Servicemen – Cutler

Arthur Edwin Cutler

profile provided by Peter Denchfield and used with permission

Arthur was the son of John and Lucy Cutler. Arthur’s birth was registered at Leighton Buzzard in the last quarter of 1896; one of his military forms states that he was born in October of that year.

Arthur was one of seven children born alive, all of whom were still living at the time of the 1911 Census. As well as Arthur, his parents had three sons: Lionel Francis, Albert Edward, and Frederick Charles, and three daughters: Edith Lillian, Florence May, and Elsie Winifred. Arthur was the second oldest of the seven. In early April 1911, Arthur, who was working as a farm labourer, and his family were living at Holly Hill, Leighton Road, Wing. Arthur’s father was employed as a groom.

Arthur enlisted at Aylesbury on 18th January 1915, joining 2/1st Buckinghamshire Battalion, in which he served as a private. According to the forms completed when he enlisted, Arthur was still living at Holly Hill and working as a farm labourer, was 19 years and 3 months old, was 5 feet 6 inches tall (although a form completed later on gives his height as 5 feet 8 ½ inches) and was of “good” physical development. He had hazel eyes and dark brown hair according to his eventual discharge documents.

At the time Arthur enlisted, 2/1st Bucks was stationed at Aylesbury. On 1st February 1915 the battalion arrived in Northampton before moving in early April to Chelmsford. Here it remained, apart from six weeks spent at Epping, until February 1916 when it moved to Salisbury Plain.

Arthur, along with the rest of 2/1st Bucks Battalion, which was part of 61st (Second South Midlands) Division, arrived in France in the early hours of 24th May 1916, having left England the previous evening. The battalion initially served in the area bounded by Aire in the west and Armentieres and Bethune in the east. On 19th July 2/1st Bucks, along with other units of the 61st Division and Australian units, was involved in the Battle Fromelles. Even before the men of the battalion left their positions at 6.00 p.m., a hundred had been killed or wounded by German shellfire. Once in No Man’s Land, the men came under sustained machine-gun fire and hardly any managed to reach the German trenches; of those who did, none are said to have returned. It soon became apparent that the attack had failed. Just over 240 officers and men from the battalion became casualties during the course of the day. In November 2/1st Bucks moved to the Somme area, serving north of Albert, then to the north of Abbeville and finally at various locations between Amiens and St. Quentin. In mid-May 1917 the battalion moved to the Arras area before, in late July, moving to the Ypres area.

Arthur remained with the battalion until 5th August 1917, when he was sent back to the United Kingdom, and was discharged from the army on 26th January 1918. Arthur had been diagnosed as suffering from “tuberals of [the] lung”, which rendered him unfit for further military services and was in need of sanatorium treatment. According to a form completed at the time of his discharge, Arthur’s condition was ‘[t]he result of and aggravated by service during the present war’ due to the ‘hardships and stress of active service in [the] trenches’. At the time of his discharge Arthur was stationed at a base in County Cork, Ireland. Arthur’s conduct during his military service is described as being ‘Very Good’. Following his discharge he was awarded Silver Badge number 308086.

Arthur died on 7th May 1919 aged 22. His body is buried in the churchyard of All Saints’ Church, Wing. The inscription on Arthur’s headstone reads: ‘Until the day breaks and we meet again’.