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  • Christina Drummond

Private Arthur Percy Bale, 2nd Battalion, the Hampshire Regiment

Remembering the Fallen: on this day in 1916, Private Arthur Percy Bale, 2nd Battalion, the Hampshire Regiment, was killed in action on the Somme.

He was the only son of the music hall artiste Professor Tyko Menia, who performed in a juggling act, as a clown, and with his performing dog, Towzer, in the United Kingdom, Europe and the U.S.A.. Private Bale as a child assisted his father in performances in their home town of Bognor Regis, and in 1910 at the age of fourteen was himself a music hall artiste billed as Young Tyko Menia. In 1913, at the age of sixteen, Private Bale join the 2/9th Cyclist Battalion – a fitting choice given that his family were keen cyclists, having had a cycling act during their stage career.

In October of 1915, Private Bale volunteered for service in the Hampshire Regiment, and was with the 2nd Battalion in Beaumont Hamel on the first day of the Somme offensive, the 1st in July, 1916. Later that month the regiment was sent to the Ypres sector, to return to the Somme on the 7th of October.

By the 11th of October he was in the trenches south of Gueuedecourt. The Battalion records show that on the 17th of October there were thirteen wounded, ten sick, and one killed – Private Bale. He has no known grave, and is memorialised on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme, as well as at the Bognor Regis Memorial Hospital. In 2012 at a special exhibition at the Historial de la Grande Guerre, the First World War Museum in Peronne, France, he was the soldier chosen to represent all those who went missing on the 17th of October, 1916.

Arthur, born in Paddington, was 20 years old.

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