered expression of condolence.
I remain your sincerely, HH Davidson Lieutenant RGA.
His second son, Raymond, had been born the month before he died. Gertrude Withers remarried in 1926.