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.
Driver J. Starkie
T/16298 292 Company
Army Service Corps.
J. Starkie was 34 years old and died on the 8th August 1915. He was the son of Samuel and Mary Starkie of Blackburn, Lancashire and the husband of Sophia Starkie, of 40, Sunny Bank, Mytholmroyd, Yorkshire.
Starkie died in a tragic boating accident whilst based near Reading. He and Private J. J. McKeever, an Irish man born at Waterside, were in a Canadian canoe on the Thames at Tilehurst when the canoe capsized and both soldiers were drowned. Neither man could swim. The Coroners verdict was that of “Accidental Drowning”.
During the war years there were many such accidents on the Thames, sometimes of army personelle and sometimes civilians and children. Many drownings were accidental, some were acts of suicide.
Mrs Starkie attended the funeral and also Thomas Logue, the brother in law of McKeeveer. A volley was fired and the “Last Post played”. The grave of Driver Starkie is marked by a CWGC war pattern headstone. Private McKeever is also buried in the cemetery in Division 14
Agnes Maude Russell
Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service
Military honours were accorded at the funeral of Sister Agnes Maude Russell, who died 4th October 1916, at Queen Alexandra’s Hospital for Sick Sisters. Sister Russell, aged 42, was nursing soldiers in Malta when she was invalided home on the 27th September. The soldiers would probably have been those requiring treatment as a result of action in the Dardanelles.
Formerly she had been a school nurse employed by the London Education Committee. She was also a Sunday School teacher at Westminster Chapel, where the first part of the funeral service was conducted.
Before the interment a service was held at Kings Rd. Baptist Church, the Rev. R. G. Fairbairn officiating. The hymn “For all the saints”, was sung. The mourners were Mr. Augustine Russell (father), Mr. E.A. Russell (brother), her sister, brother and sister in law and cousin. The congregation included members of Westminster Chapel, Matron Q.A. Hospital, members of staff London Education Committee, Matron of No. 1 War Hospital, Numerous floral tributes including from her father, the Girl Guides of Westminster chapel, members of staff London Education Committee, Nurses and staff No. 1 War hospital, the School Nurses League.
Her grave has a CWGC headstone.