ARTHUR SINGLETON 

Rank: Private
Service Number: 919.
Regiment: 1st Bn. Seaforth Highlanders Killed In Action Sunday 20th December 1914 Age 20County Memorial Poynton
Commemorated\Buried GUARDS CEMETERY, WINDY CORNER, CUINCHY
Grave\Panel Ref: V.C.2O
France
 
Private Arthur Singleton
 
Indian Expeditionary Force
 
Arthur is buried in Guards Cemetery, Windy Corner Cuinchy, Pas de Calais France.
 
The cemetery grew up a little west of Windy Corner next to a house used as the Battalion Headquarters and dressing station. The road it stands by was known as Westminster Bridge Road.
Windy Corner was a 'choke point' so if you wanted to bring anything forwards or backwards to the trenches in front of Givenchy it was likely to go through Windy Corner.
 
Arthur was the son of John, and Ann Singleton. He worked as a Taker off Underground.  This is an underground worker who unhooks wagons at self-acting inclines.
Arthur was born in Poynton. The 1901 census has him living at 76 Dalehouse Fold, with his mother and father and 5 sisters, Annie,Elsie, Ethel, Georgina, and Selina. By 1911 they were living at Bramwell, Street Stockport where they had 4 more children Gladys, James, Clara, and John. Ann looked after the family whilst John worked at Poynton collieries as a coal hewer.

Arthur enlisted in Stockport in 1911, joining the Seaforth Highlanders. For 2 years prior to the war he was based in Agra, India. (The Seaforths were part of the Dehra Dun Brigade, 7th Meerut Division). Soon after the outbreak of war the Battalion was ordered to France. Their departure had been delayed due to the presence of the German light cruiser Emden, which had been sighted of the west coast of India. Emden sank 21 Allied merchant ships before she was eventually sunk off the Cocos Islands on the 9th of November 1914, by the Australian cruiser Sydney, with the loss of 131 men.
The Division embarked on to the HMT Devanha and sailed from Alexandra docks in Bombay on the 21st of September escorted by HMS Dartmouth, HMS Swiftsure, and HMS Fox in a convoy of 42 ships. They reached the Suez on the 2nd of October, Port Said, and Alexandria on the 3rd, sailing again for Marseilles on the 6th landing on the 12th  October 1914. Battalion strength was 24 Officers, 885 other ranks.
The Highlanders would be in the front-line trenches outside Neuve Chapelle by the 29th . After 2 weeks fighting in Flanders the Seaforths had lost 45 killed and 191 wounded.
The winter of 1914 was terrible and must have been extremely uncomfortable for troops used to the Indian climate. For the next couple of months, the Highlanders would see some very heavy fighting alternating between tours of duty in the front line and periods in reserve For most of the time in the front line they were under regular shellfire and with the constant threat from enemy snipers. 


BATTLE OF GIVENCY

 In the early dawn of December the 20th in torrential rain and cold, the Germans began a heavy bombardment of the Indian trenches, followed by an infantry attack extending over a line of six miles from the south of Bethune Canal to Festubert in the north. The attack began by the firing of 3 flares from the German lines; moments later a loud rumbling crash sped along 1000 yards of front line trenches, and the ground beneath opened up spewing earth and men high into the air. 10 mines driven under the British positions from saps in the German front-line system had been fired.  (This was the first underground attack of the war) The Germans raced over no-man’s land and occupied what was left of the Indian front-line position.
The sheer weight of the attack fell upon the Sirhind Brigade who were driven back,the greater part of Givenchy was occupied by the enemy. Over 800 men of the Indian Corps were lost.By about 10.00 am the German attack came up against the Dehra-Dun Brigade, which had the 1st Seaforths upon its flank with the 2nd Gurkhas on its left. The Gurkhas had part of their firing line blown up by one of the German mines with heavy casualties. Despite stout resistance and local counter-attacks the Gurkhas were forced to retire. This left the Highlanders in a desperate position with both flanks exposed. Heavy fighting ensued, and losses were substantial. Arthur was killed whilst going in to the front line near Festubert. Poynton had lost its first soldier.
There were 175 casualties on this day. Out of the 700 who took part 31 OR s and NCOs were killed.
The chaplain Church of Scotland 1st Battalion Seaforth Highlanders Indian. Expeditionary Force France, wrote on the 3rd  January to Arthur’s parents.I am sorry to write to you about the loss of your son Private Singleton no 919 Seaforth Highlanders. The Seaforths have had some very heavy fighting in the trenches during the last month. I regret to say that among those who have fallen was your son who was killed on the way approaching the trenches on the 20th of December. It has been so difficult to get details and addresses during a time of action and of movement, that there has been a long delay in sending you this word. But it is one of the sorrows of this great war. It will be of some comfort to you to know that your son’s body was recovered and has been buried with other Seaforths near the Regimental dressing post, where the wounded were gathered from the trenches. There they lie- those lads who have fought so well and who have died for their country. I know you will mourn for him as a son who has been taken away, but you will also be proud of him as a soldier, who did his duty and died doing so. We will pray that the sacrifice of these fine lads may not be thrown away, and our deepest sympathy goes out to those who mourn for them, who have had a very real part in this sacrifice. With deepest sympathy for you in this loss. yours sincerely W McNeill.
Arthur‘s body was exhumed from the battlefield in October 1919 and reburied in the Guards Cemetery.
Arthur s name is commemorated on the Stockport war memorial as well as the Poynton village memorial. The inscription on Arthur’s headstone states.              
                            
THY WILL BE DONE
 
 
Cheshire County Memorial Project would like to thank Phil Underwood for compiling this page on Arthur