On this day 97 years ago, S/971 Private John West Arnold, 2nd Battalion: Queens Own (Royal West Kent Regiment) died from wounds received in action. Now this might not mean much to people, another name on a wall of soldiers who have been killed in action however I think these names deserve to be restored to the people who owned them, and this is just one story from thousands.
John was the son of Alfred and Ellen Freeman Arnold, of 181, Homesdale Rd., Bromley, Kent; and the husband of Alice Arnold. He died of wounds; 17/03/1916 Aged 41 and is buried in Amara War Cemetery, Iraq. He is entitled to the British War and Victory medal.
John enlisted into the Army Reserves on a 1 year service contract (although this also stated for “the duration” i.e. for as long as the war lasted) aged 39, on the 23rd of September 1914. He did so at Maidstone in Kent, having previously served 12 years in the Reserves with the West Riding Regiment, however it was at his own request that he served with the Royal West Kent’s. In civilian life he was a painter’s labourer, and at his death he left behind a widow, Alice, and six children: Henry [12yo] James [9yo], John [6yo], William [2yo], Christopher [not yet born] and Bernice? [10yo]. Christopher was born on the 31st of August 1916, and never knew his father.
He received a gunshot wound to the head on the 24th of February 1916, and he subsequently died of these wounds on the 17th of March 1916 in hospital in Amarah still under siege.
He had served his country actively with the Royal West Kent’s for 1 year, 176 days. His records show he had been posted to the 2nd Battalion, which was part of the Indian Expeditionary Force (I.E.F.), [I believe this was part of the larger Mesopotamia Expeditionary Force], on the 10th of December 1915. His records state he was 9th Battalion attached to the 2nd Battalion, but this merely means he was with them for training and home service, as they were a Reserve Battalion, before being posted overseas to the 2nd Battalion.
Two Companies from the 2nd Battalion were attached to the 30th Brigade in the 6th (Poona) Division in November 1915 and became besieged by the Turks at Kut-al-Amara, not far from Baghdad, in the Basra province. Many units had attempted over the months to reach the men besieged there, but all had been driven back, with the remaining men at the garrison surrendering on the 28th of April due to lacks of food, water and a cholera outbreak. He is likely to have been wounded during one of the repeated attacks during the siege.
If you wish to know more about the Regiment, Battalion, Mesopotamia or the siege at Kut-El-Amara you can find lots more information here:
Queens Own (Royal West Kent Regiment):
The attempted relief of Kut-El-Amara:
Commonwealth War Graves Commission: