FITCHES, Joseph Arthur

No. 59357, Private, Joseph Arthur FITCHES
Aged 19

6th Battalion, Northamptonshire Regiment
Killed in Action on Sunday, 29th September 1918

Joseph Arthur Fitches was born in Higham in 1899(Newmarket Q3-1899 3B:500), son of Edward and Susanna FITCHES (née BARTON).

1901 census...Aged 1, he was at Middle Green, Higham with his father Edward FITCHES [43] chimney sweep, born Barrow; his mother Susanna [39] born Barrow; sisters Dora [19], Ella [13] and Ida [6] and brother Harry [10]. All the children were born in Higham.

1911 census...Aged 11, he was at 35 Middle Green, Higham with his parents, brother Harry (farm labourer), sister Helen [8] born Higham and sister Ella, now married to Fredrick COCKSEDGE [24] a carpenter born in Culford.

He married Lily SALE (b.7-5-1899) in Q1-1918, later of Barrow Green. They had one son, Bertrude Arthur Thomas FITCHES (30-4-1918-1987)

He enlisted in Ipswich.

Thanks to Stebie 9173 on the 1914-1918.invisioncom/forums, a summary of the war diary for that period reads:-
The 27th {September 1918} as far as the Sixth was concerned, was preparation day for this operation, and at 3.45 a.m. on the 28th the Battalion moved up and occupied the area West of Epehy, where upon arrival the rest of the day was spent resting, At 7.0 p.m. that night, the Battalion moved to the assembly positions prior to it's attack on the Hindenburg Line, these positions being - the valley near Enfer Wood, East of Ronnsoy Wood. At 4.0 a.m. on the 29th all Companies took up positions on the forming up line between Lempire Post and Tombois Farm, facing North-East. At 5.30 a.m. the Battalion advanced, behind the Americans, A and D Companies in the front line, with B Company in support, and C Company in reserve. Owing to a dense smoke Barrage, our Companies got mixed up with the Americans. The objective of the Sixth was Macquincourt Trench, and this was taken, but owing to lack of support on our right, A Company fell back and formed a defensive flank.
At 10.0 a.m. five of the eight Officers who were with the two Companies had become casualties, including B and D Company Commanders, therefore two Companies only were organised. These were, A and B Companies together, and C and D Companies likewise. At this point, a number of American stragglers came along and were attached to our two Companies. On account of the dense smoke and mist, the troops had not mopped up as thoroughly as they might, and the enemy was found to be holding Posts behind us on both flanks. On account of the heavy machine Gun fire coming from both these directions, A Company being the forward Company , was forced to abandon position and withdraw to Tombois Support. Orders were received from the Brigade at 1.0 p.m. on the 30th to push on to Canal Bank. A Company went forward in an effort to comply with this request, but were heavily fired on from the right flank by hostile machine Guns. In spite of this however, a Post was established, and the remainder of the Company formed a defensive flank in Hidden Trench, and Vendhuile Trench, C Company being in Jaeger Trench. At 7.30 p.m. further orders were received from Brigade Headquarters, to the effect that the Battalion would be relieved by the 2nd Bedfordshire Regiment, this order being later cancelled.

The Bury Free Press of 1st March 1919 reported:-

It is with regret we record the death of Prvt Arthur Fitches, Northants Regiment, youngest son of Mr.and Mrs. E Fitches, of Middle Green, Higham. Prvt Fitches was well known and held in warm regard by a wide circle of friends, Before joining the Army in 1918 he worked as a blacksmith in the employ of Mr, B.R.Whitmore, Station Works. He was sent overseas early in September 1918 and posted as missing on September 28th. Subsequently his wife received official news of his death.A memorial service was held in the parish church on Sunday, when many relatives and friends of the deceased were present.....

photo: Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Arthur Fitches is buried in Unicorn Cemetery,Vend'huile, grave 1:A:4

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