No.18063, Private, Arthur DARKING
Aged 22

7th Battalion, Suffolk Regiment
Killed in Action on Monday, 3rd July 1916

Arthur Darking was born in Withersfield (Risbridge Q2-1894 4A:533) son of Frederick and Susan DARKING (née JACOBS).

1901 census...Aged 7, he was at Church Farm, Withersfield with his father Frederick DARKING [42] horse keeper; his mother Susan [41]; sisters Sarah [11], Elizabeth [9] and Ethel [4]; brother Charles [8 months]. All were born in Withersfield.

1911 census...Aged 17, a farm labourer, he was 'opp' Church Farm, Withersfield with his parents, sister Ethel and brother Charles.

He enlisted in Haverhill.
The 7th Suffolks missed the slaughter of the 1st day of the Somme, 1st July, being in Reserve and later moving up to the support trenches. Arriving in the support trenches at 38.30 am am they spent the day there and prepared to attack Ovillers at 3:15am on 3rd.
The War Diary :-
At 3:15 am the Battalion made a frontal attack on Ovillers on a frontage of 200 yards; the disposition of the Battalion was as follows:-"D" Coy on the right, "C" Coy on left, supported by "B" Coy on the right, "A" Coy on the left. On the right of the Battalion was the 5th Royal Berks and on the left the 37th Brigade, the 36th Brigade being in reserve. Two companies of the Essex Reg were in support to each Battalion, the Norfolks being in reserve.
Zero was at 3:15 am, ten minutes before zero the leading waves advanced under cover of the bombardment and at the hour of zero the Battalion assaulted in eight successive wave. The first 4 waves (D & C Coys) penetrated the the enemy's third line and portions of them into the village itself, but owing to the darkness touch was lost with succeeding waves and with the 5th Royal Berks on the right, so that the leading waves were not supported closely enough, thus allowing the Germans to get in between the waves and cut off the leading ones at the 3rd line of resistance, it was at the 3rd German line that the chief casualties occurred and the assault was brought to a standstill. The two companies of the Essex Regt moving up in support were too far behind and were practically annihilated by machine gun fire during their advance across the open. The casualties in the Battalion were 21 officers and 458 O.R. killed, wounded and missing, though some of these missing eventually regained the Battalion during the following night.

CWGC records show 155 of the Battalion killed, of which 110 have no known grave.

Arthur Darking is commemorated on the Thiepval memorial, pier and face 1C/2A

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

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