Pte ARTHUR HILL NORMAN
Killed in Action 4 October 1916
Arthur Hill Norman was born in 1890 in Chiswick. At the 1891 Census, he is found at his home at 24 Dale Street, Chiswick with his parents, the 25 year-old Arthur Norman, a Carman born in Halstead, Essex, and his wife Sarah, who was 5 years his senior, born in Swinbrook in Oxfordshire. It appears that his mother died 2 years later, probably in about July 1893. By 1901, at age 10, the boy had moved with his family to the parish of St Alban the Martyr at Acton Green. His father, now a carman for a greengrocery business, had re-married at St Albans Church on Christmas Day 1894 with Amy Colbran Reader, born 1873 in Acton. Arthur had a brother, Henry Charles, born 1892, and three step-sisters, Amy Dorothy (4), Emily (3) and Louisa Martha (1). Lodging with them at 6 Priory Road was Samuel Lamb Drayton, a 22 year-old greengrocer.
In 1911, the family was at 2 Evelyn Road. Amy and Arthur (Sr) had a further son, William David, born 1902. The father was now a Coal and Coke dealer. Arthur (Jr.) was employed as a railway porter – the sisters were still at school. Henry Charles, Arthur’s younger full brother had by then left home. He had joined the Royal Navy and was in 1911 an Ordinary Seaman aboard HMS “Irresistible”.
It has not proved possible to determine when Arthur enlisted. We know he joined 1/22 Battalion, London (The Queen’s Royal West Surrey) Regiment as Private No.7595. His medal card contains no details of when he first went on active service overseas. It seems he may have originally been allocated to 12th Battalion, London Regiment as Pte. No. 5195 but transferred early on. He did not qualify for a 1915 Star, so could not have seen active service until 1916. The “Queen’s”, part of 142 Brigade, 47th Division, was not in the Somme theatre at the outset of that campaign, but arrived there in early August 1916, undertaking training in rear areas for the rest of the month. It moved nearer to the front line near Albert by 11 September, being a support battalion to 24/London which was in the front line at High Wood. Its first experience of front line Somme engagement was around Bazentin in the 4th Army attack on the line between Combles and Martinpuich on 15 until 19 September.
The battalion was rested in Mametz Wood until 1 October, when it was brought forward again in support of a Divisional attack on Eaucourt L’Abbaye. It was engaged in providing carrying parties supplying ordnance and materials from High Wood through the support and communicating trench systems. In the process, the men of the battalion came under under shell fire and Arthur Norman will have been one of the Killed Other Ranks recorded in the War Diary for the days of the successful attack.
Arthur Norman’s body was never recovered. He is commemorated at the great Thiepval Memorial. His back pay and War Gratuity, amounting to £7 1s. 11d was sent to his sole legatee, his step-mother Amy Norman. His brother Henry Charles appears to have survived the war.