Arthur was born in April 1893 at the family home in Belsize Park Gardens –
At Downside Arthur was a keen member of the school Cadet Force. Almost immediately on leaving school he followed his older brother Alfred into the London Regiment. In April 1911 he was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the 3rd (City of London) Battalion, the London Regiment (Royal Fusiliers) –
At the start of August 1914 Arthur and his fellow Territorials were busy preparing for their annual summer training camp. Overnight they were mobilised, and by 3rd August found themselves, with the 1/3rd Battalion, guarding a section of the Basingstoke to Eastleigh railway line. The Ladies first class cloakroom on the main Winchester Station platform became Arthur’s HQ, and the senior Officers messed in the nearby Eagle Hotel – a dreadful place according to Arthur!
At the end of August, whilst still stationed at Winchester, Arthur and his devoted sweetheart Dollie Noel were engaged to be married –
In September the Battalion sailed from Southampton, bound for Malta. They were based in and around Imtarfa Barracks until the beginning of January 1915. This was their first overseas posting – the Territorials were to relieve the regular British Army troops (for active service elsewhere) and continue with basic training.
By 1914 a number of Arthur’s older sisters had married Maltese gentlemen and were well and truly settled on the island: brothers-
But in early November, the newly engaged Dollie – with her mother as chaperone –
Arrival on the Western Front
The 1/3rd Battalion sailed from Malta on 2nd January 1915 in the RMSP “Avon”. They arrived safely at Marseilles on 5th and finally reached Etaples Camp in the north of France around the 9th –
It is interesting to note that at this stage of the war it was entirely possible for Dollie and her mother, along with other service wives and family, to travel home to England in relative safety. They left Malta very soon after the battalion, following in their path, travelling first by boat to Marseilles, and then by train across France to the channel port.
As Arthur and Alfred said their reluctant farewells to family and friends in Malta, the youngest brother Richard sailed into Valletta harbour with the 2/3rd Londons. He had recently obtained his army commission, having left Downside School in the summer of 1914. At just 18, Richard’s war initially took him in a completely different direction to his four elder brothers –
Arthur’s Battles: 1915-
Neuve Chapelle: 10th –
Aubers Ridge: 9th May 1915
Festubert: 15th –
Loos (Pietre): 25th September 1915
Gommecourt: 1st July 1916
Guillemont: 3rd–6th September 1916
Ginchy: 9th September 1916
Fleurs Courcelette: 15th – 22nd September 1916
Morval Transloy Ridge: 1st – 18th October 1916
From May –
“Yours for Ever”
At the end of October 1916 a battle-
Brothers Edgar and Richard were also granted leave to attend; only one brother was missing from the family wedding photograph –
After a brief honeymoon in England, Arthur returned to his Company in France with a very heavy heart.
The Military Cross
AGIUS, LIEUT. (Temp. CAPT.) A.J. 1 / 3rd Batt, London Regiment. “Has always shown great energy and commanded the Battalion in action for three weeks. Has been previously recommended for good work.”
Arthur was awarded the Military Cross in January 1917, returned to England sick, and served as Garrison adjutant No2 District Aldershot Command from May 1917 until the end of the war. After the Armistice he was placed on the Territorial Force Reserve.
Throughout his life Arthur was a meticulous note taker and a talented mapmaker. Extracts from his writings have been quoted in author Lyn MacDonald’s books “Somme” (first published 1983) and also “1915: The Death of Innocence” (1993). The Imperial War Museum in London currently holds a collection of Arthur’s wartime papers: reference –
The Arthur to Dollie Letters
Whilst on active service, Arthur and Dollie wrote to each other almost daily – and Arthur’s letters have survived the decades. The “Arthur to Dollie Letters” collection, covering the period 1914-