The Friends of St. Peter's Berkhamsted

Friends of St Peter's, Great Berkhamsted

Chennells, Arthur John (1890 – 1915)


Arthur John Chennells
Private, 2nd Bedfordshire Regiment, Reg. No. 9299

In Dec 1914, Mr. and Mrs. Chennells reported that they “have four soldier sons, and three of these, wounded at the Front, are now in hospital.”[1]

Despite the fact that Arthur’s medals were forfeited because of desertion in Jan 1915, a later medal card reported that although he had deserted again on 6th October, Major E.D.P. Cambridge had applied for his medals on behalf of the mother on 24th March 1927. This included the 14-star, which indicates that Arthur had served at Mons.

Arthur’s death was reported under the headline “Mons Hero’s Terrible Death”:  A Westminster jury found that Arthur John Chennelle [sic], 24, of the Bedfordshire Regiment, met his death accidentally at Westminster Station on the District Railway. Deceased was wounded at Mons, and his mother, who lives at Great Berkhampstead, said that five weeks ago he wrote to her in another name. As she had six sons in the army, she did not know which one it was that had written to her, but she came to London and met Arthur. She thought he changed his name because he did not want to return to the front. He had been treated in Manchester Hospital, and had to return there for an operation.

Frederick Lee, valet to Mr Rutland Barrington, said that Arthur had staggered onto the platform, giving the impression that he was under the influence of drink. As a train moved out, he caught hold of the rail of a coach, but missed his footing and fell between two coaches, becoming fixed between the footboard and the platform. Thirty people tried unsuccessfully to lift the train and rescue him, and eventually the footboard had to be cut away.[2]

Arthur’s experiences at Mons had left him wounded and probably shell-shocked, which led to his desertion. The witness Frederick Lee at Westminster Station had observed a man in a dazed and disoriented state which may not have been the effects of alcohol. It was in this state that he met his untimely death.

Article written by Linda Rollitt and contained in the Berkhamsted Local History and Museum Society publication “Men of Berkhamsted: Lest We Forget” – ISBN 978-1-9998555-1-2

[1] Luton Times and Advertiser (4 Dec 1914)

[2] Western Daily Press (8 Oct 1915)

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