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Arras Memorial, France Arras Memorial, France
First Name: Arthur Albert Last Name: VICKERS
Date of Death: 09/10/1916 Lived/Born In: Custom House
Rank: Rifleman Unit: London2/18
Memorial Site: Arras Memorial, France

Current Information:

Age-22

5, Coolfin Road, Custom House

 

60th Division, made up entirely of 2nd line territorial battalions from London, went to France in June, 1916 where they remained until they were sent to Salonika at the end of the year. During the six months spent on the Western Front they were employed in holding the front line around Arras and were one of the few divisions in France to avoid the Battle of the Somme.

In July, 1916,  while the Battle of the Somme was raging a few miles to their south,  60th Division moved into a sector of the front line near Arras which ran that from Roclincourt on the right to beyond Neuville St. Vaast on the left and was overlooked practically from end to end by the Vimy Ridge. There were four British lines, the forward one termed the Observation line and consisting of strongly fortified individual posts. Communication trenches ran from Anzin, Maroeuil and St Eloi for over two miles and followed a tiresome winding route.

On 5th October, 1916 the 2/18th London battalion of 180 Brigade moved into the front line at St Eloi where they remained until relieved on 11th October. On the morning of 9th October, a large German trench mortar, a minenwerfer or ‘minnie’, landed on the battalion’s line and buried a man. Four men tried to dig him out but were all killed by a further shell. That evening at 8pm, 2/18th London carried out a large raid by over 100 officers and men on 100 yards of the enemy front line. The wire was cut by two trench mortar while the artillery opened up a rectangular barrage on the enemy support line. The raiders were divided into three parties and were straight away met by fierce machine-gun and rifle fire, and suffered many casualties before they reached the wire. The Germans were well prepared and their front line was thickly manned. Bright moonlight did not help and the raiding party were recalled at 8.15pm, having sustained nearly fifty casualties. Arthur Vickers was one of those who lost his life on this day.

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