ARTHUR WILLIAM ANNIS
7th Battalion, East Yorkshire Regiment.
Who died aged 34 on 24th July 1916
Buried in St Sever Cemetery, Rouen.
Arthur’s parents Rosetta and Samuel Annis ran a market garden on The Street in Bergh Apton. At the time of Arthur’s birth they were living in what is now Street Cottage (owned by Ann and Stanley Woods) but the main family home was at what is now Royston House on the corner of The Street and Threadneedle Street.
He was uncle to Peter Annis of Orchard View on The Street, being brother to Peter’s father James Rust Annis (who served with the Royal Flying Corps in WW1).
Arthur’s unit, 7th Battalion East Yorkshire Regiment was part of the BEF’s 17th (Northern) Division engaged in the Battle of the Somme. It was badly mauled in its first action at 2.30pm on 1st July when it launched an attack on Fricourt from Becordel on the Somme battlefield and suffered 118 casualties.
It was in action again towards Contalmaison on 6th and 7th July with 145 casualties and again on 10th July.
In this latter action the British, advancing in the area of a small copse known as Quadrangle Wood, came under heavy machine gun fire from Acid Copse to the south of Contalmaison. The Battalion war diary estimates that, before being relieved by the 7th Leicesters, it suffered 142 casualties here in this action.
At some time in these four days, and in one of these two attacks, it seems probable that Arthur Annis received the injury or wounds that caused his evacuation (the 160 kilometers) back to a Base Hospital in Rouen where he died, aged 34, on 24th July 1916. He is buried in St Sever Cemetery in Rouen, just to the south of the river Seine.
On Bergh Apton’s war memorial his forenames are recorded in error not as Arthur William but as Arthur James.
More Family information
In 1901 Arthur, then aged 19, was living as a boarder at 81, Anderton Street in Birmingham. He recorded his occupation on the Census Return of that year as a Skilled Turner. The Census reveals a case of language difficulty in that Arthur’s reply to the Census enumerator’s question “where were you born” to which the young Norfolk lad would have replied “Bergh Apton” in his good Norfolk pronunciation, was recorded by the (presumably “Brummie”) Enumerator as “Burge Hampton”.
The confusion led us a merry chase when we were trying to find Arthur on Ancestry.co.uk by entering his birthplace in the search engine!
By 1911 he had returned to Norfolk where, at the time of the Census, he was employed as an Attendant – one of the 37 staff – recorded in the Census at Heigham Hall, a private asylum. The asylum was owned and run by Dr John Gordon Gordon-Munn who, when he was Mayor of Norwich in 1914/15, raised three “Pals” battalion for the war, all attached to the Royal Engineers.