Arthur, Henry Bartle Compton

Major / Royal Field Artillery

1879 - 1916

Henry Bartle Compton Arthur was born 14 October 1879, the son of John Rayner Arthur of Hartley Wintney, late of the Bombay Civil Service, and one of three Wykehamist brothers. His mother was the Hon. Aileen Spring Rice.

He came to Winchester College from Mr Arnold's school at Wixenford in May 1893 and was in H House, Bramston's. He then went up to New College, Oxford in 1896 and took his degree early so that he could serve in the South African War - on the recommendation of the Vice-Chancellor was appointed to the Royal Artillery.

He subsequently saw many years service in India and was stationed there when the war started. Within a few months he was ordered to Europe as Adjutant to the 5th Brigade of Artillery (Lahore Division) in the Indian Expeditionary Force. He arrived in France on 7 November 1914 where the Indian Expeditionary Force were holding a stretch of the Western Front in Artois.  Promoted to Captain in December 1914 he was involved in actions at Festubert, Givenchy and Neuve Chapelle between November 1914 and March 1915.

In 1915, Arthur was given the command of 64th Battery, which he held till his death, rendering distinguished service; he was twice slightly wounded and three times mentioned in Despatches. The Battle of the Somme started on 1 July 1916 and caused horrific numbers of British casualties. Arthur's division was assigned to the 4th Australian Division, relieving the Australian Field Artillery in a place known as Sausage Valley and his battery was on the north east slope of the valley. The War Diary of the 5th Brigade indicates that the valley came under heavy shelling on 10 August and he was killed near Ovillers-La-Boisselle, while attending to one of his subalterns who had been mortally wounded by a shell bursting in the battery position. He and three other officers were buried a few yards from where they fell.

Major Arthur was a keen student of the theory and practice of war and a man of scholarly tastes. A prize essay of his on the comparative value of regular and irregular troops in war was published in 1908 by direction of the Chief of the Imperial General Staff.

Further information about Major Arthur's life can be found on the Banstead War Memorial:

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