Sunday, 27 April 2014

4/8173 Private Arthur CONDRON (1897 – 1916)

I wrote in my last blog post about the first weeks of the Battle of the Somme. After the initial phase, the offensive evolved into a series of battles for prominent towns, woods and high grounds. Significant amongst these were the Battle of Delville Wood (14 July – 3 September 1916) and the Battle of Pozieres (23 July – 7 August 1916).

The Battle of Delville Wood, which involved an Allied offensive and German counter-offensive, was one of the last examples of close hand-to-hand infantry fighting on the Western Front. Casualties were high on both sides. Notable is the heroic action of the South African 1st Infantry Brigade, which suffered 80% casualties but held the wood. Amongst the British troops involved in the battle were the 3rd Division of the Fourth Army under General Rawlinson, including the West Yorkshire Regiment.

The Battle of Pozières involved the 1st Australian Division (Australian Imperial Force) as well as British troops. The fortified village of Pozières was captured by the Australian forces early in the battle, and the village was held against heavy German bombardment in the days that followed. The Australians lost as many men in the Battle of Pozières as in the whole of the Gallipoli campaign.

The Somme offensive was also notable for the first deployment of tanks on the battlefield by the British. Tanks were used in the battles of Flers-Courcelette, Morval and Thiepval Ridge.

The Battle of the Somme continued through September and October until the middle of November. Particularly in the latter stages of the battle, the Allied forces made what by then seemed significant advances. But overall, the gains by the Allies amounted to advancing the front line by a few miles. The total combined casualties on both sides in the battle, though still debated, undoubtedly amounted to more than one million men, including three hundred thousand killed. In human lives, it was one of the costliest battles in history.

Private Arthur CONDRON (service no. 4/8173) died on 18 August 1916 in the Battle of the Somme.

Arthur CONDRON was born in Leeds in 1897, the third child of Thomas and Mary Ann (née THAXTER) CONDRON. In the 1911 UK census, Arthur is recorded as a steam hammer driver and is living at home with his parents, brother and two sisters. Arthur enlisted in the West Yorkshire Regiment (“Prince of Wales’s Own”) in Leeds and, at the time of his death, was serving in its 12th Battalion.

Arthur’s father Thomas CONDRON was born in Aldershot in 1858: his birth is registered as Thomas CONDRAN in the registration district of Farnham in the second quarter of that year. In the 1871 census he is recorded as a valet in Portsea, near Portsmouth. In 1877 he enlisted for a 12-year term of duty in the British Army, at which time his occupation was recorded as seaman, and he served in India (1877-78, 1880-85, 1887-89), Afghanistan (1878-1880) and Burma (1885-87). Thomas was discharged from the army in 1889, and married Mary Ann THAXTER on 2 June 1890 at St. George’s church, Leeds. The couple had four children: Thomas Francis (born 1891), Elsie Margaret (1894), Arthur (1897) and Gladys (1901). All four children were baptised at Christchurch, Leeds. Thomas is recorded as an inspector of telegraph messages (1891), town postman (1911) and attendant (1920): he died in 1938, and Mary Ann died the following year.

Arthur’s grandfather was also a Thomas CONDRON, and according to Arthur’s parents' marriage certificate, Thomas CONDRON senior was a tailor.

Arthur CONDRON is memorialized on the Thiepval Memorial in northern France.

For other blog posts about CONDR*Ns in the First World War, click on "First World War" in the Labels list on the right of the blog web page. Comments and corrections welcome, either by leaving a comment below or by email to me: CONDRAN[AT]ONE-NAME.ORG

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