Item preview not available, to access the full image and more information about the item go to Europeana 1914-1918


Arthur Alec Proctor

Recruited twice


    • No. 2528. Joined the Territorial Force 5th. Battalion The Queens Regiment for 4 years on 31st. August 1914 at Reigate. Discharged on 11th. September 1914 being medically unfit for further military service probably due to his height. His age was 17 and his height 5ft. 2in. Arthur A Proctor apparently volunteered for military service on the 31st. August 1914 at the age of 17 years. He was initially accepted as a recruit, No 2528 in the 5th (Territorial) Bn. of The Queen`s (Royal West Surrey) Regiment, which had been mobilized at Guildford on the 4th August 1914, as part of the Surrey Brigade, Home Counties Division. The Battalion moved to Maidstone during that month, and it was during rationalisation processes of recruits, in the light of the vast numbers that had come forward, that those who did not meet the stricter regulations relating to physical attributes subsequently introduced, that a substantial percentage were then rejected and returned to civilian life. Arthur Proctor, being under the new age requirement, and failing to meet the minimum height of 5`3", was released from service on the 11th. September 1914. He returned to civil employment as an Art Leather Worker. However, the army carefully retained the personal details of those it had previously discharged as unfit, and following the rapid fall-off in the numbers of men volunteering for service, and the introduction of conscription in 1916, Arthur would have been ultimately summoned back into service. His second spell in uniform commenced on the 1st. January 1917, when he was called to the colours of the 2/4th Battalion, The Queen`s Regiment, through the recruiting office at Redhill, Surrey, where new enlistment papers were prepared for him. He was then shown as 18 years and 7 months of age, which, if correct, would indicate that he had been only 16 years old when he first volunteered. He was allocated the Army Number 23439. He was still only 5’ 2½” tall, but by that time height restrictions were less strict. His weight was not shown, but he had a chest measurement of 34". His physical description was "good". He was still shown as an Art Leather Worker and his next of kin given as "mother": Sarah Jane Proctor, of 78 Lesbourne Road, Reigate. At no point during his military service was any mention made of his father (his Father died in 1904). Arthur had completed scarcely two months of basic training when he was compulsorily transferred on the 6th March 1917 (Part II Orders dated 13/3/1917) to the Machine Gun Corps. He was given the new Army number 87617. His transfer is somewhat surprising for several reasons. No soldier was recruited directly into the newly formed Corps. Personnel were selected on the grounds of suitability. The duties of the Corps were viewed as so arduous that recruits were preferred to be of mature age, good physical development, and possibly with some mechanical or weaponry skills, or experience with animal or mechanical transport. At a glance, Arthur would appear to have fulfilled none of these requirements, but the growth of the Corps, and its attrition rates were such that by early 1917, any new recruit would be welcome. Arthur would have been sent to the MGC Training Centre at Belton Park, Grantham. Here he would have been swiftly trained to become one of a team of six men who operated each of the heavy Vickers machine guns. This took about six weeks, after which he would have been granted a short leave, followed by embarkation at Folkestone on the 6th May 1917, for France. He landed at Boulogne the same day and went to Camiers (SW of Boulogne, and close to Etaples) which was the Headquarters and Base Depot of the MGC in France. At Camiers, he would have received more training - this time in trench warfare, and would have been kitted-out for life in the front line. After two weeks he was deemed ready to enter the war zone and was allocated to a Brigade MG Company. On the 25th May 1917, he joined the 150th Company in the line in the Arras sector of France. Arthur survived for only six weeks in the trenches near Arras. An entry in his statement of services merely records that he was "killed in action" on the 29th June 1917. From records held by the MGC Old Comrades Association, we know that 150 Company was actively engaged in the front line during the month of June. It had been part of the on-going "Battle of Arras" since the beginning of April - particularly at the Scarpe, and had taken substantial casualties. On the day that Arthur died, one other casualty was sustained - 67367 Private William Moore, aged 30, of Nelson, Lancs and it is significant that they lie side-by-side in St Martin Cemetery, south-east of Arras. Shellfire would seem to be the most likely cause. A statement of Arthur’s entire kinship with other members of his family was made by his mother, showing that he had five brothers and two sisters. In 1922, his mother received the British War and Victory Medal earned by Arthur for his services. She would also have received a large bronze memorial plaque bearing his full name, and also a parchment Memorial Scroll, with his number rank and name. ---- Reigate Man Killed: With great regret we announce the death of Pte Arthur Alec Proctor at the early age of 20 years, who was killed in action June 29th. He belonged to the Machine Gun Corps and was the 5th. son of Mrs. R J Proctor of Lesbourne Road, Reigate. Since leaving school he has been learning art leather work with Mr. Boorer of Warren Road. He was a member of the Priory Band and Church Lads Brigade. He joined the West Surreys in August 1914 and being rejected as not up to height. Was awarded the Sheriffs Medal. On January 1st. this year, he joined the East Surreys from which he was transferred to the Machine Gun Corps and was drafted to France on May 5th. He was a great favourite with officers and men of his section and most highly respected by all who knew him. His four elder brothers have been serving in France since August 1914. ----




  • Date:

    • 1917-06-29
    • 1914-08-31
  • Temporal:

    • 2012-11-09 09:57:31 UTC


References and relations

  • Subjects, resource types, genres and forms (Concepts)