Gunner Arthur John Giles

Regiment:  Royal Field Artillery
Service no: 130363
Date and place of birth: 4 January 1897 at Petworth, Sussex
Date and place of death:  3 February 1917 in France

 Family background

Arthur John Giles was the son of Arthur John Giles and Annie Laura Giles.

In 1901 Arthur J Giles (37), fruit grower, was living in Bury, Sussex, with his wife Annie L (33) and son Arthur J (4).

In 1911 Arthur John (47), fruit grower on own account, and Annie Laura (42), were living with their son (also) Arthur John (14). The address was given as Bury, Pulborough, Sussex.

Arthur John was educated at Bury Elementary School before being admitted to Midhurst Grammar School on 3 May 1911. He left on 19 December the same year to join his father as a fruit grower.

Military service

Arthur John Giles was in the Royal Field Artillery, serving with the 78th Brigade in ‘A’ Battery.

At the end of the nineteenth century the Royal Artillery was divided into two: the Garrison and the Field Artillery. The RFA was further divided into three Batteries: Horse, Field and Mountain. The Field Batteries were numbered 1-103 and had their depot at Woolwich. ‘A’ Battery was commanded by a major with a captain as second in command.

The RFA provided artillery support for the British army. It was responsible for the medium calibre guns and howitzers. These batteries were mobile and deployed close to the front lines.

The 78th Brigade was placed under the command of 17th (Northern) Division and remained with them throughout the war. In January 1915 the three six-gun batteries were re-organised into four four-gun batteries: A,B,C and D.

Between 9 and 11 May 1916 there was a merger of various RFA Brigades to form the 17th Division Ammunition Column. On 20 May ‘A’ Battery left to join 80 Brigade and on 1 September their Unit size increased and Batteries ‘A’, ‘B’, and ‘C’ reverted to the six-gun battery format.

In early 1916 the 17th (Northern) Division relieved the 3rd Division in the Canal Sector and, at the time of the death of Arthur Giles, was providing enemy diversionary attacks around the Ypres Salient, known as The Bluff.

Between 19 December 1916 and noon on 17 February 1917, the operation had cost the British Army 1,294 casualties.

Arthur John Giles was awarded Victory and British medals.

Death and commemoration

The grave of Gunner Arthur John Giles at Grove Town Cemetery, Meaulte
The grave of Gunner Arthur John Giles at Grove Town Cemetery, Meaulte

Gunner Giles died of wounds on 3 February 1917.

Arthur John Giles is buried in Grove Town Cemetery, Meault, grave ref. 11.N.24. According to the Imperial War Graves Commission report the wording selected by his parents reads: ‘God bless our brave lad’.

He is listed on the Board in Midhurst Rother College.

The name John Giles is listed on the Bury War Memorial.

Subsequent family history

Arthur John Giles of Leghorn Cottage, Bury, Sussex died 24 March 1926. Probate was granted to Annie Laura Giles, widow.

Annie Laura of the same address, widow, died 28 February 1949. Probate was granted to Charles Turner garage proprietor and Geoffrey Campbell, solicitor.

Midhurst U3A WW1 War Memorial Project