|Arthur (sitting) and his elder brother|
|Arthur Wedgwood - Private 15894|
1st Battalion Royal Scots Fusiliers
Arthur wrote to his cousin Irene from the training camp and the letters still exist. He told of the time a Corporal from his Battalion fell from a train and died, Arthur and five other men transported the Corporal back home to Edinburgh. He described how the mother “nearly went mad” on seeing her dead son, this must have struck a cord with Arthur and how his own mother Emma would react if the same happened to him. There is also mention of a sweetheart of Arthur’s; he sends the message “just remember me to the Misses Johnson's next time you see them and tell Edie it’s a long time since I kissed her, but I hope it won’t be the last”. In January 1915 he tells Irene that it is said that they will be going to France on 24th February, but not to tell his parents or they will only bother about him. By now he must be getting some idea of the horrors that he is about to face as he mentions other men; a “chap named Shully, that listed with me is killed” and writes how “it’s a bad job for Cecil Wilson, I feel sorry for his parents”. The statement which is most telling is “the English have been ordered to kill the Germans and take no prisoners, because they have been killing wounded men”. This prospect must have surely scared a young lad half to death no matter how grown up he pretends to be. A stark contrast to the local newspaper's article’s reporting positive accounts of the war.
|Arthur's Rosary Beads|
For the 1st Battalion Royal Scots Fusiliers the 2nd Battle of Bellewaarde was in fact another mass slaughter of its selfless, brave soldiers – 3 officers were killed, 1 was missing, and 6 were wounded. Of the other ranks – 30 men were killed, 161 were missing and 120 were wounded.
The death must have affected the family very badly, Emma is said to have been mortified and never really recovered from the shock. She died on 24th June 1922 of liver cancer. William remarried shortly after in 1923. Arthur’s elder brother Ernest joined the Sherwood Foresters Regiment to seek revenge on the Germans that took his young brothers life so tragically. His sister Maud was married and had three young sons by now, her fourth son who was born on 17th July 1916 was named after his heroic Uncle Arthur. Maud kept photos of her beloved brother and even has a post card of the memorial in the Church at New Whittington, a testament I believe to the love and sadness the family held for their beloved “boy soldier” young Arthur Wedgwood.
|The Royal Scots Fusiliers named on the Menin|
Gate memorial -
Arthur is on the right hand side
Further reading -