The memory of Private Arthur Grundy and his death on the Somme has always made an impact on me, so much so that I have visited the battle area quite a few times, and always make the detour to visit the memorial at Thiepval on which his name is etched.
A young Arthur Grundy, before the conflict.
The centenary of his death, which was towards the end of September this year, made an even bigger impact both on me and my brother, and we commemorated it at the site, on the 25th, at 12.35 – the exact time when the attack he died in was launched by the British Army.
Arthur Cox (standing, left) and Arthur Grundy (front, bottom right).
The area is still one of open fields, and we stood in remembrance just in front of the site of the German trench that was facing his 10th Battalion of the KOYLI [King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry].
“It is a toss-up whether I shall ever see any fighting or not – I hope I do”
I have a number of letters Arthur wrote to my paternal grandmother Ethel, his much-loved sister. One written in early July hints at great successes along the line, and says, ‘It is a toss-up whether I shall ever see any fighting or not – I hope I do now that I am in France.’
A few weeks later, the happy theme continues: ‘The country here is splendid and the weather lovely, the food very good,’ for all the world like a young man enjoying a holiday in France – ‘much more beautiful than England’, as he describes it.
Private Arthur Cox (on the left) and Private Arthur.
His last letter to my grandmother is dated a few weeks before he met his death. He refers to being separated from his great friend, Arthur Cox, who left some days earlier to attend a machine gunner course, and adds that this is a better job than his own, so ‘I shall do my best to get with him’.
The Battle of Morval began on 25 September with an attack on the three primary trench-lines that guarded the town of Gueudecourt. Early on the 26th, a tank assisted in the capture of the last trench to fall, the Gird trench – only the second use of tanks in the entire war; but Private Arthur Grundy was dead by then.
John Richardson holds a picture of his great uncle Arthur Grundy who was killed in action at the Somme.
He had turned 21 three months earlier. My brother and I reflected on his sacrifice, with our backs to the Gird trench, 100 years after he made it.