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Arthur Josiah Hinsley was born in Burnley in 1895 to Gilbert Arthur and Annie Hinsley (nee Gawthorne). Gilbert and Annie married in Burnley, their marriage registered in the December quarter of 1894. Arthur was the eldest of three children, the other two being; John (1896) and Elizabeth (1898). Arthur`s father, a wagon builder, was originally from Whitewell in Yorkshire whilst his mother was born in Nelson and in 1901 the family lived at 34 Waterbarn Street in Burnley.

By 1911 Arthur and his family had moved to 7 Cleaver Street in Burnley, his father`s occupation now recorded as a colliery storekeeper. Arthur and his brother John were both cotton weavers and 12 year old Elizabeth was a `half-timer`, working half a day in a draper`s shop and the other half attending school.

According to his service papers Arthur attested on the 10th January 1916, joining the 5th (Reserve) Battalion East Lancashire Regiment and was issued initially with the service number 4643. His medical inspection noted that he was 5`5” tall and had a 33½” chest. Arthur confirmed his occupation as a tram driver working on the Burnley trams. He was unmarried and had no previous military service. For official purposes, Arthur named his father as his next of kin. He was posted to the reserve but only briefly before being mobilised on the 21st February 1916. After approximately six months of training Arthur embarked for France on the 7th August 1916 with reinforcements. He spent ten days at the Infantry Base Depot before being posted to the 1/4th Battalion Loyal North Lancashire Regiment with his new service number of 6281.

About a month after joining the 1/4th Battalion LNL William was initially reported missing after action on the 9th September 1916. His mother placed the following advertisement in one of the local newspapers requesting any information about her son;

WOUNDED AND MISSING – Mother desires news

“First reported “wounded” and now reported “wounded and missing”. Mrs Hinsley of 7 Cleaver Street, Burnley, is very anxious to secure definite news of her son, Private Arthur Hinsley ((No.6281 late 4643) of the Loyal North Lancashires. Private Hinsley, who was 21 years of age last Christmas, was formerly a driver on the Burnley trams, and enlisted on February 8th. He came home on his last leave the week after the July holidays, and went to the front on August 7th. A month and two days later he was reported to have been wounded, and now to be missing. He was connected with St. Andrew`s. A good runner, he took part in the races at Aldershot earlier in the year before the King. His brother, John, has been serving with the R.F.A. since May of last year.

One of Arthur`s chums in a letter home says; “We were good chums, We were together in the trenches up to the Saturday dinner, and then we got parted. `Hard luck` he got took as a runner. Then we went over the top. I never saw him after. This is about three or four weeks ago. When we came out of the trenches I missed him. I enquired about him, because we were the best of chums. I heard nothing for a week. Then somebody told me he had got killed. Then I heard he was shell shocked and in hospital. I also enquired here, and they seemed to think he was wounded….I know it is hard, but look on the bright side. I have missed him a great deal. We used to share everything we had. He was a nice boy. We always got on together. I only hope God will protect him wherever he may be”.

The casualties from the action were heavy, 24 men were killed including Second Lieutenants W.E. Pyke and E.F. Falby. There were also 125 men wounded; and a further 79 men missing, many were also later identified as having been killed.

Extract from the Battalion War History;

At 16.45hrs on 9th September 1916 the 1/4th Battalion was part of an attack launched by XIV Corps. 164th Bde (including B and C Companies of 1/4th LNL) were to attack and take a line of trenches than ran between Ginchy and Delville Wood. The plan was to `go over the top` and take Hop Alley and then Ale Alley. Hop Alley was taken, but Ale Alley wasn`t reached due to the intensity of the enemy machine-gun fire. The attackers fell back to their original line.

As Arthur was still officially classed as `missing` in 1917, he was allocated a new style TF service number 202891. Arthur had in fact already been buried and his grave was later found, his body exhumed and identified and then he was eventually reburied in Delville Wood Cemetery.

After the war his mother took receipt of the British War and Victory Medals to which he was entitled and she would also have received his Memorial Plaque and Scroll in recognition of his sacrifice.

Photo taken July 2016

Janet Davis
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