Heroic Victoria Cross recipient has Sheffield army unit building named after him
A newly refurbished army reserve centre has been renamed to honour an ex-serviceman who was awarded the Victoria Cross.
The Manor Top Army Reserve Centre has been named Loosemore House after Victoria Cross and Distinguished Conduct Medal winner Sergeant Arnold Loosemore.
The 4th Battalion, The Yorkshire Regiment invited grandson Kevin Loosemore, daughter-in-law Audrey Loosemore and other family members to the official reopening of the facility when a plaque was unveiled.
Arnold Loosemore was the youngest of seven brothers born in June 1896 to George and Selina Loosemore in Dyson Lane, Sharrow.
He was a pupil at Clifford Road CofE School on Psalter Lane.
At the outbreak of the First World War he attempted to enlist, but was turned down due to his diminutive size.
Undeterred he gained employment with a local coal merchant with the view of building up his strength, to then re-apply.
This proved successful, and he was accepted into the York and Lancaster Regiment in Jan 1915.
After basic training he was quickly transferred to the 3rd then the 8th Battalion the Duke of Wellington's Regiment and was involved in the battle of Gallipoli – at just 18 – against the Turkish military.
From there he was transferred to Egypt where he was trained in the use of The Lewis machine gun.
In 1917 Private Loosemore was deployed to Langemarck, Ypres in Belgian Flanders in August 1917.
Quickly his regiment was heavily involved in the advance, however they were forced to withdraw, as his company had advanced further than their flanks.
During this retreat – which is where Pte Loosemore distinguished himself – the following citation was given in respect of his Victoria Cross:
“For most conspicuous bravery and initiative during the attack on a strongly-held enemy position.
"His platoon having been checked by heavy machine gun fire, he crawled through partially cut wire, dragging his Lewis gun with him, and single-handed dealt with a strong party of the enemy, killing about 20 of them, and thus covering the consolidation of the position taken up by his platoon.
“Immediately afterwards his Lewis gun was blown up by a bomb, and three enemies rushed for him, but he shot them all with his revolver.
“Later, he shot several enemy snipers, exposing himself to heavy fire each time.
“On returning to the original post, he also brought back a wounded comrade under heavy fire at the risk of his life. He displayed throughout, an utter disregard of danger.”
Pte Loosemere was then promoted to Corporal due to his actions.
He returned to London and was awarded his Victoria Cross by King George V on January 2, 1918.
After his presentation in London, he was again recognised, on his return to Sheffield, along with father and two of his brothers who were also on leave.
This was well attended by the Sheffield public with around 2,000 in attendance.
Kevin Loosemore said: “He won his VC when he was 19, he came back over here and was presented it by the King.
“The regiment wanted him to stay in England, and just go around the different training camps, and tell the soldiers how great it was out there, how fantastic and wonderful, just to build up morale of the troops.
“But he wouldn’t do it because he'd got six brothers, who were out there, his dad was out there, his friends were out there.
“‘I can’t leave them out there, I need to go back’ he said.”
Sgt Loosemore VC DCM went back to serve on the field of battle and on the night of June 19, 1918 the 1st and 4th DWR conducted a raid in the Zillebeke sector, capturing 11 prisoners and a light machine gun.
It was during this action that Sgt Loosemore won his Distinguished Conduct Medal DCM for his leadership and actions when his platoon commander was injured.
The sergeant was to still find himself in more violent actions.
In October 1918 – baring in mind the war was to end in November 1918 – the company was sent to Villers-en-Cauchies. Outside the town they came under heavy machine gun fire, taking several casualties including Sgt Loosemore taking enemy rounds in both legs.
Due to the severity of his wounds, his left leg was amputated and he was evacuated back to England. After a spell of recuperation he was medically discharged in May 1920.
On August 24, 1920 Sgt Loosemore married Amy Morton and they had a son, also called Arnold.
After investing in a chicken farm and later working as a photographer, he found working soon proved too difficult due to his injuries.
As a result of these he contracted TB, and succumbed to his illness in 1927 leaving his wife and three-year-old son.
Due to his wife Amy marrying her decorated husband after he sustained his injuries, his pension was stopped immediately when he died leaving his wife and son in poverty.
Kevin said: “My dad was three when my granddad died.
“The city council as was, arranged a wonderful funeral for my granddad, after already refusing my grandma a pension, because she married him knowing of his injuries.
“Then when they had the funeral they sent the bill to my grandma.”
Local businesses rallied round to collect money to serve as a pension for Sgt Loosemore’s widow and son.
“Because of what had happened, some of the main players in Sheffield, some of the high business people, got a savings club together for him which was to be a pension for my grandma, but she saw very little of that.
“She struggled very badly. My dad was brought up with my mum and her sister, his auntie, in a small house on Stannington Road,” said Kevin.
The newly-named Loosemore House will stand as a permanent reminder of the selfless acts of this courageous Yorkshireman.
Burma Company of the 4th Battalion will use the centre to train for military operations in the UK and overseas.