Sgt Arthur Duxbury, MM
No. 201976, 2nd/7th Battalion, Lancashire Fusiliers
Arthur Duxbury was born circa November 1896 in Bolton, Lancashire. He was the third child of John Thomas Duxbury and Florence Duxbury (nee Worthington). Both Arthur’s mother and father were originally from Ramsbottom. They were married in February 1886 in the Bolton registration district, with Florence being 9 years younger than John. After their marriage the coupled moved around a lot. Arthur’s paternal grandparents (John & Isabella Duxbury) farmed 100 Acres at Brown Barn Farm on the Bradshaw side of Watling Street and Arthurs’ parents are shown as living there in 1891.
After his parents marriage in 1886, they lived at Brown Barn Farm which belonged to his parents. At the time of Arthur’s birth his family were at 18 Livingstone Street in Halliwell, Bolton. The houses on and around Livingstone Street have been demolished and replaced with more modern housing. The style of the new housing suggests that they were removed as part of mass ‘slum’ clearance in the 1970’s.
In 1901 they were living at 8 Hartley Street, Bolton, in a 2 bedroom terraced house, typical of northern mill towns in this period and Arthur’s father is a Cotton Carter. The street is now demolished, but was at postcode BL1 3TA.
By 1911, Arthur’s mother Florence was widowed having lost her husband in 1906. The family were living at 66 High Street in Walshaw. Arthur was 14 years old and was working as a stable boy at a bleach works, most likely using the skills he had learned at his grandfathers farm. The bleach works is most likely to be Lowercroft Works which is a 10 minute walk away from the family home in Walshaw. Lowercroft Works was owned by John Whitehead of the prominent, industrialist Whitehead family of nearby Haslam Hey House.
Due to his grandparents living at Brown Barn Farm, it is likely that Arthur would have attended Affetside School or the Chapel’s Sunday School at some time, which is where the link to Affetside is formed.
In April of 1916, when Arthur was 19 years old he married Ethel O’Connor and was living at Ivy Cottages, Kirklees Street, Tottington. Arthur was employed at the nearby Tottington Mills Printworks. There were very few houses on Kirklees Street at this time, and Ivy Cottages still exist at the bottom of Kirklees Street and form a short terrace row of three brick built houses.
In June of 1916 his son Edmund was born.
Enlisting with the Lancashire Fusiliers
The minimum age for enlistment as a soldier during the 1914 – 1918 war was 18 years of age. At the outbreak of war volunteers were required, but by January 1916 the Military Service Act was passed through Parliament which imposed conscription on all single men aged between 18 and 41, although certainly occupations were exempt.
Arthur would have turned 18 years of age in January of 1914 and thus became eligible for military service, but conscription was not enacted at this time, so the call up was not compulsory. The local Regiment was the Lancashire Fusiliers who had a large barracks in Bury, Lancashire, and records show Arthur was enlisted in Bury about September of 1916 and was placed into the 2/7th Battalion. Army Service No. 201976 and he held the rank of Private at enlistment.
The 2/7th Battalion, Lancashire Fusilliers was raised at Salford in August 1914 as a home service (second line) unit of the Territorial Force. They then moved to Mossborough, near St Helens, Lancashire. The 2/8th Battalion, Lancashire Fusiliers was also formed at Mossborough. On the 8th of February 1915 they joined 197th Brigade, 66th (2nd East Lancashire) Division at Southport.
During 1915 those men who had not volunteered for service abroad were transferred to other home service units and the battalion prepared for overseas service. They trained at Crowborough, East Sussex in May, moving to Tunbridge Wells in October and then moving to Hyderabad Barracks, Colchester, Essex in March 1916 where they took over defence of the East Coast in that area.
It is likely that Arthur joined them whilst they were based at Colchester. The Battalion proceeded to France, landing at Le Havre on the 28th of February 1917. They were in action during The Operations on the Flanders Coast (Operation Hush) and The Battle of Pilckem Ridge, The Battle of Menin Road Ridge, The Battle of Poelcapelle
In 1918 they saw action during The Battle of St Quentin, The Actions at the Somme Crossings, The Battle of Rosieres. Due to heavy losses they were withdrawn in April 1918, although the Divisional Artillery and 541 Company ASC of the Divisional Train remained in action.
The Division was reduced to a training cadre and on the 30th June 1918 they returned to England, transferring to 74th Brigade, 25th Division and moved to Aldershot.
On the 9th of July the 2nd/7th Battalion was disbanded and reformed as the 24th Battalion.
Battalion War Diary
From reading the 2nd/7th Battalion, Lancashire Fusiliers, War Diaries for the period we can see that Arthurs Battalion landed at La Harve on the French coast in February 1917 and by March 1917 they were on the front line undertaking trench warfare. The diary is very comprehensive, however, the War Diary entry for March of 1918 is shown as “Missing”, so we have very little information on exactly where or when Arthur was killed in action.
The diaries note that at the end of 1917 the 2/7th Battalion were heavily involved in fighting at Ypres and near to Passchendale, and by the end of November had been pulled back to billets at Zuytpeene, where they spent the whole of December training. The last diary documents are dated 28th February 1918 and they had finished training and were mobilised to head to Villers-Carbonnel which to the east and towards the Western Front. The next documents in the file are dated from 1st April 1918 and the 2/7th were billeted in Seux, Northern France which is to the west of Amiens and well away from the Western Front.
Other sources show that the 2/7th Battalion was mobilised to help fight against the German Spring Offensive which started on the 21st March 2018 and was a major battle on the Western Front, which later included the Second Battle of the Somme.
From records we know Arthur was awarded the Military Medal. It was an award for gallantry and devotion to duty when under fire in battle on land on the recommendation of a Commander-in-Chief in the Field.
The Military Medal was the other ranks’ equivalent to the Military Cross (MC)
This was posted in the London Gazette on the 14th January 1918, and is most likely to have been awarded due to action undertaken in late 1917 when the 2/7th were near to Ypres and Passchendale. We can note at this time Arthur has been promoted from Private to Lance Serjeant.
On the 23rd March Lance Serjeant Arthur Duxbury MM. was killed in action in Northern France.
The local newspaper, The Bury Times read:
“Mrs Duxbury, of Ivy Cottage, Kirklees, Tottington, has received official intimation that her husband, Sergeant Arthur Duxbury, Lancashire Fusiliers, was killed in France on March 23rd. He joined up about 18 months ago, and was a Military Medallist. He was 22 years of age, and was formerly employed at the Tottington Mill Printworks. His name is on the roll of honour at the Guardian Angels, Elton. His brother, Norman Duxbury, is now in France serving with the Lancashire Fusiliers.“
Serjeant Arthur Duxbury’s remains were interred at Marchelepot British Cemetery, but his, and others graves were destroyed in later battles. A headstone was placed in his memory at Roye New British Cemetery in northern France.
As Arthur had served overseas he qualified for, and was awarded the Victory Medal and British WWI War Medal as indicated on his medal card. His name and rank would have been inscribed on the rim of the two medals. The two medals, if worn togther, were popularly known at the time as “Mutt & Jeff” from the newspaper cartoon strip of the time.
Arthurs’ General Service medals would have been delivered in the post to his next of kin at the end of the War, unlike gallantry awards recognising acts of bravery which were sometimes awarded formally in person. Most service medals were received after the war. Presumably they would later have been passed down through the family.
As Arthur was killed in action his next of kin would have also received a Memorial Plaque and Scroll with the King’s message.
Sgt Arthur Duxbury is remembered at the following locations:-