Retro: Sheffield man’s plea over father’s war service

Harry Arnold, middle back row'Lydd, Kent, August 1917 'World War 1'''Submitted by John Arnold''84 Carterknowle Road, S7 2DZ

Harry Arnold, middle back row'Lydd, Kent, August 1917 'World War 1'''Submitted by John Arnold''84 Carterknowle Road, S7 2DZ

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The son of a Sheffield man who served in World War One has written in to try to find out more about his army years.

John Dennis Arnold, who is aged 73 and lives in Carterknowle, Sheffield, also brought in these fascinating photographs, found by his older brother Geoffrey Alan Arnold.

World War 1 - Loth, Nr Brussels, January 1919'''Submitted by John Arnold''84 Carterknowle Road, S7 2DZ

World War 1 - Loth, Nr Brussels, January 1919'''Submitted by John Arnold''84 Carterknowle Road, S7 2DZ

John wrote: “For many months, in fact for years, we have been trying to find out more about our father Harry Arnold’s service during the First World War.

“We have had little success because we knew so little about his army life. All we could give anyone who is trying to find out more about him was his name, Harry Arnold. He was born in Bradway, Sheffield in 1898.

“That was about it until last week my brother, who had moved to Chesterfield in 1988, unearthed a veritable treasure trove of family photographs in his garage, which he had never been in since he moved.

“He found several photos of our father in uniform and I enclose them here.

“We have got so much more information about my father, including his army number 151423 Gunner, and two of his army medals.

“We also had a Christmas card sent to him originally to the 21st Company RGA (what does RGA stand for?) at Leith Fort, Leith, Scotland, and the redirected to 436 Siege Battery, Broughty Ferry (what was the siege battery?).

“There are several photos, obviously of his fellow soldiers, most of whom I don’t suppose came from Sheffield, or maybe they did.

“There is also a photo showing the funeral of Edith Cavell, who I believe was a nurse who was shot by the Germans for helping British soldiers.

“Some of the photos are taken in places such as Lydd, Kent in 1917, Loth near Brussels in 1918/19 and Cologne in May 1919.

“I wonder if you know of anyone, some military historian maybe, who may be able to piece together all of this and finally discover our father’s First World War career.”

We’re afraid we can’t take on much research into individuals here at Retro but we can answer some qwuestions.

The RGA refers to the Royal Garrison Artillery and the Siege Batteries were equipped with heavy railway or road-mounted howitzers, launching large-calibre, high-explosive shells in a high trajectory.

Military experts say that the batteries were most often employed in destroying or neutralising the enemy artillery, as well as putting destructive fire down on strongpoint fortified defensive positions, dumps, store, roads and railways behind enemy lines.

The photograph of Harry, who is the one seated, on the front cover was taken in Cologne in 1919, which suggests that he took part in the occupation of the Rhine. The forces of victorious nations occupied different areas of Germany as part of the Armistice agreement that ended the war in 1918 to prevent German remilitarisation.

One of the pictures seen here has a sign that mentions the Bing Boys. This is probably a reference to a popular London theatre show, The Bing Boys Are Here, which ran for two years from 1916.

It starred the comedian George Robey and introduced the song, If You Were the Only Girl in the World.

Of course, Edith Cavell was a nurse working in German-occupied Belgium who was shot in August 1915 in for helping allied soldiers to escape across the border into the neutral Netherlands. Her death caused an international outcry.

If you can help John and his brother to find more about their father’s war service, contact us here at Retro and we’ll put you in touch.

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