In my last blog we saw Arved Waterhouse, who was living at Shenstone House in 1914, enlist as a 2nd Lieutenant in the King’s Own Royal Lancaster Regiment. He embarked for France aboard the SS Saturnia and arrived in Boulogne on 23rd August 1914.
The British Expeditionary Force was fighting a series of bitter actions against the swiftly advancing German Army. Arved’s battalion fought from the 7th to the 10th September at the Battle of the Marne and from the 12th to the 15th September at the Battle of the Aisne.
The Battalion arrived at Hazebrouck on October 12th in preparation for what would be known as the ‘Battle of Armentieres’. This action was one of the first formal attacks made by the British Expeditionary Force since the outbreak of war.
The following day, 13th October, the British attacked the line running between Armentieres and Wytschaete, an area of low ridges which provided good defensive positions for the Germans and they were eventually successful in capturing the village of Meteren, near Ypres.
The attack began at about noon in a thick mist which hindered visibility on both sides.The four Companies of the Battalion all attacked in support of each other.
In ‘A’ Company, Arved led his platoon in the attack against their objective which was strongly defended with machine guns. As they moved forward there was no serious opposition to contend with other than a few shots from small arms.
The Battalion advanced in extended order with about four paces between each man. The officers wore their swords and the first casualty was Arved Waterhouse who was killed by a bullet as he walked over the quiet fields. The bullet smashed his sword and entered his body.
He had joined ‘A’ Company only two days before.
Arved is buried in the Military Cemetery at Meteren along with 45 other men from the King’s Own. A further 34 were wounded in the attack and 15 men were listed as ‘missing’. He is also commemorated in St John’s Church, Helsington.
The village of Meteren, or what was left of it, was captured by the British and was held until the Germans re-took the area in their final offensive in April 1918.
I think that it is an extreme irony that Arved, who was born in Vienna, should become one of the first casualties of a war between the land of his birth and the country in which he grew up.
Many thanks are due to Mike Fleetwood and the King’s Own Royal Regimental Museum, Lancaster on whom I have relied heavily in preparing these articles.