Sergeant 4277 Arthur William Henry RAYNOR, D.C.M. ‘C’ Company
Captured: 24 August 1914 Repatriated: 22 January 1919
Personal: Arthur was born in Fermoy, Ireland, on 19th December 1879. He was the son of Arthur (Coachman) and Mary Emma (née Luckey) Raynor (later of 18 Loxley Terrace, Owlerton, Sheffield).
N.B. for some reason some of her later children show a maiden name of ‘Williamson’ on their Birth Certificates.
Arthur had 8 younger siblings, Caroline Elizabeth Dorothea [known as ‘Lily’] (b. 1881), Mary Maudeline Margaret (b. 1885), Rowland Edwin John (b. 1887), James Albert (b. 1888 – baptised 14 May at St Thomas’ Church, Featerstone, Yorkshire) [see Footnotes below]. Robert Henry was born in 1891, but died after a few months, then Emily Hilda (b. 1893, but also died after four months) and Frances Bellwood [known as ‘Rita’] (b. 1895). Another daughter, Doris Irene, was born on 4 April 1901, but lived only 9 days.
In 1891 (Census RG 12/3760) the family was living at Purston Lodge, Featherstone, Yorkshire. (Next to Purston Hall, the home of the Hall family.)
At the time of his enlistment, aged 14, Arthur stood 4 ft. 6½ ins. [1.38 m.] tall, weighed 4 st. 13 lbs. [31.3 kgs.], had a ‘fresh’ complexion, blue eyes and brown hair. [Whilst stationed at Aldershot in June 1896 he received a “Facial wound“, after being hit by a cricket ball!]
On 6th September 1904 Arthur married Lucy Mary Jacklin at St George’s Garrison Church, Aldershot (left – c. 1913). They had 7 children, Dorothy Lilian (born 10th August 1905 at Wellington Barracks, India), Arthur William (born 19th March 1908 at Wellington Barracks), Albert (b. 26th March 1910 at Secunderabad, India, but died on 2nd October 1910, aged 5 months), Rowland (b. 18th March 1910 in Belfast, probably at Victoria Barracks after the 1st Battalion returned from India) and Walter Conway (b. 4th November 1913 at Londonderry, Ireland). [See Footnotes below]
In August 1915 whilst Arthur was a p-o-w, Lucy and the children were living at 6 Stockwell Road, Handsworth, Birmingham. After his repatriation, Arthur and Lucy had two more sons, Edward William (born 6 March 1924 at Birkenhead, Cheshire) and Gerald Francis (b. 31 August 1929, also in Birkenhead).
The 1921 Census shows the family living at 72 Argyle Street, Birkenhead, Cheshire, and Arthur, though officially discharged, was working for “H.M. Govt.” as an “Army Recruiter“.
The 1939 Register shows Arthur and Lucy living at 41 Grange Road, Birkenhead. Arthur was employed as a “Recruiting Sergeant Major”, at the age of 6o still working for the Cheshire Regiment.
Arthur’s obituary in The Liverpool Echo of 9th November 1961 (left) shows he died at Clatterbridge Hospital, Bebington, Birkenhead, Wirral, on 8th November 1961, aged 81. The family home at the time was 10 Newlands Road, Bebington.
His cause of death was liver and pancreatic cancers. Arthur’s committal service was held at Landican (probably on Saturday, 18th November) prior to his cremation.
In the March quarter 1964 Lucy re-married William R. Cliffe. She died in 1971.
Military Service: Arthur enlisted at Sheffield on 12 July 1893, for 12 years active service. He stated his age as 14 years 0 months and posted to the 2nd Battalion. After 3 years’ service as a Private he received his 1st Good Conduct badge – a second followed on 12 July 1898.
Arthur was appointed a ‘Drummer’ on 4th April 1896, reverting to Private on 27th May 1899. He was back as a Drummer on 7th January 1900, and back to Private the following February. He was promoted to Lance Corporal in February 1903, but back to Drummer on 2nd March 1904. (postcard, right, c. 1910)
On 11th June 1904 Arthur extended his period of service to 21 years and was again promoted to Lance Corporal on 1st July 1904. On the 12th of that month he received his 3rd Good Conduct Badge.
On 3rd August 1908 Arthur was promoted to Corporal and on 27th October 1910 was posted to the 1st Battalion. He was promoted to Lance Sergeant on 9th March 1911 and to Sergeant on 18th November 1911.
The first 6 years 179 days of Arthur’s service was based in England, but on 7th January 1900 was posted to South Africa. During the South Africa (Boer) War he was awarded the Queen’s South Africa Medal (Clasps for Cape Colony, Johannesburg and Orange Free State) and the King’s South Africa Medal (Clasps for 1901 and 1902).
On 27th October 1902 he returned home before being posted to India on 29th September 1904. After just over 6 years he again returned home and after his transfer to the 1st Battalion was posted to Ireland until joining the B.E.F. in France in August 1914.
Arthur was due to be discharged after 21 years’ service on 11th July 1914, but was again allowed to extend his service beyond 21 years on 2nd March 1914, under Section 85 of the Army Act.
On the morning of 24th August 1914 the order came to send the 1st Battalion into action to hold up the enemy advance whilst the remainder of 5th Division withdrew.
About 5.00 p.m. the order came to retire. They left the road and moved along the railway line in the direction of the Bois d’Audregnies. To get to the railway they had to negotiate several hundred yards of rising under heavy-machine gun fire.
Only about half-a-dozen men made it. Sergeant 4277 A. Raynor (9th Platoon, ‘C’ Company) fixed his bayonet and took upon himself the duty of scout.
They passed a small group of trees, then along a track in a field, into a hedge-bordered lane, then to pasture-land south-west of Wiheries.
Crookenden described what happened next: “‘Here they ran into the Magdeburg Regiment which was going into bivouac. Of those who remained Capt. Jones and Pte. E. Hogan were killed. Cpl. Crookes, who had previously been wounded, collapsed and Pte. F. Garrad was mortally wounded.
Raynor and Blake were soon rounded up by the enemy after a gallant resistance. Sgt. Raynor, who had shown great courage and initiative, and who had fought on to the last, was later awarded the DCM.
His true character is best shown by his own words when Cpl. Crookes saw him later in the grip of 3 Germans; “If I had known you were living I – well wouldn’t have given in“. The door to safety was barred, but a gallant fragment of the 1st Battalion still fought on.”
Arthur was captured at Audregnies on 24th August 1914, unofficially reported a prisoner of war (W.O. Communique 1185) and officially when interred in Holland on 29th December 1917.
On 30th January 1915 he was in Munsterlager, and on 28th August 1915 Arthur was reported at Soltau Camp, before he was: “.. Zwecke Austauschs nach Aachen űbergefűhrt.” [Transferred to Aachen for exchange purposes]
The photograph – right – shows Arthur whilst a prisoner-of-war at Soltau.
However, on 31st October 1917 he was still a p-o-w at Hameln (Hamlin). On 29th December 1917 Arthur arrived in Holland for internment.
He was finally repatriated via Hull on board SS Stockport, on 22nd January 1919 and was discharged from the Army on 29 June 1920. He and his family moved to live at 72 Argyle Street, Birkenhead, Cheshire. With effect from the next day, 9th June, Arthur was awarded a ‘Pension for Life‘ at a daily rate of “48½d” [4s 0½d or 20.05p. equivalent to about £11.50 per day (c. £4200 per year) today – 2023]
In total Arthur served 26 years 355 days with the Colours, 4 years 159 days in France and Germany, all but 8 days of which was as a prisoner-of-war. His Military Conduct stated just one word – “Exemplary“. Arthur returned to duty at the start of World War 2 as a “Recruiting Sergeant Major“.
Sergeant Arthur Raynor was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal for his bravery, awarded 3rd February 1920. (pictured on right)
As well as his Boer War and Great War Medals Arthur received a Silver Medal for ‘Long Service and Good Conduct’ (with gratuity) – left
Arthur served as a Drummer / Bugler with the 2nd Battalion during the South African (Boer) War, gaining the Q.S.A. (3 Clasps) and K.SA. (2 Clasps), pictured right.
After the War Cpl. 10066 W. Crookes (“C” Coy), who witnessed the burials of Captain Jones and Drummer Hogan, wrote an article detailing the events of 24th August. [Published in “The Oak Leaf“, pps 150 – 157.]
Arthur’s son, Lieutenant 171684 Rowland R. RAYNOR, Royal Artillery, 135 (The Hertfordshire Yeomanry) Field Regt., was killed in action on 27 Jan 1942, aged 30. Column 35, Singapore Memorial.
In the December quarter 1936 Rowland had married Dorothy Evelyn Newland and in 1939 they were living at 61 Inverness Road, Greenwich, London. They had two children, Dorothy, born 12th September 1938, and Joan, born July 1941. (Photo – right – Dorothy and baby Dorothy)
Arthur’s son, Corporal 3443654 Walter Conway RAYNOR, 2nd Battalion, Lancashire Fusiliers, was killed in action on 4 November 1942, aged 29. He is buried in Grave 3.H.2., Dely Ibrahim War Cemty, Algiers.
In the September quarter 1939 Walter married Connie Hawkins in Colchester, Essex. Their daughter, Rosemary, was born in the March quarter 1941. In the September quarter 1946 Connie re-married, Sidney Bland.
Arthur’s son, Private 5348565 Edward William RAYNOR, served with the Royal Berkshire Regt. He enlisted on 12 August 1940 and was discharged on 9 June 1945.
Edward married Beatrice Ann Roberts on 28 March 1945 in Birkenhead, Cheshire, and they had a daughter and two sons. He died in January 2005 at Birkenhead.
Arthur’s younger brother, Driver 51816 Rowland Edwin John RAYNOR, served with the 93rd Battery, Royal Field Artillery.
The 1911 Census shows he was already serving and was posted to France on 20 August 1914. Rowland died in service on 1 April 1915 in the District Hospital, Newbury, of Tuberculosis and Abdominal Haemorrhage, aged 28. He was buried in Newbury (Newtown Road) Cemetery, with full military honours on Easter Monday (5th April 1915). His ‘home’ address was recorded as 5 Thursa Street, Sheffield.
Another of Arthur’s younger brothers, Private 25377 James Albert RAYNOR, enlisted in the Army Service Corps, in Manchester, on 11 July 1907. He was promoted to Corporal, 504 Coy., H.T.
On the outbreak of War James sailed to join the B.E.F. in France, arriving on 23 August 1914. He was posted to the 4th Divisional Train on 29th November. In June 1918 he received a “Gun Shot Wound – Buttock” and returned to England for convalescence. He was transferred to the Army Reserve on 6 December 1918.
On 27 April 1909 James had married Amy Mayle at the Register Office, Devonport. They had three children, William Arthur (born 13 September 1909 – died June 1988), Doris Irene (b. 21 March 1911 – died January 1935) and James Albert (b. 16 January 1914 – died 23 May 1992).
Sources: I am grateful to Arthur’s descendent, Colin, for the photo at the top of this page, taken in 1922) and for providing information on the extended family.