31 August 2010

The descendants of Arthur Poulter VC have erected a new headstone over his burial spot in New Wortley Cemetery, Leeds, West Yorkshire.

In December 1956 Arthur Poulter's Victoria Cross and other medals were handed over to the Leeds City Museum on an indefinite loan. However, in June 1999 the Poulter family decided to donate the VC and campaign medals to the Duke of Wellington's Regiment Museum located in the Bankfield Museum in Halifax, Yorkshire, where they are still on display.

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Poulter's grave:
before and after

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On the 9th / 10th April 1918 the 1/4 West Riding Regiment ( Duke of Wellington's ) moved into the area at Erquinghem and were to cover a crossing of the River Lys to stem the German advance. On the 10th the Duke of Wellington's C Company assembled near the top of the Rue Delpierre while two officers and three NCOs went forward to reconnoitre. The ground was swept by machine-gun fire and one of the officers assumed the original objective could not be reached and decided that the line of a railway should be held instead.

He returned to his company in order to inform them of the change of plan. However, men were already being hit while waiting for their officers and losses mounted, the company stretcher-bearers becoming very hard pressed. Soon there were just not enough stretcher-bearers and helpers to cope with the high number of casualties and it was during this time that Arthur Poulter earned his Victoria Cross. He tended the wounded for hour after hour and also somehow got them to safety as well. In Arthur Poulter's own words:

Gradually all the stretcher-bearers in my company were killed or wounded and I was left to 'carry on'. How I got through the first day alone I do not know. It is a 'wonder' to me. The enemy artillery and rifle fire was directed at us from a range that could not have been much more than 50 to 100 yards, and each time I went out a hail of shrapnel was falling around, the artillery and machine-gun barrage was terrific. The first day I went out ten times to bring back some our our wounded and had to carry them a distance of 400 to 500 yards across a bridge over a river to where the RAMC men were. I carried them on my back, and two of them were hit again before I could get them to the rear.

For the award of the Victoria Cross

[ London Gazette, 28 June 1918 ]. Lys Erquinghem, France, 10 April 1918, Private Arthur Poulter, 4th Bn, Duke of Wellington's ( West Riding ) Regiment.

For most conspicuous bravery when acting as a stretcher-bearer ( Erquinghem, Lys, France ). On ten occasions Pte. Poulter carried badly wounded men on his back to a safer locality, through a particularly heavy artillery and machine-gun barrage. Two of these were hit a second time whilst on his back. Again, after a withdrawal over the river had been ordered, Pte. Poulter returned in full view of the enemy who were advancing, and carried back another man who had been left behind wounded.

He bandaged up over forty men under fire, and his conduct throughout the whole day was a magnificent example to all ranks. This very gallant soldier was subsequently seriously wounded when attempting another rescue in the face of the enemy.

Arthur Poulter was invested with his Victoria Cross by King George V at Buckingham Palace on the 13th December 1918.

Medal entitlement of Corporal Arthur Poulter VC - 4th Bn, Duke of Wellington's ( West Riding ) Regiment

  • Victoria Cross
  • British War Medal - ( 1914-20 )
  • Victory Medal - ( 1914-19 )
  • King George VI Coronation Medal 1937
  • Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Medal 1953


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Iain Stewart, 31 August 2010