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  • Christina Drummond

Lance Corporal Arthur Bruce Stead, 9th Battalion, Duke of Wellington’s (West Riding Regiment)

Remembering the Fallen: on this day in 1916, Lance Corporal Arthur Bruce Stead, 9th Battalion, Duke of Wellington’s (West Riding Regiment), was listed as missing in action at Longueval on the Western Front. Despite being wounded, he had chosen to lead a stretcher party from the front lines to the dressing station, and that was the last time he was known to have been seen.

His parents’ only son, Lance Corporal Stead had been employed as a traveller with a wholesale milliners in Bradford before joining the Army just after the outbreak of the Great War. Of the young men from his small close-knit village who enlisted, thirteen did not return and they are memorialized on the village war memorial erected after the second world war.

After he had been reported missing, Lance Corporal Stead’s parents received a letter from one of his friends saying that two members of the stretcher party which their son had been leading had been injured, but there was no news of him nor the others, so he told them to hold out hope as the communications were poor due to the German shelling of the lines. He went on to say: “He was a very good soldier, quiet, but very determined and devoted to duty.” Mr. and Mrs. Stead did indeed hold out hope as they received a letter from the Record Office in York stating that their son had been severely wounded but that no further information had come to hand, there being some uncertainty as to what had happened.

In 1928 the body of a British soldier, assumed unknown, was found near Longueval; however, a piece of waterproof sheeting was discovered as the body was removed for re-burial and it contained Lance Corporal Stead’s details. So twelve years after he went missing, his parents received a letter of sympathy from his former commanding officer to state that he was now known to have been killed in action and that at the time he had been hastily buried in one of the many scattered graves. He was re-buried with reverence in the Serre Road Cemetery at Beaumont-Hamel, a commune in the Somme department in Hauts-de-France in northern France.

Arthur, from Eldwick, Yorkshire, was 26 years old.

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