Arthur L. Scragg

ARTHUR L. SCRAGG (1885 - 1917)

Lance Corporal Arthur Leonard Scragg of the 10th Battalion, Welsh Regiment, was originally a member of the Cheshire Regiment. Born in Macclesfield, in 1885, Arthur was the son of Samuel, an 'asylum attendant', and Alice (nee Smith) Scragg. He was the middle child of the family with two older and two younger sisters.

The family originally lived at 24, Brock Street. By 1901, they were living behind St Alban's church at 156, Great King Street on the corner of Albert Street. Interestingly, Arthur is listed as 'Leonard' on the 1901 Census form, which also tells that, at the age of sixteen, he was working as a 'silk twister' in one of the town's mills. At the age of twenty three, Arthur married local girl Annie Armitage in the winter of 1908.

Arthur enlisted at Chester. After final training at Winchester, he sailed for France with the Welsh Regiment, landing at Le Harve in December 1915. The Regiment headed for the Western Front where it remained until the end of the War. Infamously, Arthur and his comrades captured Mametz Wood during the First Battle of the Somme; so high was the number of casualties that the Regiment did not return to major action for more than a year. They returned to combat at the end of July 1917 when they took part in the Third Battle of Ypres.

Reports of the battle tell us that Arthur's Regiment, as part of the 114th Brigade (38th Division), faced approximately 280 pillboxes, each housing machine guns, as they approached the German lines. It is estimated that The Third Battle of Ypres cost the Allies a total of about three hundred casualties; thirty five men for every metre of land gained. Arthur was 'Killed in Action', aged thirty two, on the opening day of The Third Battle of Ypres on Tuesday 31 July 1917 during the Battle of Pilckem Ridge. Initially, he was reported missing in the 'War Office Daily Casualty List', which was published the following month on 19 September. Two years later - on 30 August 1919 - Arthur was laid to rest in a military cemetery. A 'Concentration of Graves' form shows that Arthur's remains were exhumed from the area around the battle site and given a Christian burial at Artillery Wood Cemetery, West Vlaanderen, Belgium. Arthur's original burial site was marked with a simple cross; there were no effects on his body, suggesting he was identified by his service tags. Arthur's widow, Annie, chose no additional epitaph to be added to the headstone on his final resting place. Consequently, his headstone, marked by a large cross and Regimental emblem, simply states his name and Regiment.

Arthur Scragg Grave
Arthur's headstone © International Wargraves Photography Project

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