Countdown to armistice (8) - Private Arthur Street

Arthur was a native of Burton on Trent and enlisted in the Army at Warwick. He then became a constable in the Wolverhampton Borough Police. He was recalled to the Army at the outbreak of war.

On Wednesday 12th August 1914 his battalion was moved to Southampton where they were embarked on the S.S. ‘Cawdor Castle’, arriving at Le Havre the following day. The battalion then moved by various stages to Landrecies. On Tuesday 25th August 1914 the battalion entered the war when No. 2 Company, on the Le Quesnoy road, opened fire on advancing enemy patrols and drove them off. Later in the day a column of soldiers approached the battalion, wearing French and Belgium uniforms. It was noticed, however, that those at the back of the column were wearing German uniforms and the battalion opened fire. The Germans rushed the battalion’s positions and killed one man before being driven off. By the end of the month the battalion had suffered 12 men killed, 108 wounded and 7 missing.

Tuesday 1st September 1914 saw the battalion in action in the Villers Cotterêts Forest resulting in nine men killed, 29 wounded and eight missing. The following day the battalion moved to Esbly and thence across the Marne at Meaux. On Friday 4th September 1914 the battalion dug in at La Grande Loge Farm.

Their next major engagement was on Tuesday 8th September 1914 at Petit Villiers when the Germans were engaged for a loss of eight killed, 45 wounded and six men missing. Wounding his hand on shrapnel during the aforementioned battle, Arthur was returned home and developed tetanus, succumbing to his wounds at Portsmouth. He is buried in Portsmouth (Eastney or Highland Road) Cemetery in Grave K.9.4

It is believed that Arthur was the first British policeman to die overseas during WWI and his funeral in Portsmouth was reportedly very grand. Tragically the Wolverhampton Police had lost so many men to the Forces that they did not feel able to send any men to attend the funeral.

With thanks to Graeme Clarke for historic research and DS Andy Padmore of the Wolverhampton Police Military History Society

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