Arnison A.


10510 Private Archibald Arnison, 2nd Battalion, the Durham Light Infantry died of wounds 11 August 1915 and is buried at Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery near Poperinge, Belgium.[1]  He was 29 years old and is commemorated on the War Memorial in St. Mary’s Church, Staindrop.

 Family Details

Archibald was born c.1886 at Barnard Castle to Joseph and Elizabeth Arnison.  There were at least 6 children: [2]

  • Archibald bc.1886 at Barnard Castle
  • Ethel Annie bc.1887 at Bishop Auckland
  • Hilda bc.1892 at Bishop Auckland
  • Frank bc. 1897 at Bishop Auckland
  • Audrey bc.1899 at Bishop Auckland
  • Sidney bc.1899
  • Blanche Greta bc.1903
  • Norman bc. 1905

In 1901, the Arnison family lived at the Wheatsheaf PH, Staindrop where 40 year old Joseph was recorded as “an innkeeper”.  [3]

By 1911, the family lived at Winston Road, Staindrop.  Joseph was out of work, his wife Elizabeth and daughter Ethel Annie had no occupation, Archibald was a coal miner, Hilda was a dress maker and Frank was a butcher’s apprentice. [4]

By 1914 his parents had died, he was unmarried.  His brothers were:[5]

  • Frank aged 22
  • Sidney aged 20, address 9 Gurlish West, Coundon
  • Norman aged 16, 3 South Terrace, Staindrop

His sisters were:

  • Ethel Annie Storey, aged 31, 9 Gurlish West, Coundon
  • Hilda Binks, aged 26, 3 South Terrace, Staindrop
  • Blanche Greta Arnison, aged 17, 3 South Terrace, Staindrop

Ethel Annie Storey was recorded as his next of kin.

Archibald’s younger brother Frank served as a butcher in the A.S.C. (service no. S4/094474) 5 May 1915 and 29 September 1919.  [6]

Service Details

10 September 1914:  Archibald Arnison attested at Bishop Auckland aged 28 years old and joined the Durham Light Infantry being allocated the regimental number 10510.[7]  He was posted to the 2/DLI which was a battalion of the Regular Army.  Archibald stood 5’6½” tall and weighed 140lbs.[8]

2/DLI came under the orders of 18th Brigade, 6th Division:

  • 2nd Bn., the Durham Light Infantry
  • 1st Battalion, the West Yorkshire Regiment
  • 1st Battalion, the East Yorkshire Regiment
  • 11th (Service) Battalion, the Essex Regiment
  • 2nd Battalion, the Sherwood Foresters
  • 14th (Service) Battalion, the DLI
  • 1/16th (County of London) Battalion, the London Regiment

10 September 1914:  The 6th Division landed at St. Nazaire and proceeded to the Western Front where it remained throughout the war.  It arrived in time to reinforce the BEF on the Aisne before the whole army was moved north to Flanders.

The British Army was small and woefully under-gunned but increased French pressure led to it playing an increased role in offensive operations.  The actions of spring and summer 1915 included:

  • The Second Action at Givenchy:  15 – 16 June
  • The First  Attack on Bellewarde:  16 June
  • The Actions at Hooge:  2 June, 19 and 30 July and 9 August.

He was based at South Shields from 27 October 1914 until 29 June 1915 and entered France 30 June 1915.  He joined his battalion in the field 3 July 1915 therefore it is assumed that Private Archibald Arnison saw action at Hooge during July and then fatally 9 August.

 Action at Hooge: 9 August 1915

The 6th Division was involved in the August operations when a surprise attack regained all of the lost ground of previous months.  The 2/DLI was involved at Hooge and fought with distinction particularly 9 August 1915.

The following passage describes the action and pays tribute to the 2/DLI:[9]

“It was a day which the honours fell to the guns and the junior officers and men.  Where many units distinguished themselves it is perhaps invidious to single out one for special attention but it is impossible to record this episode in the epic of Hooge without emphasizing the part played by the magnificent battalion to whom fell the honour of assaulting the centre of the position about the crater across the Menin road, close to the ruins of the chateau.  The 50 yards which lay between them and the crater was on the rising ground and crossed and recrossed by shattered trenches of previous positions, ploughed into holes by shell-fire, encumbered with dead bodies as grisly reminders of earlier fights, sown with barbed wire entanglements and commanded by machine-gun fire from German strongholds.  Without the preliminary bombardment and the continued protection of the guns it was impossible that any man could have covered that journey and lived.  The battalion made sure of its ground in the dark before the moment came to charge by deliberately working its way to the very edge of its own protecting curtain of fire risking annihilation in the event of the slightest mistake of the part of our gunners.  Thus when the curtain was suddenly lifted the men were well within striking distance of the enemy’s positions and the rest for the time being was comparatively easy, thanks in no small measure to the battalion’s bombing parties, who accounted for most of the Germans still holding out.  It was while commanding these bombing parties that Temporary Second Lieutenant Kenneth Storey of the 2nd Durham Light Infantry – the awards for Hooge now permitting us to mention this gallant battalion by name – won the Military Cross.

“The success of our attack and the subsequent holding of the position,” it is therein acknowledged, “was largely due to the coolness and dash of the battalion bomb-throwers under Second Lieutenant Storey” who was wounded while directing his men.  In the long hours of endurance which followed when the Germans in revenge turned all their available guns on what was becoming little less than a shambles, these men from Durham, miners and the very salt of the earth in the hour of danger, held on in the face of fearful losses.  Twelve of their officers were killed or wounded before they were finally relieved.  It is recorded that when at nightfall the order was sent for them to withdraw, the advance section of the battalion did not receive it, some 200 men with 4 surviving officers, clinging throughout the night to the ridge between the crater and the stables, where the struggle raged as furiously as anywhere.  Nothing shows the spirit of this battalion than the simple official record of the conduct of Lieutenant Gerald Sopwith, one of the 4 officers of the 2nd Durham Light Infantry to be decorated with the Military Cross for this fine feat of arms:

 “Although blown several yards by a large shell, wounded in the shoulder and slightly in the leg, he refused to leave the firing line, taking command of his company when the commander had been badly wounded and another officer killed.  At a critical moment he left the trenches under heavy fire, rallied and led back some men who were retiring owing to a misunderstanding.  At 5a.m., August 10, he was again wounded and his jaw broken.  He had to lie down but continued to command and encourage his men till he was relieved.”

 Lieutenant Sopwith’s two other brother officers to receive the Military Cross for their coolness and fine example throughout this action were Second Lieutenant Leonard Scott Briggs and Second Lieutenant George Ivan Wiehe.

Of the D.C.M.’s awarded for this action seven at least fell to the share of the non-commissioned officers men of the same Durham Light Infantry.  The longest ordeal of all fell to Lance Corporal J. G. Smith, who was posted with a handful of men in the recaptured ruins of the stables on the extreme right of the line and could not be reached when at last the order came to withdraw.  By midday on the 10th all other troops in the vicinity had retired but Smith collected about 24 men and still held on under continuous bombardment until 7.30p.m., declining to yield, merely sending back, long after his party had been given up for lost, for more bombs and reinforcements and only withdrawing when other troops relieved him.  For their share of this heroic episode the D.C.M. was awarded not only to and Lance Corporal Smith but also Corporal J. Gott and Private R.D. Howse both of whom though receiving permission to withdraw, refused to quit their post of danger till relieved.  Other D.C.M.’s were won by Lance Corporal O. Manley, Serjeant J. Gibbens and Private H. Hirst, all of the same battalion, for various deeds of dogged courage in the course of the engagement, Company Serjeant Major C. Kent earning the rarer distinction of a clasp to the same medal won by him for conspicuous gallantry in an earlier action.”

9 August:  Private Archibald Arnison received multiple shell wounds and was treated by the 18th Field Ambulance before being admitted to the 10th Casualty Clearance Station at Hazelbouch

11 August: he died of wounds.

The 2/DLI War Diary records the casualties for 9 August:


  • Killed – Capt. A.H.M. Bowers, Capt. R.H. Leggard, 2/Lt. R. Gregg, 2/Lt. R.W. May, 2/Lt. J.D. Cartwright, 2/Lt. G.C. Holcroft
  • Wounded: Capt. R. Turner, Lt. G. Sopwith, 2/Lt. G.M. Garland, 2/Lt. K. Storey, 2/Lt. R.K. Robson, 2/Lt. M. Coverdale

Other Ranks:

  • Killed: 92
  • Wounded: 262 including Private Archibald Arnison
  • Missing: 100

Total Casualties: 466

The battalion had gone to the trenches with some 650 men.

Later research records that 2/DLI lost XX Officers and XX Other Ranks between 9 and 12 August, killed in action or died of wounds.[10]

Private A. Arnison was awarded the 1914-15 Star, the British War and Victory medals.[11]


 Private A. Arnison is buried at grave reference III.D.18A Lijssenhoek Military Cemetery.  During the war, the village of Lijssenthoek was situated on the main communication line between the Allied military bases in the rear and the Ypres battlefield.  Close to the front but out of the extreme range of most German field artillery, it became a natural place to establish casualty clearing stations.  The cemetery was first used by the French 15th Hospital D’Evacuation and in June 1915, it began to be used by casualty clearing stations of the Commonwealth forces.  The cemetery contains 9,901 Commonwealth burials of the First World War and 883 war graves of other nationalities.  It is the second largest Commonwealth cemetery in Belgium.[12]


Private A. Arnison is commemorated on the Staindrop War Memorial located in St. Mary’s Church.

The officers of 2/DLI commissioned a painting of this action at Hooge after the war, the only action of the whole conflict which they chose to remember in this way.  It hung in the Officers Mess until the battalion was disbanded in the 1950’s but a more significant annual event to ensure that Hooge remained in the battalion’s consciousness was the Hooge Day Parade every August.[13]

I am unaware of this tradition being maintained and wonder when it ceased?


[1] Commonwealth War Graves Commission

[2] 1901 & 1911 census

[3] 1901 census

[4] 1911 census

[5] Attestation Forms

[6] Attestation Forms

[7] Attestation Forms & Soldiers Died in the Great War

[8] Attestation Forms Medical History

[9] “The Great World War a History” Frank A. Mumby Vol.IV p. 86-89

[10] Officers & Soldiers Died in the Great War

[11] Medal Roll

[12] CWGC

[13] “Hooge” N. Cave