Private Arthur Binns M.M., 15th Battalion, Prince of Wales' Own West Yorkshire Regiment. (1st Battalion, Leeds Pals) Service no. 15/1137.
Arthur Binns was born in Oldfield, Oakworth in 1894. Parents Walter Atkinson Binns and Sarah Binns née Jones. In 1901 he was seven and living at 4, Oldfield which is close to the school, with his parents, brother Thomas and sister Emmie Eliza and brother Clifford aged just 11 months. His father Walter was a Filter works labourer. Arthur was educated at Keighley Boys Grammar School and the Sheffield Training College before becoming a teacher.
By 1911 Arthur was 17 and living at 16 and 18 Oldfield with his parents and siblings and they had been joined by Lily aged 7. Their father was still a waterworks labourer.
Arthur was a student teacher, most probably at Oldfield School and later he would teach at the Thurnscoe School at Barnsley.
Arthur enlisted with the 15th Battalion, West Yorkshire Regiment and went out to Colsterdale on July 11, 1915 and trained nearby at Breary Banks Camp as a member of the first battalion of 'Leeds Pals.' He went out to Egypt on December 6, 1915 and then to France on March 8, 1916. He took part in the first day of the Somme where a great many of his chums died. Arthur earned the Military Medal on May 3rd, 1917 for picking up a German grenade during a trench raids and casting it out of the trench, saving several lives.
15th Battalion West Yorkshire Regiment [1st Battalion, Leeds Pals] War diary extract:
May 24, 1917:
Pte. Arthur Binns advanced with his platoon to attack the German position East of Gavrelle. He gained the first objective where he established a bombing post. He repulsed a local counter attack, and drove the enemy down the trench with bombs.
The enemy afterwards fired a rifle grenade into the post which Pte Binns was holding. Pte Binns picked it up and threw it over the parapet, where it exploded without doing any damage. Pte Binns undoubtedly, by his courage and coolness saved his comrades from being killed or wounded.
Keighley News reports 23rd June 1917 page 3:
OAKWORTH – MILITARY MEDAL WINNER
Private A. Binns, of Oakworth, has been awarded the Military Medal for bravery on the field. He was a schoolteacher at Thurnscoe Council School before enlistment, and was educated at the Keighley Trade and Grammar School and the Sheffield Training College. He had served in Egypt before going to France, fifteen months ago. In his last letter home he says: "We have been into old Fritz's trench once again. It was pretty exciting at the time, but here we are still merry and bright and looking forward to the time when we can be civilised again. Now, I am sporting a little bit of ribbon above my left pocket, which signifies that I have been awarded the Military Medal. When we went over the lid, and got into the trenches one of those nice people, the Germans, threw a hand-grenade into the trench. I grabbed it and pitched it out before it exploded. It went off in the air, but did not hurt anybody. Of course, if I had left it alone it would have laid three or four of us out." Another brother (Thomas Wilkinson Binns) is serving at the front.
In March 1918 Arthur was one of over 500 men captured by the German forces during their spring offensive and he spent the rest of the war as a prisoner at camp no. 1952 Friedrichfield near Webel in Germany. This made him an 'Approved Demobilizer' or a 'Pivotal Man' for immediate release from the Army (under Army order 1 of 9th Nov 1918) He was released on November 15, 1918 and awarded his Military Medal on January 19 and demobilized to the Z Reserve on February 25, 1919. He was discharged from the Army on March 31, 1920 and awarded the 1914-15 Star, British War Medal and Victory Medal for his war service.
Aged 25, he married Alice Maud Annie Ingham at Christchurch in Oakworth on February 23, 1919 and their marriage was registered at Keighley. He was later Headmaster at Holycroft School.
Arthur's brother Thomas Wilkinson Binns also served with the Leeds Pals and survived the war. He was best man at Arthur's marriage to Alice Ingham:
Arthur died in 1956 at the age of 62, registered in the Worth Valley in the first quarter of the year.
Birth, marriage and death records.
1901 and 1911 census.
WWI Service Medal and Award Rolls, 1914-1920.
International Committee of the Red Cross - Prisoner of War records.
Keighley News archives, Keighley Library.
The Keighlian Magazine photo and extract- Personal archive of Andy Wade.
The National Archives - War Diaries - WO95- 361-3 - March 1916 to December 1917.
Photographs supplied by family.