Remembering the Fallen: on this day in 1914, Captain Arthur Hilliard Williams Temple, 2nd Battalion, the Suffolk Regiment, was killed in action in Flanders.
The son of the rector of Thorpe Morieux, he was educated at the King's School in Ely. In 1894 he was commissioned into the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry (Militia) and transferred to the Suffolk Regiment three years later. Captain Temple received the Queen’s medal with three clasps and the King’s medal with two clasps for his service during the South African wars, where he saw action in the Transvaal, the Orange River Colony and at Colesberg. He was then seconded for service in Somaliland with the King's African Rifles. Promotion to the rank of captain came in 1905 when he was appointed as Adjutant of the newly formed Territorial 5th Battalion of his regiment. Then in 1913 he retired from the active list to the Reserve of Officers, and took on the post of vicar’s warden at his local church, where his work was greatly appreciated and he was held in high esteem.
At the outbreak of the Great War Captain Temple reported for service and was initially attached to the 3rd (Special Reserve) Battalion in command of the sea defence section, the following month being sent to France. Due to heavy casualties, Captain Temple took command of the battalion and was later mentioned in Sir John French’s despatches. On the day of his death the battalion saw action in an attack on Petit Bois. Twenty minutes after the relief Captain Temple was shot through the head. It was recorded that he fell into the arms of his batman, 22-year-old Private Robert Girbow, who was himself shot and killed by a sniper two days later.
Private Edwin Catchpole wrote to Captain Temple’s sister: “We have just come out of a terrible battle; I shall never forget it. I would like to let the Suffolk people know what our late Captain was to his Company…we went in support of the Gordons and Royal Scots who charged the German trenches…the charge was successful, the Germans being driven into a wood in the rear of their trenches, making the latter very dangerous and exposed…we had to withstand several charges to get the trenches back again, but they found the task beyond their power. It was in these trenches that we lost our beloved Captain. He was loved and respected by all, those who served with him in South Africa, also in this campaign. The kindness he showed to our company when they came from the trenches, sodden wet through, giving us new socks and other articles of clothing which his wife had sent out to him for his company, we shall never forget. I have seen him when meeting refugees put his hand in his pocket and assist them; no one knew what he gave; he did not believe in show. A shell burst in the trenches in which I was lying, and the Captain came up and enquired if anyone was hurt. His cheery remarks always gave us inspiration, and when the word was passed round that he was wounded, and subsequently that he had died, there was grief among all-officers and men. He was fearless, brave and self-sacrificing under all conditions, and was never satisfied until he had done his very best for all. He will be missed by all who came in contact with him".
Arthur, from Medway in Kent, was 39 years old and married with a four-year-old daughter and two-year-old son.