Private, 40983, Depot, Royal Fusiliers (37th)
Died 29 January 1917 at Lewisham Hospital aged 40
Buried in St Mary's Hartfield Churchyard: Grave H 23

Lewisham Military Hospital

Private Arthur William Titcomb, 40983, Depot, Royal Fusiliers (37th) was born in South Marston, near Swindon, Wiltshire in 1877, the son of Ralph and Alice Titcomb. He enlisted in June 1916 and died from the effects of shell shock on 29 January 1917 at Lewisham Hospital, London, aged 40. He is buried in the churchyard of St Mary's, Hartfield, and is listed on the war memorial in Hartfield.

Arthur's father, Ralph, was listed in the 1871 census as a publican in South Marston, Wiltshire. By the 1881 census he was listed as a farmer aged 48 at Manor Farm in Woolstone, Berkshire and his mother, Alice, was listed as a farmer's wife. Arthur had eight siblings at that time. By 1901 his father had been widowed and was listed as a general labourer aged 67.

In 1911 Arthur's address was Furzedown, Kings Somborne, Hampshire and his occupation is listed as a groom. His pre-war occupation was coachman, and he was living at the Coach House, Bolebroke Castle, Hartfield.

It is believed that Arthur married Eliza Jane (née Kemm) Titcomb in 1910 and it appears that they moved to Hartfield between 1911 and 1916. They had the following children: Ernest Arthur Robert (1911-45), William J. (b.1912), Sydney R. (b.1913), Cecil J. (1916-1923), Margaret (b.1919). (It is likely that Margaret took her late father's surname although we are unsure of the identity of her father.) Eliza Jane was living at 30, Drew St., Rodbourne, Swindon, Wiltshire in 1917.

Arthur's first-born son, Ernest, served with the Royal Navy in the Second World War and was killed in January 1945 aged 34 while serving on HMS Searcher. He was buried in Glasgow, where his wife, Margaret, came from. He had been awarded the Distinguished Service Medal (DSM) and is commemorated on the Wroughton War Memorial in Wiltshire.

The birth of his fourth son, Cecil, was registered in East Grinstead in 1916. He died aged 7 in 1923 and his death was registered in Swindon, Wiltshire.

Arthur's sister Emily was listed as a widowed nurse, living in Swindon, in 1911. Her married name was Godwin. Emily and mother Alice were living with Emily's brother Ernest, who was listed as a general labourer aged 33 in 1911. His sister Sarah was a servant for a solicitor, Alfred Vacek, and his mother Caroline Vacek in Merton, south London in 1901. His younger sister Beatrice's husband, Sydney, also served in the First World War, having signed up as a Territorial in 1913.

Before enlisting in June 1916 Arthur worked as a coachman for Percival Ramsay Mann, who owned Bolebroke, near Hartfield, a castle that is a former hunting lodge of Henry VIII. Percival Mann (1882-1942), a member of the Mann brewery family, served in the First World War as a captain in the Royal Artillery, and was awarded the OBE for services in France in 1919.

Percival's son also served with the Royal Artillery in the Second World War. He died from a ruptured appendix in hospital on 7 January 1941 in Khartoum, Sudan, aged 21, and is buried in Khartoum War Cemetery: Grave 9. B. 7. He is also listed on the war memorial in Hartfield, and there is also a memorial plaque on the north wall of St Mary's Church, Hartfield in his memory.

Percival Mann had a cricket ground built at Bolebroke and occasionally fielded his own team which included a visit from his cousin F.J. Mann, the England and Middlesex cricketer.

The grave of Arthur William Titcomb in Hartfield churchyard

Carol O'Driscoll