Sad pictures show family of Sheffield soldier killed in Iron 12 wartime atrocity

These poignant pictures show the brother of a Sheffield soldier killed in a terrible atrocity in World War One, who also lost his own life in the conflict.

Tuesday, 10th September 2019, 16:22 pm
The execution site at Guise Château - It was to here that the British soldiers were taken and forced to dig their own graves

Arthur Howard was the brother of George Howard, one of a group of soldiers known as the Iron 12.

Historian Hedley Malloch wrote an account for Retro (August 24) of the biggest single execution of soldiers on the Western Front, based on his book The Killing of the Iron Twelve (Pen & Sword Books).

That prompted Richard and Mary Howard of Westfield, Sheffield to get in touch with these pictures of George's brother Arthur. Richard is Arthur’s grandson.

Arthur Howard (left) with unknown comrade

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For five months at the start of the First World War, the village of Iron in northern France sheltered a group of 11 British soldiers.

They were betrayed to the Germans and shot after being forced to dig their own graves. The 12th victim was a villager, Vincent Chalandre.

Both Sheffield soldiers were serving in an Irish regiment, the Connaught Rangers.

Private George Howard lived at View Road, Heeley with his parents and two brothers, Arthur and William.

Arthur Howard with wife Rosina and children Edna (left) and Alice

His father, Elijah, was a sub-contractor working in James Dixon’s works at Cornish Place, Sheffield.

Arthur was killed on the first day of the Somme in July 1916 and William died a year later at Arras.

Private William Thompson was a forgeman from Dutton Road, Owlerton, Sheffield .

Mary Howard said: "We knew a little bit about it. My husband has been to the grave. The owners of the chateau allowed them through as they were related and showed them it.”

She said: “I thought it was sad and tragic. Things like that couldn’t happen nowadays.”

Mary said that Arthur and George looked very alike and that carries on through the family today.

She said members of the family are interested to read the book and will also go to a lecture given by Hedley Malloch to the Western Front Association at Manor Academy, Millfield Lane, Nether Poppleton, York on November 9 at 2.30pm. Details: