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  • Claire Jordan

Arthur



2nd September 1918 (reads the war diary for 16th Battalion, Devonshire Regiment)


5.30am.


Zero Hour.


Attack on village of Moislains.


Strong resistance met with by A & B Companies.


Casualties heavy. Capt Muntz, 2nd Lt Moody, 2nd Lt Jones, 2nd Lt Garcia wounded.


Posts held by A Company in Moislains Trench.


2nd Lt Moriarty gassed.


D Company relieved A & B Companies…


Liaison established on left with London Regiment.


Gas shelling at intervals throughout the day. Heavy shelling during night 2nd/3rd.


C Company in support. Positions rearranged and consolidated.


At dusk, gaps (untenable by day) occupied by C Company - continuous line with 47th Division on left.


Expected counter-attack undelivered.”



Finally, we were getting there.


But no longer looking out at the world from this sweet face by midnight was Arthur Bellamy, the 25 year old son of a Devonshire farmer from the pretty village of Peter Tavy, on the edge of Dartmoor, not far from Tavistock, where Arthur had joined the Territorials before the War.


Like all Territorials, he had been mobilised on outbreak of War and when asked, he signed the Imperial Service Order, waiving his right to serve only in England.


He had been out in the Middle Eastern theatre of War since the last day of 1915 with his old Territorial unit, the Royal 1st Devon Yeomanry.


They’d been sent out to Gallipoli in the last months of 1915, evacuating to Alexandria at the end of December to defend Egypt, and this is where Arthur joined them as a reinforcement.


They would guard the Suez Canal defences and form part of the Western Frontier Force.


Eventually the new 16th Battalion of the Devonshires was made up out of dismounted Yeomanry units, including Arthur’s, in Egypt at the start of 1917.


Arthur and his Battalion took part in the invasion of Palestine and fought the Second and Third Battles of Gaza.


He was there at the capture of Beersheba and then at the decisive victory at the Battle of Jerusalem towards the end of 1917. He was there at the Battle of Tell ‘Asur in March 1918, a gallant attack along the whole front line from the Mediterranean coast to the edge of the Jordan Valley, made and won alongside our doughty Digger allies, the Australians.


Having been through so much, it’s hard not to wonder how Arthur and his mates felt on being warned in April that they were moving now to France.


It was comparatively so close to home; they must surely have felt that they were at least heading in the right direction, that maybe the end was in sight.


Now, though, they were to face the Germans on the Western Front as we pushed them slowly but inexorably back, over the last Hundred Days of the War.


When Arthur was killed in action on 2nd September 1918, he was initially buried close to where he fell, but after the War, many small cemeteries and burial sites were brought in to Peronne from the surrounded areas, Moislains included. He is buried now in the beautifully dignified Peronne Communal Cemetery Extension.


But he was not forgotten back home at Peter Tavy; he is on the village war memorial and also listed on a beautiful plaque in the church there, along with five of his brothers-in-arms from the local area.


Arthur’s headstone at Peronne bears no epitaph. But that chosen by the people of Peter Tavy for the church plaque for their lost boys is a splendid one and will serve Arthur well, today and every day to come:


“Bright Is Their Glory Now.”

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