POWNALL, Arthur [of Nottingham]

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1st battalion Lincolshire Regiment

By John Pownall

Arthur Pownall of Nottingham

1st Battalion Lincolnshire Regiment (No 7415).

          Whilst compiling my family history, I discovered that my grandfather Samuel, had a younger brother called Arthur, who joined the British army. I had a lot of trouble tracing Arthur’s Census records - especially for 1891. As with many families who resided in central Nottingham, the conditions were not pleasant and people would struggle to reach any kind of old age. In Arthur’s case, when he was about 7 he lost his father, also named Arthur (aged 42). He also lost his mother Sarah (aged 30) a few years prior in 1885 when he was only about a year old. I do not know where Arthur lived or who looked after him during his childhood. However, he did have older sisters and could have been looked after by one of them. He is next shown on the 1901 Census aged 16, along with Brother Sam aged 21, as boarding with their eldest sister Emily who was married with her own family to a Mr Turner.

          My Father was called Charles. My aunt (my father’s sister) Evelyn said that Arthur and his brother Samuel would hardly speak about their childhoods. Evelyn and my father believed that they may have been brought up in an orphanage or even the work house system. My father said that Arthur and Samuel did not like it due to the beatings they had received. They told my father they had ran away but been sent back only to receive more beatings. They ran away again, and lived by their wits, often sleeping in hedge rows and finding scrap metal etc. to sell for money in order to obtain food. Evelyn told me that Arthur and Samuel could not read or write very well, but she said that they did understand the value of money!

          I believe that poverty, terrible living conditions plus losing his parents at a very young age would have been what encouraged him to look for a secure future. He probably felt that Army life could offer him, being a single man, the security he probably needed i.e. that he would be fully clothed and have three square meals a day, and a little adventure with pay!

          He is next recorded on the 1911 Census. According to the Census record, he is enlisted in the 1st battalion Lincolnshire regiment. So I looked for any Army service records and discovered that he had first enlisted in 1904, aged 18 years 4months - not during 1914 as I had first thought. One record documents his initial assessment, which stated that after 6 months service and completion of a gymnastics course, he physically improved by growing ½” (1.3mm) taller and grained 8lbs (4kg) in weight.

He served approximately 8 years in the army and then re-joined before WW1, meaning that in total he served approximately 12 years. I said earlier that he may have wished for a little bit of adventure, well, according to his service record it shows that he did! He certainly did see a little of the world. The 1911 Census was taken whilst his regiment were stationed in Aden, now known as Yemen in the Middle East. The British Army in those days would have been serving the interests of the British Empire.

When looking at documents on one of the well-known history sites, it is just about legible that he had been stationed in Gibraltar for about a year and was in the British Expeditionary Force, which was sent to France in the summer of 1914. His regiment was sent to the Belgian town of Mons (refer to “The Long Long Trail” site for details about battle of Mons). This was where the British Army first engaged the Germans and the fighting began. Due to the condition of the Army service records that remain (often referred to as the Burnt Records), it appears that he was taken prisoner of war. This was about the second day of fighting and he was wounded in action. His record also infers that he was transferred to a hospital believed to be in town of “Frameries”. This place was soon abandoned and taken over by the advancing German Army. It may be that sometime later he was placed in an “Internment” situation, away from a standard prison camp. Printed on his medical notes is the name of a town called “Leysin” which is in Switzerland. The documents state this happened about 3 years later. The hospital notes are in fragments but state he had problems with his lungs.

Another record clearly says that he later re-joined the colours in 1917, this time in the 3rd Battalion. Repatriated men who were declared unfit would not normally re-join and continue to take part in any fighting. However, it seems that some men were still allowed limited active service. It appears that the 3rd Battalion was a training unit based in England. This could mean that experienced soldiers might have been given training duties as they would be useful as mentors for the training of new recruits being prepared for active service at the front.

Arthur received the war medal and the king’s certificate.  On his service record, along with many thousands of soldiers, he was eventually discharged as “no longer physically fit” for more service. His occupation prior to enlistment on his Service record is stated as “Miner”. This may have been the old Pit in Radford because his home address is nearby in Hyson Green. I can only speculate about his employment after WW1. Apparently, he was entitled to a small pension from the army after the War. However, he may have helped his elder brother who had his own business on Hyson Green, Radford. Samuel was a well known “Marine Store Dealer” involved in the salvage of metals, old clothes and other items. This may be true because he lived at his brother’s house in Lenton Street for some time.

          At this time I have no photo of him from my family records or any official records, which on a personal note is a disappointment.

He was born 1884, died 1946. I and other family members do not believe that he ever married.


Notes; - documents state that he was entitled to the following,

          British War Medal, Victory Medal and the 1914 Star with Bar (issued between certain dates 1914, for seeing action under fire). Also the War Badge, with Kings Certificate.

 The facts in article were obtained by use of documents available on Ansetry.com, Find my past.com and The Long Long Trial web sites.

This page was added by John Pownall on 15/12/2014.
Comments about this page

Arthur Pownall

I recently noticed that Our Nottinghamshire site has an internal search facility. So I applied my surname to it and discovered that the search results listed the obviously connected articles; but I noticed that there was one new reference about the “Bulletins” being produced at the time. Reading through them, I found that they are based on the news and articles of the day written in the Newark Herald.

On was of particular interest to me. It concerned the news and effects of WW1 on Newark for the week 18 October 1915.

          The article explained the story nurse Edith Cavell who helps soldiers escape and return to their own country. She was eventually caught by the Germans and faced a firing squad, which caused a great deal of upset at the time.

          The article went on to promote the equally good work by the Mayoress of Newark and the ladies who helped her in her efforts to support British prisoners of war, by sending them items to help maintain their health and wellbeing.

          The bulletin stated that several soldiers were being helped and one turned out to be my Grand Fathers younger brother Arthur Pownall of the Lincolnshire Regiment. It stated that he would go on to be adopted by two elderly ladies from Winthorpe for the remainder of his incarceration.

          At first I did not understand why he would be “adopted” by those ladies.

          Well, I knew that Arthur’s eldest sister Emily Ada married a Mr Turner. The 1911 census states his sister was living in the Northgate area of Newark with her own family.

          I also know that Arthur enlisted as a regular soldier in the British Army in 1904. I suspect that over the years when on leave he probably lodged with his sister Emily. Indeed, on an earlier census he is stated lodging with the Turner family when he was around 16 years old.

          Therefore, my assumption is that he must have been known to people in the Northgate area of Newark, and maybe the adoption of him by the two elderly ladies would have been prompted by his sister living in the area. ”Adoption” in this context meant that they sent him care/aid parcels during his time as a P. O. W.

          On a sad note, approximately 3 years later in 1918 his sister suffered the loss of her only son Joseph Ernest Turner of the Leicestershire regiment. There is an individual reference about him in the Soldiers of the First World War section.

          One thing is certain, that without the internet and people such as Trevor Frecknall, I would never have discovered this piece of my family history.

          One additional thought, I hope that the work will carry on releasing Bulletins from the Newark Herald for all the respective years of WW1; this I guess will be no mean feat! This will allow people like me to gain valuable pieces of information about their family.

          I have read the book “Newark in the Great War” by Trevor Frecknall which I found must useful. I would also recommend to anybody who has already had articles published (especially those in the Newark area) to try out the Our Nottinghamshire site search facility. You just may find a snippet of information of interest there as well.

By John Pownall
On 29/04/2016

I am delighted Mr Pownall is finding the Great War Bulletins useful. My intention is to continue all the way to Armistice Day! 

By Trevor Frecknall
On 03/05/2016

          I recently discovered more about support supplied to British    P. O. W’s, during WW1. This was known then as ‘Comforts for troops’. These days we would probably call it ‘Food Parcels’.

 Arthur Pownall was a prisoner of war from August 1914. He was selected to be one of the first soldiers from Nottingham area to receive a parcel from the Nottingham ‘Comforts for Troops’ committee.

This help was initiated with the help of a Miss B. Whitby.

          Please refer to separate article, Miss B. Whitby – Comforts for troops’ on this Our Nottinghamshire site.


By John Pownall
On 01/08/2016

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