Arthur NORCROSS
Rank: Captain
Number:
Unit: 4th Battalion EAST LANCASHIRE Regiment
Date of Death: 9 October 1917
Age: 24
Cemetery: Tyne Cot Memorial, Zonnebeke, Belgium

Arthur was born in the Heaton Chapel area on 30 December 1892.  Not long after this, the family moved to Darwen, Lancashire, where James Norcross worked as a banker's clerk. He originated from that area, having been born in Clitheroe. His wife, Annie, originated from Nottingham. At the time of the 1901 Census, they were living at 49 Sudell Road. The word "clerk" appears to underestimate James' role for his employer as he was successful enough to be able to afford to employ a live-in general servant (21 year old Edith Williams). A brother, Frank, was born whilst they were in Darwen

Arthur was educated at Darwen Secondary School and, later, at Manchester Grammar School (he appears in the School's entry in the Manchester City Battalions Book of Honour). In 1911, he was awarded a university scholarship from Lancashire County Council and he chose to attend Manchester University from where he graduated with a first class honours degree in mathematics. He had been a member of the University's Officer Training Corps and, as soon as he finished his studies, he immediately went to join the army.

He enlisted into the army, as a private, shortly after War was declared, as did Frank. It's not been possible to establish when he received his commission, but many young middle class men were quickly made officers. Arthur applied to become an officer within weeks of joining, submitting his application on 8 October 1914.  His papers show him, at five feet five inches, to have been a comparatively short man, even for those days. He will have been promoted from 2nd Lieutenant to Lieutenant and, on 1 June 1916, he was further promoted to the temporary rank of Captain (this was not officially confirmed until the edition of the London Gazette on 7 August 1917.)

At the beginning of August 1916, Mr & Mrs Norcross will have received a telegram telling them that Frank (then a 2nd Lieutenant with the 23rd Manchesters) had been posted as missing on 30 July. Just over a year later, another telegram would arrive telling them that Arthur was also missing.

It has proved difficult to establish what happened to Arthur. Official records show him assigned to the 4th Battalion, but there were actually two Battalions - the 1/4th and the 2/4th. It is possible that he was serving with the 1/4th, although it was not in action on 9 October. Similarly, he may have been temporarily posted to another unit. The 2/4th was supporting an attack on the 9th, but the Regimental History makes no mention of Arthur being killed. This is unusual as, at his rank, he would have been a company commander and his death would have been worthy of note.

Assuming he was with the 2/4th Battalion, they were assigned to be in support of the 2/5th Battalion which attacked towards the village of Passchendaele (the village which has given the common name to the Third Battle of Ypres).  As the men of the 2/5th left their trenches, they came under heavy machine gun and rifle fire and were shelled by German artillery. The attack stalled and, around midday, they had to dig in having made only some 500 yards of progress. The 2/4th was not called on to go into action until the following day, so it is likely that Arthur was killed by shellfire.

Arthur's service file records that he was originally listed as "wounded and missing" and it was not until 6 May 1918, that the War Office made an official presumption that he must have been killed. The bodies of Arthur and Frank were never recovered and identified and they are both commemorated on Memorials to the Missing.

In the early, 1920s, when the War Graves Commission was collating its casualty information, James and Annie had returned to the Stockport area and were living at 1 Lynton Road, Heaton Moor.

   
           
   
     
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