Arthur Beadsworth

Leicester Fosse & The First World War: Arthur Beadsworth

The eighth Leicester Fosse player to be killed in the First World War was Acting Colour Serjeant Arthur Beadsworth, who died on 9 October, 1917, having been injured, possibly by gas, at Ypres.
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A forward, Arthur played four games for Leicester Fosse in 1900/01. Two seasons later he played nine games for Manchester United, including a 1-1 draw against the Fosse at Filbert Street.

In 1906/07 he played 18 games, including one at Filbert Street, for bottom-of-the-table Burton United. One of his Burton team-mates was future Fosse player Bernard Vann, whose story will be told later on in this series.

Arthur also spent two seasons at Swindon Town, and a season each at Coventry and at New Brompton. In addition he played locally at various times for Leicester YMCA, Hinckley Town, Hinckley United and Nuneaton Town.

When the war broke out, Arthur, a shoe operative, lived with his wife Polly at 44 Derby Road in Hinckley.

We can piece together Arthur’s war record by drawing on sources from the National Archive, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, the Imperial War Museum and the local Record Office.

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Wimereux Cemetery
Wimereux Cemetery

Arthur is buried at the Wimereux Communal Cemetery near Boulogne, some distance from Ypres.

He served in the 7th Battalion of the Leicestershire Regiment, which was raised as part of Kitchener’s Second New Army. In April 1915, the Battalion became part of the 110th Brigade.

Arthur’s medal sheet, obtained from the National Archive, records that he went to France on 29 July, 1915.

On the 7 July, 1916, the 110th Brigade was transferred to the 21st Division which then saw action on the Somme battlefield.

The following year, the Division was involved in the German retreat to the Hindenburg Line, the Arras Offensive and the Third Battle of Ypres, (Passchendaele), which raged from 31 July, 1917 until 10 November, 1917.  

The precise circumstances of Arthur’s death on 9 October, 1917 at the Third Battle of Ypres aren’t totally clear but there are several clues and leads.

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Andy King at Victoria Park
Andy King at Victoria Park

Midfielder Andy King holds up an image of Arthur Beadsworth at Victoria Park in 2014.

Arthur is buried at the Wimereux Communal Cemetery (pictured) near Boulogne, some distance from Ypres.

The likelihood is that Arthur was transferred there badly wounded as Wimereux was an important hospital centre. Medical units used the cemetery to bury soldiers who died of their wounds.  

Paul Taylor’s research suggests that Arthur might have been gassed. The last significant action that the 7th Leicesters were involved in at Ypres in the days before Arthur’s death was the battle Battle of Broodseinde five days earlier.

Arthur’s headstone, along with all of the others in the cemetery, (including that of Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae, author of the famous poem, ‘In Flanders Fields’) lies flat on the ground. This is due to the sandy nature of the area.

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