Private Arthur Stenson died of wounds at the 19th Field Ambulance, serving with the 2nd Battalion Royal Welsh Fusiliers. The Commonwealth War Graves website gives his date of death as 9th December, although Soldiers Died in the Great War and Register of Soldiers’ Effects both record him as dying on 7th December.
Born in Birmingham in 1887, Arthur was living in Marston Green Cottage Homes by the 1891 census when he was three years old. He was still there ten years later, aged 14, and working as a bricklayer’s labourer’s boy. Cottage Homes were established in the 19th century to house children who would otherwise have gone into the workhouse. The intention was to keep children away from the adult inmates who could be bad influences. Many Cottage Homes educated the children, sometimes even better than they would have been outside the Homes, and taught them a trade so that they would be able to earn a living once they left.
By 1911, Arthur was a boarder at 58, Shaftsbury Street, Derby, working as a bricklayer and living with the family of Thomas Henry Healey. Thomas was listed as an invalid but having the trade of a waggon repairer on the railway. His 40-year-old wife, Florence Mary, was an office cleaner, and the couple had been married for 20 years and had three surviving children aged 9-19.
It looks as if 45-year-old Thomas died shortly after the census was taken and, two years’ later in 1913, his widow married Arthur Stenson at Derby Register Office. The Register of Soldiers’ Effects shows that Private Stenson’s will left everything to his widow, although no will seems to be listed for Arthur Stenson in the list of Soldiers’ Wills on the Government website, nor in the National Probate Calendar (index to wills) on the Ancestry website.
His medal index card shows he first entered a Theatre of War on 11th August 1914, just one week after war was declared. This suggests that he was a regular soldier at the time. The Long, Long, Trail website indicates that the Battalion landed in Rouen on 11th August 1914 as Lines of Communication troops, having previously been in Portland.
If you have any further information about Arthur Stenson or the Cottage Homes, please let us know.
Heritage & Local Studies Librarian
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