Arthur Cyril Caudwell

Arthur Cyril Caudwell
Rifleman 6175
1st/16th Bn. London Regt. (Queens Westminster Rifles)

Division 55

Caudwell AC

Arthur C. Caudwell is commemorated on a large family headstone.  It is not clear exactly who his parents were and CWGC information has been difficult to trace. A search for “Caudwell” has consistently drawn a blank but a search for A. C. C. revealed that an Arthur Candwell was killed on 9th October 1916, there are no family details given and the soldier has no known grave and is commemorated on the Thiepval memorial to the Missing Pier and Face 13C. 

HIs military papers are available on Ancestry UK. He attested in November 1915 and was posted to France in April 1916. His brother Thomas, of 35. Bulmershe Road, Reading was given as his next of kin.

 The inscription on the family headstone states:
”Killed by a shell whilst guarding a trench October 10th 1916 Aged 36.
His body was buried by his comrades on the battlefield near Lesboeufs.” 

 At the time of Caudwell’s death the concluding battles of the Somme were taking place and the British lines had moved to a point a little way beyond Lesboeufs by October 10th 1916.  Lesboeufs had been captured on the 25th September by the British.  Earlier action on 15th September 1916 has seen the first tanks in action in the area west of Lesboeufs.  The Somme battle had concluded by 18th November 1916.

Although the body of Arthur Caudwell was buried on the battlefield and the grave was marked the continuous shelling in the period leading up to the end of the battle could have destroyed the grave.  In these circumstances identification after the war would have been impossible.   

More information was obtained from the Standard 28th October 1916 in the detailed “War Casualties” obituary column.  The article gave full details of how he died and confirmed that he was buried on the battlefield, the grave subsequently being lost.


CAUDWELL, Rfn. A.C., Queen’s Westminster Rifles.

“Mr Caudwell, who was an architect with Mr. Willets, builder, London, was an old Collegiate School boy.  His father for many years was with Messrs. Sutton and Sons, and his brother lives at 35, Bulmershe Road, Reading.

The Platoon Officer writes:- He was always bright and cheery, and is deeply missed by all his friends.  I myself, too, greatly regret the loss of such a reliable man.  We were in a trench where the shelling was pretty continuous, and “Caudie” as they all called him was on duty as a sentry in the early morning, while his friend Bunting sat next to him as the next for duty.  A shell burst on the parapet and buried all around with earth.  A piece penetrated his neck, and the force of the explosion knocked him right back into Bunting’s arms, leaving him unconscious.  Death was practically painless, as he never recovered consciousness.  Since he had to die I think he had all a man could desire; he fell at his post doing his duty to his country, and he died a painless death in the arms of his friend.  His friends buried him that night as soon as it was dark just behind the trench at great personal risk to themselves, as shelling and sniping were going on at the time.  One of them made a little wooden cross and marked it with his name and number, so that his grave might be identified.”




Stanley H Challen

 Stanley H Challen
Lance Sergeant – 18030
“A” Company 6th Royal Berkshire Regiment

 CWGC information lists Harold Stanley Challen. although the Initials on the Alfred Sutton Memorial show S.H. Challen. The 1911 census appears to have been completed by Stanley whose occupation was listed as Junior Clerk; he signs himself Stanley H Challen.  His father, Henry, was a Tailor’s Cutter and his sister a Drapers Assistant.   They were then living at 325, London Road. At the time of Stanley’s death his father was deceasedand by the time of the CWGC registration his mother, Annie, was living at 49,Bulmershe Road. Stanley died on  3rd May 1917 Aged 22.  He is buried in the Wancourt British Cemetery.  Grave location III. F. 12 

 The 6th Battalion Royal Berkshire Regiment had been part of the operations in the Ancre Valley during February 17/18 1917.  Official histories refer to the Actions of Miraumont, Battalion history to the Battle of Boom Ravine.  This action, whilst not achieving all its objectives,  was sufficiently hard on the Germans to precipitate their strategic withdrawal to the Hindenburg Line.  Fox et al in “Arras to Cambrai”  tell us that three companies, “B”, “C”, and “D” were involved in this action.  “A” company that of  Stanley Challen was probably held in reserve and he may not have participated in the action.   Following the action at Boom Ravine the battalion had a spell at Arras.  During this time they were in reserve for the final major attack in the Battle of Arras, launched on the 3rd May, but were called upon to relieve other units in the front line at Ch¾risy.  The offensive failed to reach  all but one of its objectives.  The 6th Battalion suffered repeatedly from heavy enemy shell fire during the action.  Between 3-18 May casualties for all ranks was 36 killed and 59 wounded.  Stanley Challen (in  “Arras to Cambrai” spelt Challin) was among those who lost their lives on the first day.

Stanley was remembered by the congregation at Park Church which was attended by his sister and Stanley may have attended Park Institute. His name is recorded on the Trinity Congregational War Memorial – Park Church was a daughter church.

Alfred John Chapman

Alfred John Chapman
Private 7091
3rd Battalion /   later 1st Battalion
Royal Berkshire Regiment.

 Grave Location – Tilehurst St. Georges Church burial ground.

Chapman A J

Private Alfred John Chapman, was born in Streatley and enlisted at Churn.  He lived at 44, Coley Terrace, Reading.

The Reading Chronicle Jan 15 1915  (pg. 5 col. 5) published an account of his  military funeral.  Private Chapman had several years service in the militia being called up as a Reservist at the outbreak of war.  He received a shrapnel wound in November 1914,  whilst at the front and was for a time at the Cambridge hospital.  On returning home his health gradually gave way and he died on 5th January 1915.  Several members of Private Chapman’s regiment attended the funeral and the coffin was borne by 6 comrades, a firing party was in attendance..

A report in the Reading Standard Jan 16th 1915 stated that the funeral took place in the Reading cemetery.   However, the grave number was unknown and several searches of the burial records later revealed that he was not in fact buried in the Old Reading Cemetery but in Tilehurst.

The 3rd Battalion Royal Berkshire Regiment

 At the outbreak of war in August 1914 the Depot of the Royal Berkshire Regiment and the HQ of the 3rd Battalion (Special Reservists) was at the Barracks, on the Oxford Road in Reading.

The duties of the Depot and the 3rd Battalion staff centred around the call up and the provision of clothing and equipment for all the Army Reservists  of the Regiment.  In total about 1,800 were called up and 540 despatched to the 1st Battalion.  Alfred John Chapman was almost certainly one of these men.

The remaining 1260 men went to Cosham, then Fort Purbrook, later they were based at the Victoria Barrack, Portsmouth and in November 1917 the Battalion was sent to Portobello Barracks, Dublin.  During the war Petre tells us that the 21,605 officers and men passed through the 3rd battalion.  15,533 were sent to the BEF.  The remaining 7,000is accounted for by transfers, discharges, deaths, desertions and demobilisation.

After the war men from all battalions of the Regiment were sent to the 3rd Battalion for demobilisation.  This included returned prisoners of war.  Demobilisation was a complicated affair and there were many grievances.  “Pivotal men” i.e. those called up late in the war, largely employers, were let out first so that other men could have jobs to go to.  However, the fighting men thought that they were being let out under false pretences.   However, in Dublin, there was reportedly an excellent mess and occupations like football, cross country running, boxing, ceremonial parades and picnics in Phoenix Park kept the men busy.  A added occupation involved the rounding up members of Sinn Fein.  The 3rd Battalion was “disembodied” on 5th September 1919.