Born: 31st August 1896, 21, Turret Lane, Ipswich.
Died: 22nd January 1916; age: 19; KiA.
Enlistment Location: Ipswich.
Rank: Private; Service Number: 9423.
Regiment: Suffolk Regiment, 2nd Battalion.
Relatives Notified & Address: Nephew of Mrs L.A. Squirrell, of 19, Milton Street, Ipswich.
1901 Back of Albion Hill, Gothic Cottages, Woodbridge Road, Ipswich.
Arthur was 4 years old and living with his paternal grandparents & uncle.
Samuel Twaits, 79, a Shoe Maker – own account, born Belstead, Suffolk.
Ellen Twaits, 72, born Chelmondiston, Suffolk.
Edgar Twaits, 27, a Bricklayer’s Labourer, born Ipswich.
1911 19, Milton Street, St. John’s, Ipswich.
Arthur was 14 years old, a Blacksmith Striker – Smith’s Shop – Iron Foundry. He and his grandmother were living with his paternal aunt and cousins.
Lydia Squirrell, 49, born Ipswich.
Ernest Squirrell, 22, a Blacksmith Striker – Smith’s Shop – Iron Foundry, born Ipswich.
Frederick Squirrell, 14, an Errand Boy – Wine & Spirit, born Ipswich.
Stanley Squirrell, 11, born Ipswich.
Grace Squirrell, 8, born Ipswich.
Spencer Squirrell, 7, born Ipswich.
Lydia Ruby Squirrell, 4, born Ipswich.
Ellen Twaits, 82.
Arthur’s grandfather, Samuel Twaits, died 1906, Ipswich. His grandmother, Ellen Twaits, died 1915, Ipswich.
Arthur’s father was Joseph Harvey Twaits, born 1871, Ipswich – died 1899, Ipswich. A Builder’s Labourer.
Arthur’s mother was Catherine Maud Twaits (nee Smith), born 1876, Ipswich – died 1899, Ipswich.
Soldiers’ Effects to May J. & Jennie M. – sisters.
Suffolk Regiment, 2nd Battalion
The Suffolk Regiment diary noted:
“A terrific explosion occurred. The ground shook violently and an immense column of earth shot up in front of the Bluff carrying away the south-eastern face of it. The explosion was not followed by any bombardment or attack and for the moment no one realised what happened. Men in the trenches next to the canal were buried several feet deep; ammunition boxes were hurled hundreds of yards; and all the surrounding trenches upon which the Battalion had spent so much labour, as well as the systems of tunnels within the Bluff, collapsed completely.”
Dazed and confused, command was quickly regained. The War Diary noted that “the garrison of trench 28 immediately opened rapid fire” as the men awaited the counter attack they felt sure would come. Lieutenant Dix, finding none of his men had survived the explosion, took what men he could find and immediately manned the right hand lip of the crater against attack. They waited for the enemy, but thankfully, they nor their artillery came.
The official figures for killed wounded or missing that day will probably never be known. The official figure now, is 45 Suffolk men killed that day; all of whom were privates and NCOs. No officers of the Battalion are recorded as being killed that day.
The Battalion received a special commendation for their actions that night by the commander of 3rd Division; Major-General R. Haldane, who described their actions in a Divisional Memo which was typed out and pasted into the War Diary by the then Adjutant; Captain H.C.N. Trollope. It concluded: “The conduct of the Battalion under these trying circumstances , was excellent, all ranks behaving in a soldier-like manner, so that their position, which might easily have become serious, was never in danger.”
Of all the amazing incidents that occurred that night, perhaps the tale of No. 4142 Sgt Harry Bragg was probably the most courageous. The Regimental History modestly recorded his award of the DCM as being “for conspicuous gallantry” but the truth was far more amazing. Bragg and his men were manning the front line just yards from where the mine was detonated. Initially blown upwards, they were subsequently buried under almost four feet of earth. Bragg succeeded in digging his way out, then single handedly dug out four of his comrades; one of whom was wounded. They then manned the crater for the remainder of the day and what was describes as “hot fire.”