Killed in action
Regiment: South Staffordshire/Leicestershire
Battalion: 1st Battalion
Service Number: 24386/27913
Date of Death: 14th May 1917
Age when killed: 37
Cemetery: Arras Memorial (Bay 6)
Born: Hoby 1880
Parents: John & Susan Felstead of Hoby
Arthur was born in Hoby in 1880, his parents were John and Susan Felstead and their cottage was located on what is now the pub car park. Arthur was the youngest of eight surviving children. In the 1911 census his occupation is listed as brick layer.
Arthur initially joined the Leicestershire Regiment with regimental number 27913 but at some point transferred to the 1st Battalion the South Staffordshire Regiment. He embarked for France in July 1916. On 10th May 1917 the Regiment’s commanding officer sent the following message to all ranks: In a few days you will be called on to capture Bullecourt. Owing to its great importance both to us and the enemy the village has already become historic and if we capture it we shall add undying glory to the Regiment’s proud record. I do not anticipate an easy victory but I am confident that you will smash the enemy’s resistance as you have done so many times before.
The Battalion suffered heavy losses during the battle of Bullecourt, which was part of the Arras offensive. Arthur was killed in action on 14th May 1917, six other soldiers were killed that day and fifteen were wounded.
On Friday 8th June 1917 this article appeared in the Melton Mowbray Times:
LOCAL SOLDIER KILLED:
Mr J Felstead of Hoby received an official notification on Saturday morning that his youngest son Pte Arthur Felstead of the South Staffordshire Rgt. was killed in action on May 14th. The news of his death had been previously conveyed to his sister Mrs H Sellars of Ab Kettleby, in a letter from the Chaplain of the regiment, who stated that the body had not then been recovered, but that they were hoping to have it brought in for burial. The deceased who was 37 years old was single. For a short period he was employed at the Holwell Iron Company’s furnaces and afterwards went to work for the late Colonel Cantrell-Hubbersty at Ragdale Hall. On April 12th last year he went up with his group and proceeded to France about the second week in July. Much sympathy will be expressed for the bereaved relatives.
We will never know if Arthur’s body was recovered. Since he is commemorated on the Arras Memorial in Faubourg-d’Amiens Cemetery it suggests it was not. This memorial commemorates almost 35,000 servicemen from the United Kingdom, South Africa and New Zealand who died in the Arras sector between the spring of 1916 and 7 August 1918 and who have no known grave. He was awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.
Arthur is also remembered on his parents’ headstone in the Church yard extension at Hoby.