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Pumphrey, A., Capt., D.S.O., MiD., 1917

Photo: Bootham School With Thanks

Sunderland Echo Monday 02/07/1917

Sunderland Echo Wednesday 26/09/1917

Newcastle Journal Monday 02/07/1917

Tyne Cot Memorial

On the Tyne Cot Memorial is the name of Captain Arnold Pumphrey, serving in 'A' Company, 20th (Service) Battalion Durham Light Infantry, who died 21/09/1917.

Arnold was the youngest son, born on the 25th July 1891, at 3 Clifton Villas, of Thomas Edwin Pumphrey, J.P., [Wholesaler, Grocer and Provisions Merchant], and his wife Mary Anna (daughter of the late Joshua Wilson) at Mayfield, Thornhill Park, Sunderland. They had nine children.

Arnold was educated at the Strainongate School at Kendall, then at Bootham School, York, from 1904 to 1908. Arnold joined the school Football 2nd XI in the Spring Term 1907, by the Summer term 1908 he had taken Exams.

Extract from his School record reads:- "In Public Examinations we have taken the following places:- University of London School Leaving Examination, Matric Standard, 2nd Division J.C. Barron. P. Corder. F. Gibbins. A.M. Hughes. A. Pumphrey. M. Rowntree. S.J. Willis. W.M. Wilson".

By the Autumn term 1907, Arnold [Bunny] was a Reeve [similar to Prefect]. In the First XI football report of Autumn 1907 "Of the boys, Pumphrey was the best half, and Green the best full back".

The Bootham magazine of June 1908 has this to say:- "Arnold Pumphrey passed Matric, last Summer and joined the College Class in Autumn. He was a good right half back, and excelled in that position during the two terms that he played with the 1st XI. He was a Reeve; he leaves to study French on the Continent".

Arnold passed the University Extension Examination in Modern History with a distinction. June 1908, Bootham Magazine, His Football Captain had noted, "A strong tackler, and a reliable half back, who has often put in sterling work against odds; defending well and passing well. He seemed to plan his battle so that it was good to play in front of him.

Arnold continued to play football at Bootham, in the Old Boys Team.

Bootham magazine November 1913 reports;- "Arnold Pumphrey (1904-8) has passed the Solicitor's Final Examination of the Law Society".

He was going to be an articled Clerk to a solicitor, as he had just qualified on the outbreak of the War.

Arnold joined the 5th City of London London Rifle Brigade, as a private, on the 1st September 1914. He was gazetted a 2nd Lieutenant in the 20th Battalion Durham Light Infantry on the 7th October 1915. Then promoted to Lieutenant on the 15th January 1916. Finally promoted to Captain 1st April 1916. He served with the British Expeditionary Force from the 5th November 1914.

Arnold was wounded at Ploegsteert Wood on the 2nd December. In May 1915 he was gassed at Ypres and was invalided home.

He then was training at Bedford and Strensall and this was where he was promoted to Captain.

Arnold Pumphrey embarked with the 20th (Service) Battalion, Durham Light Infantry on the 4th May in three special trains from Farnborough for Southampton, strength 1023 all ranks. They boarded the S.S. Arundel, and arrived at Le Havre at 1 am on the 5th May 1916.

In October 1916, the school magazine reports that "Arnold Pumphrey has been slightly wounded in the July advance, and is able to return to his duties."

24th May 1917, Arnold was mentioned in despatches, along with Lieutenant-Colonel P. W. North, C. S. M. Walton, Sergeant Sykes and Private H. Reynolds.

"On the 19th July the officers were sent to Reninghelst to view a model of the ground over which the Battalion was to make its next attack, and on the 20th the 123rd Brigade paraded to do honour to Lieutenant-Colonel Wood-Martin of the 10th Battalion Royal West Kent Regiment, who was presented with the ribbon of the D.S.O., He was the only Commanding Officer left of those who originally went out with the 41st Division.

On the 21st the Battalion moved from Mont des Cats to Kendra Camp, preparatory to moving up again into action after three weeks rest.

News was received on the 27th July that the attack which was expected for 28th July had been postponed indefinitely. It was therefore decided that Companies should occupy in turn the strong points which had been occupied the day before in a ravine of Fusilier Wood. The two front companies were placed under command of Captain A. Pumphrey, D.S.O., as O.C. Front area, with his headquarters in the ravine. Later in the night, information being received that the enemy was vacating his front line opposite the 5th Army. 'B' [company] was also placed under Captain Pumphrey with two Vickers' guns, and two Stokes mortars, to occupy the enemy lines opposite if necessary. Patrols, however, reported that the enemy were not evacuating their lines. Casualties during the night amounted to 1 Killed and 13 wounded.

The 29th was spent by Captain Pumphrey, 2nd Lieutenant Shepherdson and Walton, in reconnoitring the assembly area for the coming battle, and on that night, whilst laying out string to mark the position of the tapes for lining up, they encountered an enemy patrol. The casualties for the day were 42 other ranks wounded.

The following day orders were received that Zero Hour was to be 3.50 am on the 31st July, and the Companies moved up to the assembly, sustaining casualties to the extent of 1 killed and 15 wounded. On the 31st July, before Zero, the Battalion was formed up in five waves on a two company front, each on a two platoon front. Battalion Headquarters formed the fifth wave. The first two waves were to assault the enemy front line, Imperfect Trench [Red Line]. This was successfully done in face of heavy shellfire and machine guns concealed in dug-out which the artillery had not destroyed. An advance was then made to the Blue Line, the second objective, and the Battalion dug in just in advance of it, being unable to go any further.

The Germans happened to choose this moment for a counter attack on the left of the line, and Captain Pumphrey went up and took over command, despatching 2nd Lieutenant Shepherdson to bring up two Companies of the 21st King's Royal Rifles who were in support.

These he placed in the gap between 'B' Company and the details of 'C' and 'D' Companies. The whole of the assembly area, captured ground, and No Man's Land, was by this time under heavy and continuous barrages of howitzer and field-gun fire, whilst No Man's Land and the captured ground was enfiladed on both flanks by machine-gun fire.

Captain Pumphrey called on the artillery for S.O.S through the visual station of the Royal West Kent Regiment, and the response of the artillery, with rifle and Lewis gun-fire from the Blue Line, and from a Vickers' gun which had succeeded in getting up to our left flank forward position, which smashed up the counter-attack.

For this action five Military Cross's were awarded, Captain H.F. Wilson, Captain E. Smith, Lieutenant T. M. Fletcher, 2nd Lieutenants J. G. R. Pacey and Sheperdson.

The 20th DLI War Diary for the 21st September:- At 7 am on the morning of the 21st the Battalion was ordered to attack the Green Line, and at about 9-8 am went over on two half company fronts. The barrage, which was supposd to come down at 9 am., consisted of a few shells at intervals, and was in consequence insufficient to keep down the enemy machine-guns.

The attack pushed out for about 200 yards, when it was held up by machine-gun fire, and forced to dig in, but not before we had suffered heavy casualties. About 3pm the enemy advanced over Tower Hamlets Ridge to counter-attack, but were driven back by our rifle and Lewis gun-fire, which inflicted heavy casualties. Three counter-attacks were attempted. At 4 pm the enemy barraged the forward slope of the ridge in rear of Basseville-Beek, and later put up a box barrage on our position. About 7-40pm., under cover of the barrage, he again assembled for a counter-attack, but was driven off by our artillery, Lewis gun and rifle fire.

Captain Arnold Pumphrey was shot through the head whilst leading his Company against a nest of machine-guns.

Arnold was killed at Tower Hamlets on the 21st September 1917, whilst leading his men after nearly 3 years in France and Flanders.

He was devoted to the regiment and very keen on his own men, who, in their own words worshipped the Captain while one under whom he served wrote of him and one of his friends who was killed about the same time : They in many ways were so much alike: never failed to do the right thing under the most trying conditions; brave as lions, with always the first thought for others; very gallant English gentleman

He was mentioned in Despatches by Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haig (London Gazette, 25th May 1917), for gallant and distinguished service in the field, and was also awarded the D.S.O. (London Gazette 2nd June 1917) for conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty in the field. Given to him by the King on the 30th June. Captain Pumphrey was a descendant of a long line of Quaker ancestry, one of his soldier ancestors having laid down his sword and turned Quaker in Cromwell's time. He was a keen sportsmen, yachting, fishing and riding, being his chief pastimes. He was unmarried.

Arnold Pumphrey was the younger brother of Hubert Pumphrey

Arnold Pumphrey is remembered at Sunderland S140.023, S140.041, S140.141 and in S140.048, Part 9 page 188, also in Durham D47.148b page 43, 46 and 53, and in D47.013c page 256.

There is an entry for him in the Cambridge Roll of Honour.

With many thanks to Bootham School Archives

Arnold Pumphrey is also remembered with his elder brother Humphrey on the Bootham School War Memorial, details about the unveiling of the School Memorial is also available

Bootham School
The CWGC entry for Captain Pumphrey

Bootham School magazine about Arnold Pumphrey

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