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In Memory of

Private Arthur Caunce

16378
2nd Bn., South Lancashire Regiment (Prince of Wales's Volunteers)
Killed in Action 25th September 1915 Age 32

Private Arthur Caunce was the son of Aaron and Elizabeth whose address is given by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission as 259, Crow Lane West, Earlestown. When he enlisted, Arthur lived with his wife Mary Ann and their four young children at 246, Crow Lane West, although his wife's address is given by CWGC, who made their register after the war, as 12, Fern Avenue, Park Road, Earlestown.

Arthur worked as a machinist at the Viaduct Works before joining the colours on January 11th 1915. His "burnt records" at the Public Record Office state he was five feet four inches tall with a thirty six and a half inch chest and weighed 114 pounds. He married Mary Ann Losh on 6th June 1908 and their children were Lilian May (born 6/6/1905), Arthur (15/5/1909), Lewis (20/4/1911) and Minnie (13/5/1913).

Although only a short time in the army, he does not appear to have been a model soldier. He was admonished and lost a day's pay on 23rd February 1915 for overstaying his pass on the previous day. On 16th March he lost two day's pay and was confined to barracks for four days for the same offence and was then confined to barracks for a further four days for being "drunk in town about 10.30 p.m." on 25th March. Even when he embarked at the beginning of May 1915 at Southampton on his way to the front he was fined two days pay and was ordered to pay for deficiencies of kit value five shillings and a halfpenny.

The Newton and Earlestown Guardian of 8th October 1915 printed this letter which informed Mrs Caunce of the death of her husband:

"Dear Mrs. Caunce, I am an unknown friend of your yours, but I am sorry to inform you that your husband has been killed. He was next to me when he was done, and I found this photo (a photo of a member of his family) in his pay book, and I thought I would send it on to you. I know you will be much upset when you receive this letter, and I can assure you I am very sorry for what has happened -Your friend, George Hartless, No. 1366, 2od. South Lancashire Regiment."

George Hartless also sent home personal items belonging to Private Atkinson. Arthur's name is on the Menin Gate at Ieper, the memorial to over 54,000 officers and men who died in the Ypres Salient before 16th August 1917 and who have no known grave.

The death of Private Caunce is mentioned in a 'sensational' letter sent from the front by Private J. E. Garvey and published in the Guardian of 1st October 1915. It is clear therefore that he was killed during the Second Attack on Bellewaarde, part of the Battle of Loos. Captain Whalley-Kelly gives an account of this attack, basing it on the regimental diary.