1918 - Arthur's war at a glance


January 1918
There are no surviving letters from Arthur for January, but from those written in February it’s possible to say that he was still in St. Luke’s War Hospital, Bradford. 

February 1918
Still in St. Luke’s War Hospital, Bradford, Arthur writes to say he hopes to be home in March. He refers to a “sugar ticket”, and as rationing of food was introduced in Britain in February 1918 (initially in London, then across the country), this is what he is commenting on.

March 1918
There are no letters from Arthur for March.

April 1918
Arthur’s letter of 27th April has had its address torn away – a clue that he is no longer at St. Luke’s War Hospital, Bradford. Perhaps his new address was removed for safe-keeping by his family. His letter of 23rd May is written from Fargo Military Hospital, Salisbury Plain, where he says he’s been for four weeks – in other words since late April.

The postscript to Arthur’s letter of 27th April says: "I am happy enough now I have got away from Belfast”. From this we can deduce that he has been over to Ireland, before returning to hospital in England.

May 1918
Arthur’s letter of  23rd May reveals he has been transferred from the Army Service Corps (ASC) to the 3rd Battalion Royal Irish Rifles (RIR). He is now 47306 Rifleman Arthur Horsnell. Formed in Belfast in August 1914, the 3rd Battalion RIR moved to England in April 1918, where it was based at Larkhill Camp, Salisbury Plain. 

Hospitalised throughout May, Arthur has harsh words to say about Fargo Military Hospital, Salisbury Plain: "I might tell you hospital they call this, it's more of a prison than anything else." 

At the end of May Arthur refers to "15,000 volunteers wanted for two months”. This is a reference to the War Office asking for 15,000 volunteers to defend the East Coast of Britain in the event of a German raid (13,224 men had come forward by 25th June). "For goodness sake tell Father never to make one of them as I no he likes enough to eat. If he gets in there he won’t,” jokes Arthur. And with that, his letters end.

March 1919
Rifleman Arthur Horsnell was demobilised on 25th March 1919, as recorded in his medal roll record.

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