THORPE, Arthur John

No.5330, Private, Arthur John THORPE
Aged 23

8th Battalion, East Surrey Regiment
Killed in Action on Saturday, 1st July 1916

Arthur John Thorpe was born in Fakenham Magna (Thetford Q4-1893 4B:361), son of John Robert and Eliza Ann THORPE(née BERRY).

1901 census...Aged 7, he was at The Street, Fakenham Magna with his father John THORPE [38] farm labourer; his mother Eliza [37]; sisters Victoria [13] and Eliza [5]. All were born in Fakenham Magna.

1911 census...Aged 17, a farm labourer, he was at Great Fakenham with his parents and sister Eliza.

He enlisted in Bury St.Edmunds.
Amongst their other claims to fame, the 8th Battalion, East Surrey Regiment sought, and were given, permission to kick footballs as they went into action on 1st July 1916, so long as proper formation and distance was maintained. Capt Nevill kicked the first ball at 07:27and his two leading platoons moved forwards towards Breslau Trench, 400 yards away. Enemy machine guns on their left cut them down. Capt Nevill's body was later found just outside the enemy wire.
The battalion reached it's objective by 12:22 and dug in on the Mametz Road just west of Montauban. The cost was 139 killed, of which just 41 have identified graves, the rest being named on the Thiepval memorial

A comprehensive transcription of the war diary can be found here

The Bury Free Press of 29th July 1916 reported :-

Reproduced here is a photo of the late Prvt A.J.Thorpe, only son of Mr. and Mrs.J.Thorpe of Fakenham who was killed in action on 1st July. The late soldier enlisted in September 1914, in the East Surrey Regiment and was in France eleven months. He had seen much fighting, and was in every way a good soldier, never slow to do his duty, and always cheerful. He died as a hero, and is greatly missed by his many friends. Much sympathy is felt for the parents of the deceased soldier, who was in his 223rd years at the time of his death.

Arthur Thorpe is commemorated on the Thiepval memorial pier and face 6B/6C

click here to go to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website for full cemetery/memorial details