Private Arthur Boobier – Died of Wounds 15th August 1916

Arthur was born in Poplar, London, on 30th March 1891, the second of five children born to William and Annie Boobier.

William was a constable in the Metropolitan Police and the family had only recently arrived from Chard, Somerset. They lived in Poplar and Bow until Arthur was 11, Arthur attending the Atley Road school, then moved to Putney (briefly) and to Wimbledon, where Arthur joined the Haydon’s Road Church of England school.

Arthur became a printer when he left school but soon joined the East Surrey Regiment, signing up for 12 years’ service in December 1908. He was only 17 at the time but added a few months to his age so that he was old enough to enlist.

After two years in Plymouth and Ireland with the 1st Battalion, he was transferred to the 2nd Battalion and served in Burma and India, where he was still stationed when war broke out. He had a chequered disciplinary record during the pre-war years but was described as “honest, sober, industrious and clean” in 1914. While Arthur was away, the family moved to Hillview (now number 40), Ferndale Road, Banstead.

Arthur went to France with the 2nd Battalion in January 1915 and they were soon in trenches at Ypres, Belgium. Arthur was made acting lance corporal but developed a skin condition a few days later that required him to return home to England to be treated. After recovering, he was posted to the 1st Battalion, who were in need of reinforcements after fighting at Hill 60, and sent back to Belgium on 27th April.

The 1st Battalion spent two-and-a-half straight months in the trenches at Ypres, with no relief and only crude cloth pads soaked in chemicals to use as protection against gas attacks. They moved south to the quiet chalk downland of Picardy in late July and eight uneventful months were then spent between the River Somme and Arras.

They missed the early days of the Battle of the Somme and went into trenches near recently-captured Longueval on 18th July 1916 and took part in an attack on Delville Wood on 23rd July. They moved into the northwest corner of Delville Wood on 28th July, to relieve exhausted troops, and suffered 70 casualties in the process. At 3:30pm on 29th July they attacked two machine-gun posts northwest of Longueval. The machine-guns had not been knocked out by the preceding artillery barrage and, as the men left their trenches, the guns opened fire. The 1st East Surreys lost 320 men. The survivors took cover in shell holes and waited for night to fall.

Arthur was shot in the left arm and chest. He was evacuated to hospital but died at 7:30pm on 15th August. He was 25 years old.

Arthur is buried in St Sever Cemetery, Rouen, and commemorated on the Banstead War Memorial and the Garton Memorial in All Saints’ churchyard.

Arthur was commemorated at All Saints’, Banstead, on 15th August 2016, the 100th anniversary of his death. A service of remembrance was held and a bell tolled 100 times in his honour.

Share This:

Leave a Comment