Private Arthur STALEY

West Yorkshire Regiment
(Prince of Wales's Own)
[Formerly: York and Lancs Regiment]
15th/17th Battalion.
Service Number:
[Formerly: 21794, York and Lancs Regiment]
Date of Death:
20 July 1918 - Died [Prisoner of War]
Cemetery / Memorial:
Grave Number:
XV. A. 11.

Personal History:

Arthur was born in Ringinglow, Sheffield, on the 23rd April 1894, the son of William (Stone Quarryman) and Sarah Ann (née Fox) Staley. He had three older brothers, Ben William, Leonard and George Edward, four older sisters, Mary, Annie, Laura and Edith, and a younger sister, Bertha.
In 1901 (Census RG 13/4245) they were living at 8 Ringinglow, Fulwood, Sheffield. Ten years later (1911 Census RG 14/27759) Arthur was living at the same address and working as a "Stone Carter".

There is no obvious link between Arthur and Buxton, although possibly his employment in the quarrying industry might have brought him to the town in his working life. However, if this was the case it is likely his name would have been included on one of the Quarry or village memorials.

Military History:
Arthur enlisted in the York and Lancs Regiment at Sheffield before transferring to the 15th/17th Battalion, West Yorkshire (Prince of Wales's Own) Regiment. His Service Records have not survived, but his Medal Index Card indicates that he did not qualify for the 1914-15 Star Medal, so did not serve abroad until 1916 at the earliest.

His York and Lancs Service Number suggests an enlistment into a Reserve Battalion around the middle of 1916, with a mobilisation date of (approximately) February 1916. This could have been the time he was posted to the West Yorkshire Regiment. The 15th (Service) Battalion (1st Leeds) was formed in September 1914 by the Lord Mayor and City of Leeds and in June 1915 came under orders of the 93rd Brigade, 31st Division. In December 1915 it moved to Egypt, but returned to France in March 1916.

The 17th (Service) Battalion (2nd Leeds) was also formed in Leeds in December 1914 by the Lord Mayor and City as a bantam Battalion. In June 1915 it came under orders of the 106th Brigade, 35th Division. It landed at Le Havre on the 1st February 1916. On the 16th November 1917 the Battalion left the Division for XIX Corps on railway work. On the 7th December 1917 the 15th and 17th Battalions were amalgamated to form the 15th/17th Battalion.

XIX Corps (under General H. E. Watts) was in action during the Battle of Rosières, 26th - 27th March 1918, (a phase in The First Battles of the Somme 1918). ICRC (International Committee of the Red Cross) Records show that Arthur was captured at Ervilliers on the 27th and imprisoned at Denain. Denain is near Valenciennes, a little North of Cambrai and at that time served as a PoW Hospital.

Other ICRC Records Arthur was moved from Denain, but subsequently died at the "Abteilung Evangelisches Krankenhaus" (Department of the Lutheran Hospital) near the PoW camp at Gelsenkirchen, Munster. (There are records of PoWs being forced to do railway work on an 'Arbeitskommando' (work detail). However, the CWGC Records (Grave Registration Documents) state that Arthur ultimately died of "influenza".

More than 1,000 Allied prisoners were buried in Cologne Southern Cemetery during the First World War. In 1922 it was decided that the graves of Commonwealth servicemen who had died all over Germany should be brought together into four permanent cemeteries at Kassel, Berlin, Hamburg and Cologne. Over the course of the following year, graves were transferred to Cologne Southern Cemetery from over 180 different burial grounds in Hanover, Hessen, the Rhine and Westphalia - including Gelsenkirchen West Cemetery, which had 21 burials in 1917-1918.

· I am grateful to 'The War Graves Photographic Project' for the photo of Arthur's grave.
· Prisoners of the First World War -  ICRC historical archives
· "Memoirs & Diaries - Captivity in the Ardennes" - an account from one man captured the day after Arthur

Commemorated on:
Arthur's name does not appear on The Slopes Memorial, or any other Buxton Memorial.

Link to CWGC Record
Capt Duncan Smith's grave