Arthur Penton Strong
Lieutenant 7th Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers
Arthur Penton Strong was the son of Arthur and Kate Strong, of Reading. He is commemorated on the footstone of the family grave. The 1891 census indicates that Arthur had three younger brothers and an older sister his father was a builder and contractor. Kate’s brother also lived with the family. They lived at 5. Zinzan Street, Reading. By 1901 Arthur’s father had died and the family were living at 215, King’s Road, Reading. Arthur was now aged 17 and employed as a factory clerk. In 1911 Kate was living at 30. Telford Avenue with her younger sons. It has not been possible to trace Arthur through the 1911 census.
Arthur was killed in action on 26th October 1917, Aged 34. This was the first day of what came to be known as the Second Battle of Passchendaele. On this day the British and their allies improved their positions from Passchendaele to Poelcapelle. Matrix tells us that the attack began at 5.40am. On either side of the Menin road the British 7th and 5th Divisions were frustrated by marshes. The Australians and Canadians took their objectives moving off in a mist that became a heavy rain as the day progressed. The Canadians had 70% casualties. Poelcapelle means church in the bog and it was in a bog that the British fought. Several days later New Zealand troops came upon the remains of the Northumberland Fusiliers and Durham Light infantry lying in rows where they had been mown down by German machine guns as they had made their advance on the first day of the battle.
Arthur Penton Strong is buried in Poelcapelle British Cemetery. Location XXXVII. F. 19
This cemetery was made after the Armistice by the concentration of graves from other cemeteries and from the battle fields. The great majority of the dead fell in the last five months of 1917, particularly the month of October.
Charles Edwin Moores Weller
46th Battalion Canadian Infantry (Saskatchewan)
Charles Edwin Moores Weller was the son of Charles Weller, of 127, Queens Road, Reading. He is commemorated on the headstone of the grave of Fanny Briden and Charles Weller. Grave number 8711. Charles was the eldest son of this marriage. The inscription, which is now very feint, states that he was killed in action at Passchendaele on 26th October 1917, aged 37.
The 26th October marked what was officially designated the 2nd Battle of Passchendaele. The action began at 5.40 in the morning. British divisions were either side of the Menin Road. Along the Passchendaele ridge and the Passchendaele to Broodseinde road were the 46th Canadians and the 18th Australian Battalions. They moved forward in the early mist and later steady rain. The Canadians and Australians took there objectives. However, the Canadians paid heavily with 70% casualties and because two different units had been used in the capture of Decline Copse, and each left it to the other unit to consolidate, the Germans were able to mount a successful counter attack and they were not ejected for a further 24 hours.
Charles Weller was first reported missing and his father had many appeals for information published in local papers, it was not until March 1918 that he was confirmed as killed.
Charles Weller’s body was lost and therefore his name was commemorated on the Menin Gate Memorial to the Missing, Panels 18-26-28. His name is listed in the Canadian Book of Remembrance.
Edwin James Prior
9th Battalion Norfolk Regiment
Edwin James Prior died 15th April 1918 aged 19 years. He has no known grave and his name is commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial to the Missing panels 34 to 35 and 162A.
Edwin Prior was the brother of Arthur James Prior of 65, Foxhill Road, Reading. Information on the caption of a photograph printed in Berkshire and the War, gives details of him belonging to the South Staffordshire Regiment and attached to the Lincoln Regiment. An address of 10, High Street, Belston, Staffordshire is given. The caption goes on to state that he was twice wounded and was late of Caversham.
More details about the German Spring Offensive around Ypres have been given in the biography of Reginald Newport. Edwin Prior, although in a different regiment would have experienced similar difficulties. By 11th April Armentieres had been evacuated by the British and Haig issued this famous speech to his men “…..Every position must be held to the last man: there must be no retirement. With our backs to the wall….each one of us must fight to the end.”
On the 15th April, the day that Edwin Prior died, the bloodily won ridge of Passchendaele was evacuated and the British divisions withdrew to a line around Ypres which approximated to that of 1915. The British were below full complement and the new men, replacing those lost in Third Ypres, were young and incompletely trained, although they fought bravely. (Martin Matrix Evans – Passchendaele) The different details about regimental information for Edwin Prior may be due to the fact that he was taken into different units to make up the numbers at various times.