Company Sergeant Major Arthur Haymes died of heart failure at the Military Hospital, Netheravon on 30 September 1915. He was a 57 year old Boer War veteran of the Rifle Brigade, with more than 22 years previous. Arthur’s body was returned to Lancashire and he was buried at Blackburn Cemetery on 5 October 1915.
CSM Haymes was the first of many losses for the Battalion. He as one of number of seasoned NCOs that came our retirement to help turn the civilian volunteers into a Battalion prepared for the Western Front.
Arthur was born in Coventry in 1858. He enlisted in the Rifle Brigade at Winchester, on 1st November 1875. He was given the number 305 and previously employed as a fitter and turner. He served with 1st and 2nd Battalions in England, Ireland and Gibraltar; promoted Corporal in August 1878, Acting Sergeant in September 1888, Sergeant in January 1889 and Colour Sergeant in 1893. Arthur was posted to the 20th (Artists Rifles) of the Middlesex Rifle Volunteers on 16 December 1895, until his discharge with a Pension on 19 March 1896. He received the Long Service and Good Conduct Medal.
Arthur re-enlisted in the Royal Rifle Brigade Reserve on 15 March 1900. He was posted to 2nd Battalion and served at Parkhurst Barracks in Hampshire. Arthur was promoted to Colour Sergeant on 13 June 1900 and discharged at the end of his engagement on 15 May 1901.
Arthur was working for Rudge Cycle manufacturers in Coventry when he re-enlisted in the Rifle Brigade Militia, number 6348, on 13 December 1901. He was 43 years 1 month old and married with six children, resident at 72 Oxford Street, Coventry. Arthur was 5’ 7 1/2” tall and weighed 150 lbs. He had scars on his neck and nose, with a bull fight tattoo on his chest.
Arthur was Embodied in 5th Battalion and promoted to Sergeant on the same day he enlisted. He embarked for South Africa, serving in the Boer War from 21 December 1901. Arthur received the Queens South Africa Medal with three Clasps for Cape Colony, Orange Free State and South Africa 1902 . Arthur was disembodied on his return to England on 3rd October 1902 and discharged from 5th Rifle Brigade on 18 August 1903.
In 1911 Arthur and his family lived at 79 Dickens Street, Blackburn when he was employed as a clerk messenger at the Board of Trade, Labour Exchange.
Based on the Regimental Number sequence Arthur had enlisted in the 17th Battalion Manchester Regiment in late November 1914. As an experienced Army Pensioner, Arthur’s services will have been welcomed for Battalion training at Heaton Park, Belton Park and Larkhill Camp, where he was serving, when he had a heart attack. Arthur had been promoted to CSM of B Company by April 1915.
Following Arthur’s death, his widow Ellen Haymes received an Army Pension of 17 Shillings per week. Her eldest son Arthur died of wounds in December 1916. He had been a CSM in the Norfolk Regiment.
While CSM Haymes is the first recorded commemoration with CWGC, he wasn’t the first death of a man from 17th Battalion.
Private 8484 Frederick Cunningham had been a warehouseman when he enlisted in 2nd City Bn on 03/09/1914. Discharged as no longer physically fit on 27/01/1915, Frederick died from disease on 28/04/1915, aged 27. There is no record to indicate if Pte Cunningham’s death was related to service and he is not commemorated by CWGC. He was the son of Robert Cunningham of 77 Manchester Old Road, Middleton. Commemorated at Holy Trinity Church, Middleton
Private 8424 Michael Birchall had been a Carter when he enlisted in 2nd City Battalion on 03/09/1914. He was discharged unfit on 14/10/1914 and died from a disease contracted after discharge on 21/09/1915. Husband of Margaret Birchall of 57 Mawson Street, Ardwick.
As Michael Birchall had died of a disease contracted after his discharge from the Army, he did not qualify for commemoration with CWGC.
Service & Pension Records