14575 Lance Corporal Arthur Thomas Maunders, Bedfordshire Regiment, later 453242 Labour Corps
Born on 7th August 1894 in Ringshall
Died on 7th November 1968 in Ringshall
Arthur Thomas Maunders was born in Ringshall, Buckinghamshire, the youngest of the 4 children of Joseph Maunders and his third wife Sarah née Willmore. He was baptised at St Peter and St Paul’s Church, Little Gaddesden on 30th September 1894. His father was a Farm Herdsman.
His siblings were:
- Ethel, born 30th October 1888
- Maude Ellen, born 24th June 1890
- Sidney Ernest, born 11th October 1891
Arthur also had 4 half-brothers, sons of his father and his second wife Emma née Ward. Emma, aged 45, died at Ringshall in June 1887 and is buried in the old churchyard of St Peter and St Paul’s Church, Little Gaddesden.
- Walter James, born in 1875
- Joseph Benjamin Maunders, born 26th March 1877
- William Jesse Maunders, born 8th January 1880
- Alfred George, born in 1884
Arthur’s father’s first wife was Emma née Ing, who died aged 31 in June 1872. They had one daughter, Ellen, who was born in 1870 (1st Quarter) but died aged 1 year in July 1871. Both Ellen and Emma were buried at Edlesborough.
In the 1901 Census, Arthur and his family lived at 21 Ringshall. This was the same cottage that his family occupied in 1891 when it was designated 15 Ringshall Road. The 1901 Census shows Joseph, 61, Sarah, 54 and six of Joseph’s children living at home: Arthur, recorded as 7 but actually 6, was at School, as were his siblings Ethel, 12, Maud, 10 and Sidney, 9. William Maunders, 21, was a Bricklayer and Alfred, 16 a General Agricultural Labourer.
Arthur and his siblings attended Little Gaddesden School.
The School Log Book records that, on 8th June 1908 Albert Barlow, Arthur Maunders, Frederick Purton and Arthur Whitman received the results of their Standard 5 Labour Exam. If they passed that, they could leave school and go out to work before the age of 14. Albert Barlow and Arthur Whitman passed but Arthur Maunders and Frederick Purton did not. However, Arthur did not have to wait long. On 1st September that year, the Log Book recorded that Arthur Maunders had left school, being over 14 years.
The 1911 Census shows Arthur Thos. Manders, 16, born in Ringshall as a patient at the Hertfordshire Convalescent Home for Adults, St Leonard’s-on-Sea, Sussex. He was a Farm Labourer. By then his parents Joseph and Sarah and siblings Ethel, 22 and Sidney, 18, a Farm Labourer had moved to 18 Ringshall, the house which became Arthur’s family home in adult life. In 1914, his Army Service Record also notes that he was a Farm Labourer.
Arthur enlisted at Hertford on 3rd September 1914, to serve for the duration of the War. A 20 year old Labourer, he was 5 feet 8½ inches tall, weighed 142 lbs and had a 37 inch chest. He served initially as a Private, Service Number 14575.
He was one of 17 men on the Little Gaddesden Roll of Honour who volunteered for the Bedfordshire Regiment in the first month of the War. 12473 William Wells volunteered on 26th August followed by 12589 William Grant, 12591 George Cash and almost certainly 12593 Charles Batchelor on the 27th. 13330 Frank Dove R.I.P. and 13724 Horace Halsey then joined on or before 3rd September 1914 and a further 11 men attested on 3rd September. These were 13785 Edward Saunders, 14374 Harold Catt, 14452 Herbert Jacobs, 14532 John Mayling, 14553 Victor Collier, 14546 Frederick Purton R.I.P., 14557 Ernest Bearton, 14575 Arthur Maunders, 17221 Bertie Purton, 17231 Herbert Fenn and 3/8219 Jesse Holland.
The Fourth Battalion
Arthur, together with Harold Catt, Victor Collier, John Mayling and Edward Saunders, was first posted to the 4th Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment at Bedford. This was a Special Reserve Battalion and was moved to Felixstowe to provide home defence around Harwich. It also provided drafts of men for front line battalions and, on 1st May 1915, Arthur embarked for France to join the 2nd Battalion. His Service includes the note “To Front” dated 19th May 1915 – immediately after the Battle of Festubert, during which the 2nd Battalion had lost 2 officers killed, 6 officers wounded, 45 other ranks killed, 68 missing & approximately 200 wounded. The following month, the Battalion was involved in the Second Action at Givenchy and, on 25th September they fought at the Battle of Loos.
On 17th November 1915, Arthur was appointed Lance Corporal in the 2nd Battalion, though that only became a paid position on 1st July 1916, the first day of the Battle of the Somme.
The 2nd Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment was involved from the start of the Battle of the Somme on 1st July 1916.
On 11th July, they were to advance into Trones Wood. According to the Battalion Diary for that day:
The Battalion were in position by 1.30 a.m. formed up in lines of 1/2 Companies with an interval of five paces between the men, and a distance of 150 yards between … Orders had been received that the Battalion was to enter the wood at 3.27 a.m., so the leading line commenced to advance at 3.10 a.m. towards the South eastern edge of TRONES WOOD. It being almost dark, the advance was not observed until the leading line was 400 yards from the wood, when enemy Machine Guns opened fire…
The enemy quickly got their artillery to work and the Battalion suffered many casualties entering the WOOD, but by 3.45 a.m. the whole Battalion had gained the inside of the WOOD, but owing to Machine Gun and shell fire, had entered rather too much at the SOUTHERN END. Owing to the denseness of the undergrowth, it was not possible to see more than 4 yards in front of you, so the Companies had great difficulty in keeping touch…
It was found that the WOOD was strongly held and full of Trenches and Dug-outs… Great difficulty was experienced organising in the wood owing to heavy casualties and the denseness of the undergrowth but the Battalion managed to hold its own, and by 7 p.m. on evening of July 11th “A” & “B” Companies and “C” and 1/2 “D” Companies had dug themselves in on the S.E. side and S.W. side of the wood (all Companies much reduced by Casualties).
Wounded in Action 9
One of that day’s casualties of the Trones Wood advance was Arthur Maunders. He received a bomb wound, initially reported as a gunshot wound, to the right scapula area,
causing deep laceration of the tissues of the posterior fold of the right axilla extending to the angle the left scapula.
After a day at No 8 Stationary Hospital in Rouen, he was transferred to England for treatment at the 3rd Western General Hospital at Neath. He then spent six months in hospital from 13th July 1916 to 5th January 1917. There the wound was “drained for a considerable period and portions of clothing & metal removed.” On 14th March 1917 he was examined by No 4. Travelling Medical Board and categorised C2, which meant that he could walk 5 miles and see and hear for ordinary purposes and that he was suitable for home service. By 22nd July 1918 his medical category had improved to B2, so he was considered able “to stand on lines of communication in France or garrison duties in tropics”. On 5th March 1920 he was granted £70 gratuity in the light of his injury, which was deemed to have caused 10% disablement.
After his discharge from hospital, Arthur was posted to the 3rd Battalion, a reserve, home service battalion based at Felixstowe, where he remained until 31st October 1917.
On 1st November 1917, Arthur, a former farm labourer, transferred to 433 Agricultural Company of the Labour Corps, which was based at Bedford. He served as a Lance Corporal, Service Number 453242, until he was demobilised and transferred to Class Z Reserve on 27th March 1919. For his War Service, Arthur was awarded the 1914-15 Star, the British War Medal and the Allied Victory Medal.
Men who have answered their country’s call in defence of a “Scrap of Paper”
Arthur Maunders is named on the Roll of Honour, which hangs in St Peter & St Paul’s Church, Little Gaddesden and lists 119 men from Little Gaddesden, Ringshall and Hudnall who served in the 1914 – 1918 War. On the original Roll, his unit is given as 1st Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment. However, his Service Record includes no mention of that battalion, so on the Centenary Revision of the Roll, he is recorded in the 4th Battalion, i.e. the one in which he first served. His half-brothers Joseph Maunders and William Maunders are also named on both Rolls.
Rolls of Honour photos: Jane Dickson, Michael Carver
Returning to Ringshall 16
On demobilisation, Arthur returned to his parents’ address, 18 Ringshall, where his brother Sidney also lived. His mother Sarah died aged 70 on 24th March 1920 and his father Joseph, aged 80, on 3rd April 1922. His parents are buried in the old churchyard of St Peter and St Paul’s Church, Little Gaddesden.
On 8th November 1924, 30 year old Arthur Thomas Maunders of Ringshall married 39 year old Vera Rolfe of Little Gaddesden at St Peter and St Paul’s Church, Little Gaddesden. Arthur was a Painter and Vera was the daughter of Harry Rolph, Coachman. They then lived at 18 Ringshall.
Their son Arthur Maunders was born in April 1926 but died at 9 days old and was buried at St Peter and St Paul’s Church, Little Gaddesden on 26th April. Their daughter Betty Eileen Maunders was born on 27th June 1930 and baptised at St Peter and St Paul’s Church, Little Gaddesden on 17th August that year.
Geoff Rogers, a nephew of Ernest Rogers and Sidney Rogers, who was born in the early 1930s and grew up in Ringshall, remembered Arthur Maunders in an article about Everyday Village Services in “A Century Remembered”:
Mr Maunders was a painter and decorator. He lived at number 18 Ringshall. He had a motor bike and side-car. I can see him now with his ladders sticking out front and rear of the wooden side-car.
In the 1939 Register, Arthur is recorded as a Master Painter and Decorator. His wife Vera has “Unpaid Domestic Duties”, his brother Sidney is a Gardener and his widowed brother William Maunders, who had also moved into 18 Ringshall, a Bricklayer. 9 year old Betty was at school.
The family’s 1939 Register entry is not entirely accurate; all three of Arthur, Sidney and William Maunders have their Christian names reversed, so Arthur is recorded as Thomas A, Sidney as Ernest S and William as Jesse W. In addition, Sidney’s year of birth is recorded as 1892 rather than 1891 and William’s as 1879 rather than 1880.
In mid-May 1940, both Arthur and his brother Sidney volunteered for the Local Defence Volunteers, which later became the Home Guard. They are named on PC Parker’s original list of volunteers, which shows the group divided into four sections. They were both in No 1 Section, based in Ringshall. Men from Little Gaddesden, Ringshall, Hudnall and Great Gaddesden all served in No 5 Platoon, part of the Berkhamsted Company (No 7, later B Company) of the 7th Hertfordshire Battalion. Lance Corporal Arthur Maunders is named in Capt. Alan St H Brock’s book, “7th Hertfordshire Battalion Home Guard, a History of the Battalion 1940-44” and is included in the 1944 photograph shown below. He was still a member when the 7th Battalion was stood down on 3rd December 1944.
Little Gaddesden First World War veterans also identified on this photo are:
- Back Row, L to R: 4. John (Jack) Mayling; 5. Reginald Purton; 6. Don Goodman
- 3rd Row: L to R: 2. Harry Hucklesby
- 2nd Row: L to R: 1. 6. James Gray, Platoon Commander and father of Duncan Gray; 7. Horace Halsey; 8 Walter Bunn, 9. Joe Hing.
- Front Row: 12. Arthur Maunders
Other veterans known to have served in the Home Guard were: Albert Boarder, Sidney (Jubal) Jones, William Newman (father of Billy Newman), Edwin Purton, Frank Rogers and Edward Saunders. The Battalion’s Adjutant and Quartermaster in 1941 was William O’Kelly.
Younger members of the Home Guard, most of whom were subsequently called up for military service included: George Halsey, son of Horace Halsey; Leonard Hing son of Lewis Hing; Raymond Hing, son of Joe Hing; Fred Hucklesby, son of Harry Hucklesby; Fred Liberty, son of George Liberty; John Oakins son of Steve Oakins; Gordon and Maurice Purton, sons of Reginald Purton, and Arthur Whitman, son of James Whitman and named after his uncle Arthur Whitman.
Later Life 22
Arthur and Vera lived at 18 Ringshall for the rest of their lives. Arthur died aged 74 on 7th November 1968 and Vera, aged 89, on 13th February 1975. His brother Sidney also lived at 18 Ringshall until his death on 18th September 1972.
Postscript: Sister Maud’s War Service 23
Between 12th October 1917 and 26th November 1919, Arthur’s sister Maud Ellen Maunders served with the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps, later re-named Queen Mary’s Army Auxiliary Corps. She worked as an Army Baker in Dieppe and Boulogne and reached the ‘rank’ of Forewoman. Her War Certificate of Employment noted that Forewoman Maud Maunders had completed a “thorough course of Army Bakery” and had been an exemplary worker. In September 1919 she opted to extend her service in Q.M.A.A.C. and was willing to serve until 30th April 1920. However, her services were only required until late November 1919.
2. Little Gaddesden Baptism Register 1813 – 1947
5. Little Gaddesden Burial Register
8. Little Gaddesden School Log Books 1887 – 1906 and 1906 – 1934
17. Little Gaddesden Marriage Register 1913 and 1919
19. Leonhardt, John (ed), 2002, A Century Remembered – a celebration of the Millennium in Little Gaddesden, Rural Heritage Society of Little Gaddesden, Ringshall and Ashridge
20. Police Constable Parker’s list of Little Gaddesden’s Local Defence Force Volunteers, compiled in May 1940
21. ed. Brock, Capt. Alan St H, (1945?) 7th Hertfordshire Battalion Home Guard. A History of the Battalion 1940-44
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Research, text and (unless otherwise credited) photos: Jane Dickson