9098 Company Sergeant Major Arthur Haymes.

 

 

 

In early September 1914 as the men of Manchester answered Lord Derby’s call and began to swell the ranks of the newly formed Pals Battalions the shortage of  Officers and men to train them was a problem that needed urgently addressing.

 

As the Expeditionary Force embarked for Belgium, ex Officers and Soldiers were “dug out” of retirement to train the Men who, a few short weeks earlier had been civilians and possessed little or no Military experience.  

 

One such Man was Arthur Haymes.

 

Arthur was born in 1858 in Coventry to Francis and Mary Ann Haymes. In the 1891 census Arthur, by now Married to his wife Ellen, was, a Sergeant in the Rifle Brigade, and in 1901 Ellen was living at 72, Oxford Street Coventry with their children, Arthur, Florence, Margaret, Walter, Winifred, John and Nellie.

 

Arthur’s name does not appear on the 1901 census and one explanation is that he was away with his Regiment in South Africa.

 

On the 20th February 1902, Arthur’s son Arthur Francis joined the Royal Warwickshire Regiment at Warwick, signing on for 21 years.

At some stage before 1914, the family moved to 24, Walter Street Blackburn and in September 1914 aged 56; Arthur senior volunteered for service and was posted to the 17th Battalion the Manchester Regiment.

 

Arthur was appointed Company Sergeant Major of B Company and in the early days his experience as a seasoned veteran would have been crucial in instilling military pride and discipline in the men.

 

For the first 7 months, the Battalion trained in Heaton Park on the outskirts of the City and on the 24th April 1915, they moved to Belton Park near Grantham to form part of the 30th Division. The training was stepped up here and the pace became very demanding with lots of route marches, Company, Battalion and Brigade attacks, trench digging and musketry courses.

 

On the 7th September 1915, the 30th Division moved to Lark Hill on Salisbury Plain to complete its training.

 

Whilst at Lark Hill, Company Sergeant Major Haymes was admitted to the Military Hospital, Netheravon and on the 30th September 1915, died of heart failure aged 57 Years. Company Sergeant Major Haymes body was brought back to Blackburn and on the 5th October he was buried in Blackburn Cemetery.

 

Arthur’s son Arthur Junior had served with the Royal Warwickshire’s for 6 years and in 1908 transferred to the Norfolk Regiment where, in 1913 he was promoted, like his Father to Company Sergeant Major. On the outbreak of war, Arthur Junior deployed to France with the 1st Battalion the Norfolk Regiment and on the 8th September he was badly wounded and admitted to the 14th Field Ambulance with Gun shot wounds to his shoulder, arm and face and was sent to Number 3 General hospital at St Nazaire.

 

On the 11th December 1914, the medical officer at the base downgraded Sergeant Major Haymes and marked him for permanent base duties only. On the 22nd October 1915, Arthur was admitted to Number 12 Base Hospital at Rouen and on the 24th was evacuated to England aboard the Hospital ship Saint Andrew suffering from “Mental problems” and was discharged as “No longer physically fit for war service” on the 23rd February 1916.

 

Arthur had been mentioned twice in despatches on 19/10/1914 and 22/06/1915.

 

The nature of Arthur’s illness will never be known but it was severe enough for him to be admitted to the Eglington Asylum in Cork where, on the 17th December 1916 he died.

 

Arthur’s body was returned to Blackburn where, on the 22nd December he was buried with his father.

 

 

Many thanks to Kingo for writing this article, John Martin for the photo and cemetery research, tisgrannies and wendi for the
census searches and mack for additional info and his service record

 

 

return to 17th battalion history