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Noble, A., R.S.M., DCM & Bar, 1916

Newcastle lllustrated Chronicle March 1916

Medal Index Card

Newcastle Journal 21/03/1916

In Poperinghe New Military Cemetery is the Commonwealth War Grave of 12901 Sergeant Major Arthur Noble, D.C.M. & Bar, serving with the 10th Battalion Durham Light Infantry who died 12/02/1916.

Arthur Noble was born on the 25th September 1869 at Dundalk Co Louth, Ireland, to Thomas Noble [born 1830] and his wife Jane Crush [born 1831]. His father and his Grandfather Muns Noble had both served in the Military. Arthur attested on the 6th January 1888 into the DLI Volunteers, then the 1st Battalion Durham Light Infantry for 12 years and 7 years in the reserve. He was 5 feet 6 inches tall, Fair Hair with Blue eyes with the service number 3042, rank private.

The 1st Battalion Durham Light Infantry was in India at Meerut, where Arthur spent 2 years and two months stationed in India.

From 1899-1902, the 1st Battalion took part in the Relief of Ladysmith fighting at Colenso, Spion Kop and Vaal Krantz in the Boer War.

The 1st Battalion sailed on the Cephalonia, ship number 86205, on the 24th October 1899, arrived at the Cape about the 18th November, and was sent round to Durban. Along with the 2nd Scottish Rifles, 1st Rifle Brigade, and 3rd King's Royal Rifles, they formed the 4th Brigade under Major General N G Lyttelton. The work of the brigade has been sketched under the 2nd Scottish Rifles, and that of the Natal Army generally under the 2nd Queen's, Royal West Surrey.

At Colenso the battalion was not heavily engaged. After moving to Potgeiter's they took part in various demonstrations and feints, but it was not until 5th February, when called on to storm Vaal Krantz, that the Durhams knew what it was to be under a hail of shells and bullets. Their final charge that day was carried through in a way worthy of the battalion. The words of Sir Redvers Buller are, "The men would not be denied". Their losses were heavy: 2 officers and 12 men killed, 6 officers, including Colonel Fitzgerald, and 76 men wounded.

Six officers and 8 non-commissioned officers and men were mentioned by General Buller in his despatch of 8th February 1900 for good work at Vaal Krantz.

DCM awarded for Vaal Krantz 5-6 Feb 1900.
Event detail DCM Award, London Gazette number 27359 page 6318 published on the 27/09/1901 at Vaal Krantz. Gazetteer[2828: 2840-2935] a farm in Natal Colony (Klip River district; KwaZulu-Natal), 20 km south-west of Ladysmith. Variant: Vaalkrans (Afrikaans spelling also used on the 1: 250,000 map). The farm takes its name from a flat-topped hill on the north bank of the Thukela River to the east of which ran a road to Ladysmith. Following the failure of the action at Spion Kop on the 24th January 1900, General Sir R.H. Buller determined to attack Vaal Krantz, almost in the centre of the Boer defensive positions, following a demonstration against Brakfontein. On the 5th February, Maj-Gen A.S. Wynne's 11th infantry brigade left the bridgehead at Maconochie's Kopjes* covered by artillery fire as if to attack Brakfontein. In mid-morning, a pontoon bridge was completed across the river in less than an hour, but not until the afternoon did Maj-Gen the Hon N.G. Lyttleton's 4th infantry brigade cross by which time the Boers had assessed that this was the main point of attack and it became the focus of intense fire. Late in the afternoon Vaal Krantz was taken by the 1st The Durham Light Infantry and the 1st The Rifle Brigade (The Prince Consort's own) forcing the Johannesburg commando led by Cmdt B.J. Viljoen from the crest; the troops entrenched there for the night. During the night, Boer guns were relocated and considerable reinforcements brought in. Throughout the next day the Boers kept Vaal Krantz under constant rifle and shell fire and assaulted the hill twice. That evening Maj-Gen H.J.T. Hildyard's 2nd infantry brigade relieved the 4th infantry brigade. Throughout 7 February, the 2nd infantry brigade was subjected to rifle and shell fire and in the evening Buller ordered Vaal Krantz to be abandoned; it was evacuated that night.

In South Africa at Tugela Heights, when all of his officers were wounded, he led the men who were left and stormed the heights. For this action he was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal, D.C.M.. He was also given a clasp.

Arthur was promoted to a Colour Sergeant whilst in South Africa. After returning to the UK, he had spent 22 and a half years with the Durham Light Infantry mostly with the 1st Battalion. He became a Drill Instructor on the staff of the 8th Battalion Durham Light Infantry for the Beamish 'D' Company and 'K' Stanley Company, from 1902. [In 1908, the 1st April the companies were re-lettered, 'D' became 'E' and 'K' became 'F].

Arthur married Anne in 1908, who was born 1888 in South Wingate. They had three children, Arthur Richard Noble, born Pelaw in 1908, Thomas Noble, born 1910 and John Noble born February 1911. They were all residing at 11 Front Row, Grange Villa, Pelton, Co. Durham. Arthur by this time had retired from the Army after completing his time. Arthur claimed his Army pension from the Chelsea Board as an 'out' pensioner, from the 31st October 1909 after giving three months notice, which commenced payment from the 1st November of 36d per week.

He was employed by the Joicey's Handon Hold Busty Pit, West Pelton, as a Heap inspector.

He had also joined the Freemasons.
12901 W.0.CL.II A/RSM Arthur NOBLE DCM & Bar
Durham Light Infantry 10th (Service) Battalion
Residing at West Pelton he was initiated into 2929 Coronation Lodge 15th May 1907; Passed 25th October 1907 and Raised on the 15th January 1908 and was a Steward in the Lodge. He was the husband of Anne Noble residing at Grange Villa, Co Durham, and later at the Drill Hall, Durham.

He re-enlisted at Newcastle-on-Tyne at Fenham Barracks in August 1914 and eventually joined the 'Shiny Tenth', the 10th (Service) Battalion Durham Light Infantry, the first of the Kitchener raised Battalions of the Durham Light Infantry. He was promoted to Sergeant Major with a service number 12901. He was at Woking, Surrey, from the 22nd August a member of the first 500 men from the Depot to form the 10th (Service) Battalion Durham Light Infantry, to be commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel H.H.S Morant, who formerly commanded the 1st Battalion Durham Light Infantry.

Within 2 months of the beginning of the War, The Durhams had raised six Battalions, 10th , 11th, 12th, 13th, 14th and the 15th.

The 10th assembled at Woking under canvas with the 6th King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry, the 6th Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry and the 6th (Prince Albert's) Somerset Light Infantry all forming the 43rd Brigade of the 14th (Light) Division.

On the 23rd September the 10th marched to Aldershot in tents at Berkshire Copse. Then 23rd November move to an unfinished camp at Whitley. On the 21st February 1915, the battalion is now located at Corunna Barracks at Aldershot sharing with the 6th King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry.

Arthur with the Battalion left Aldershot, crossed from Folkestone to Boulogne on the 21st May 1915. On the 25th they are on a train to Cassel, then marched to billets at Volkerinckhve, eventually reaching Baileul on the 31st May.

Arthur was awarded a Bar to the DCM on the 31st July 1915 (London Gazette 14th January 1916) "For conspicuous courage and coolness at all times and particularly on one occasion in searching for the wounded under heavy fire. His devotion to duty was most marked"

The Battalion were asked to go forward south of the Menin Road to relieve the 41st Brigade who were losing heavily. The trenches were filled with killed and wounded who lay as they had fallen. Soon after midnight both British and Germans began a terrific bombardment. Shells tore into Zouave Wood, and the troops holding the front edge appeared to have retired. 'D' Company went forward as they were the Battalion reserve. At dawn, a terrible scene of slaughter was seen. The 10th Spent the day rescuing the wounded and trying to improve the line. Zouave Wood suffered from German Snipers.

On August the 9th the Battalion took over the battered line in the 'Y' Wood salient. The trenches so gallantly carried by the 2nd Durham Light Infantry earlier in the day were now occupied by neither the British nor German, but was a target for the artillery of both sides. Unfortunately some British heavy shells fell amongst the Battalion, killing some men.

He was wounded in the leg slightly by Shrapnel on the 21st August 1915 whilst at Ypres ramparts, where the battalion was located after being relieved.

He was killed in action on the 12th February 1916, aged 46, astride the Pilckem Road, where the German trench mortars concentrated upon them for four and half hours. 22 men including R.S.M. Arthur Noble were killed. He was buried in Poperinghe New Military Cemetery, Belgium. Grave Reference I.C.29.

Colonel Morant wrote He was beloved by all.

In his will he left effects of £357 0s 6d to his widow Anne Noble of 11 Front Street, Grange Villa, Durham.

Editorís Note: The Decorations he received - a Boer War DCM and a WW1 dated bar - are a very rare set of medals. He had a total of 4 Medals and 5 clasps, Distinguished Conduct Medal, with a clasp, The Queen's South African Medal with bars, Transvaal, Relief of Ladysmith, and Tegula Heights, the Kings South African Medal with the 1901 an 1902 bars and the long and Good conduct Medal.

Acknowledgements: The Rev. David Youngson

Arthur Noble is remembered in West Pelton on W112.01 at Stanley on S135.12 and in the D.L.I. Book of Remembrance page 25.

The CWGC entry for Sergeant Major Noble

If you know more about this person, please send the details to janet@newmp.org.uk