Biography of Private Arthur William Lane (31282)
7th Battalion (Prince of Wales Volunteers) South Lancashire Regiment
Died 1st November 1916
- Name: Arthur William Lane (Registered William)
- Date of birth: 1876
- Place of Birth: Bourne, Lincolnshire, England
- Date of Birth Registration: January – March 1876
- Place of Birth Registration: Bourne, Lincolnshire, England
- Name: George Hubbard (Lane)
- DOB: 1836
- Place of Birth: Stoke Ferry, Norfolk, England
- Occupation: Ostler groom
- Name: Caroline Elizabeth Mason
- DOB: 1850
- Place Of Birth: Grimston, Norfolk, England
- Marriage: 1868 King’s Lynn District
Siblings: (Name), (DOB), (POB)
- Jane Lane, 1869, Grimston
- Arthur William Lane, 1876, Bourne
- Edward Lane, 1878, Bourne
- Albert Henry Lane, 1881, Bourne
- Agnes Elizabeth Lane, 1884, Bourne
- Harry Lane, 1887, Bourne
- Gertrude Lane, 1890, Bourne
- 1881: William is living with his parents in West Street, Bourne, Lincolnshire
- 1891: William is living with his parents in West Street, Bourne, Lincolnshire
- 1901: William is living with his father in West Street, Bourne, Lincolnshire
- 1911: William is living with his brother Harry and sister Agnes at 1 Baxter Cottages, West Street, Bourne, Lincolnshire. The census gives him an age of 35 and he is listed as a painter.
- No marriage for Arthur has been found and because of his age we can assume that he never had the opportunity to marry.
- None found
- None found
Soldier’s Died In The Great War
- These records show that Private Arthur Lane, 31282, 7th Bn, Prince of Wales’s Volunteers (South Lancashire) Regiment was killed in action on 1st November 1916 in the Western European Theatre in France and Flanders.
Effects Left T0
- Sister Gertrude Allen
- Sister Agnes Eaton
- Niece Minnie Gummitt
- Sister in law Mrs Georgina H Lane
- Brother Albert
- The British Medal
- The Victory Medal
- Bourne, Roll of Honour in Bourne Abbey Church
- Bourne War Memorial in the Memorial Gardens
© Picture taken by South Lincolnshire War Memorials
© Picture taken by South Lincolnshire War Memorials
Military Service Timeline
Arthur’s (William’s) military records have not been found and were possibly destroyed in the warehouse fire in the London Blitz and so his movements during the war have been pieced together from what can be found in other records. In the warehouse fire over 60% of all WW1 Full Service Records were destroyed.
We are not sure exactly when Arthur as he was known to the Army joined the Army as he had served no more than 1 year when he was killed in November 1916. We do know that his brother Harry joined in Bourne in March 1916 and we have to assume that Arthur joined at thew same time as this was the new rules of conscription. The soldier’s died in the great war ledger gives his place of enlistment as Lincoln however it also mentions that he is formerly no 25110 of the South Staffordshire. There is no evidence from pension or medal rolls that he was ever in the South Staffs. There is a W J Lane 25110 of the Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry, although this William Lane was discharged in 1919 so there could be confusion in the Soldier’s War ledgers.
In January 1916 a bill of Parliament had been passed to allow conscription to the Armed Forces for any single man aged between 18 and 41. This conscription came into force on 1st March 1916 and therefore we must assume that Arthur was conscripted into the Army. He would have become 41 in the period of between January 1st to March 31st 1916 making him one of the eldest recruits possible.
Arthur’s posting to the 7th Battalion South Lancashire Regiment would be due to then major influx of men that conscription brought to the army, men were no longer automatically posted to their local regiment.
This major influx and the need to train men lead to the Training Reserve Battalions being formed on the 1st September 1916, whether Arthur had completed his basic training before under the auspices of the South Lancs or was one of the first influx of men for the Training reserve is not known because of lack of documentary evidence of the date he started training.
Unfortunately training before the training reserves depended upon the unit you were training with and this could be between 3 and 5 months typically, added to this the unknown enlistment date of Arthur we currently do not know when he first joined his Battalion in the field in France
All we can say for certain is that Arthur was serving with the 7th South Lancs in November 1916. We turn to the Battalion Diaries to tell the story of Arthur’s final days, the battalion serving under the 56th Brigade at the time.
On the 21st and 22nd October the Battalion has been out of the line and undergoing training in the Brickfields at Albert (Somme) and so on the 22nd the Battalion left their bivouacs and went into the line in relief of the 12th Royal Sussex Regiment. They moved by companies at 100 yards intervals to Crucifix Corner (W11.d.8.2) where a halt was made to issue the men with rations. Bombs etc.. By 1pm the guides had arrived for the platoons and 30 minutes later the movement into the front line began platoon by platoon at 250 yard intervals.
By 8.15pm the relief was reported as complete and the report stated that the relief took a long time due principally to the fact that the trenches were in bad condition after the recent rain. There was only one communication trench available, which together with the front line and support trench was fairly heavily shelled throughout the relief.
Unfortunately without knowing Arthur’s Company we cannot give any real detail, especially as the 7th Battalion Diary available on line is indexed with the National Archives at brigade level, which does not appear to give the finer detail of what happened to the Battalion only their orders and movements.
The Battalion diary reports the following deployed positions:-Front line, right to left, 1 platoons C company, A companySupport line, right to left, 2 platoons C Company (Bainbridge Trench) , 2 platoons D company (Ransome Trench) then B company.
Total Casualties for today (remember this is just moving into line under heavy shelling) 7 other ranks and 4 officers wounded.
The Battalion would remain in Bulgar + Ransome trenches for the 23rd and 24th and undergoing many enemy bombardments and barrages of their positions. On the 23rd a German attack was witnessed on the Royal London Regiment frontage.
The 25th of October would see the Battalion back in Aveluy village in billets and a day spent cleaning up and drying. During this day the Commanding officer gave a lecture to all officers about the upcoming operation.
The movement orders were very short notice and the operation would be cancelled by Brigade the next day again at very short notice much to the annoyance of the Battalion officers.
Later on the 26th a working party of 200 men were ordered to map reference W.27.C with picks and shovels. The party arrived late owing to the short notice to move and the allowed time to get the tolls from the transport line. Eventually they found some tools but by the time they arrived it was discovered that the wrong map reference had been given by Brigade. During this time it was also reported that Z day for the planned operation had once again been put back.
On the 27th October the Battalion left Aveluy to relieve the Royal London Regiment in reserve at Wood Post and Leipzig Redoubt. They were in position by 12 noon with Battalion HQ and A company at Wood Post and B,C,D companies at Leipzig Redoubt. They were to stay in the trenches on the 28th and by the 29th they reported a quiet day.
The 29th would see them cleaning and improving the trenches and they also received information that the next day they would relieve the Royal Welsh Fusiliers in the front line although no word had come through from Brigade about this relief.
The next day (30th October) Brigade would give orders postponing the offensive. The Battalion did relieve the Royal Welsh without any casualties. Further orders were received that Zero day for the offensive was now pushed back to the 5th.
At 2pm it started to rain heavily and this continued throughout the night. The trenches were consequently in a filthy condition and the men were soon up to their knees in water.
The 31st of October reported a quiet night and a lovely morning meant that it was excellent for observation. All the time this day was spent trying to improve the state of the trenches. Orders issued to the bombing officer and Officer Commanding C company that patrols were to be sent during the night. Five patrols were sent out but no contact with the enemy was obtained.
Messages were sent to all companies around 5.30pm that there was suspect enemy relief that night. The Enemy had put a heavy barrage on the front line, Ransome, Bulgar and Bainbridge trenches, Splutter Road and Lucky Way between 4pm and 5.30pm hence the idea that there was to be a relief by the enemy.
Transport were in the middle of issuing rations and several of the Transport personnel were wounded, but no damage done to the mules. The number of reported casualties was said to be light.
For the 1st November the Battalion were spread across Stuff Trench, Ransome Trench and Bulgar Trench. This was to end up being Arthur’s last day and so we will transcribe the Brigade level Battalion Diary, as usual the level of information is more strategic than at Battalion level and therefore the full detail cannot be given.
5am to 6am – Usual early morning bombardment by our artillery.
8am – Message received from Brigade re relay post for runners transmitted to companies. Fairly quiet all morning.
8.30am – Relief of Battalion by 7th R Lon R commenced and went on all day. One of the worst reliefs experienced. One company 7 R Lon R started from their destination 3 minutes late. In afternoon the enemy shelled as usual the communications trenches heavily causing several casualties to
7th R Lon R.The battalion were meant to be moving to billets in Aveluy1.30pm – A & D companies arrive in billets3pm – C company arrived from the front line but no sign of B company5pm – 1 platoon of B company arrived4pm – message received from Brigade announcing Z day to be 5th November8.30pm – B M 474/s received accelerating Z day to 4th November9pm – B M 93/G received announcing relief of 56th Brigade by 59th Brigade
9.30pm – Remainder of B company reported arrived in billets. Men all very ??? And covered from head to foot in mud.
Although the Brigade level Battalion Diary is the only one we can currently use for reference we do have another account of the Battalion for October and what would have been Arthur’s last week.
Battles Of The Somme – Battle Of The Ancre Heights – 22/10/1916Location: Schwaben Redoubt.
As a necessary preliminary to Haig’s projected autumn offensive, Gough’s Reserve Army were required to secure the Thiepval Ridge and the upper Ancre.
Attempts on the positions were initially made on 1st October, but due to heavy residence and bad weather the positions were not fully secured until 10th November. 19th (Western) Division in II Corps, Reserve Army (Fifth Army from 30th October), moved into Stuff Trench and Regina Trench, north of Thiepval, and south of Grandcourt, on 24th -25th October.
7th East Lancashire Regiment repulsed a strong German attack on the Schwaben Redoubt on 25th October.
The large offensive spoken about in the Battalion Diaries was also reported in another source thus:-Battles Of The Somme – Battle Of The Ancre – 13/11/1916Location: Grandcourt.British victory.
The attack of the British Fifth Army against German First Army along the River Ancre between Thiepval and Beaumont Hamel was the final large-scale British attack on the Somme before winter set in.
Arthur (William Lane) was killed in action on the 1st November 1916 in what would look like the Battalions relief from the Trenches.
Arthur is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial to the missing of the Somme which would mean that he had no known grave.
As with all research, in the future more documents may be digitised and released meaning that we can give more details with regards to dates and Arthur’s own involvement in the war.
The pension record card for Arthur gives his dependant as Mrs Gertrude Allen, C/O Mrs Holt, 26 Edward Street, Grantham. She is listed as his sister and under the entry ‘Pension’ is written the word ‘Refusal’
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- British Newspaper Archive.
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- Commonwealth War Graves Commission
- National Archives – Battalion War Diaries
- General Registry Office