Arthur William Blake1

#45774, b. December 1884, d. 1 July 1916

Individual's Timeline

Birth RegDecember 1884Arthur William Blake1
Death1 July 1916Arthur William Blake2

Primary events

Secondary circumstances

  • Occupation: Arthur was a solicitor's clerk, and later a cashier for an asbestos manufacturer.

Census details

Some aspects of Arthur William Blake's life. Before they were to attack the German line at Thiepval on 1 July 1916 the men of the 16th Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers (Newcastle Commercials) were given this comforting message from their General:

You will be able to go over the top with a walking stick, you will not need rifles. When you get to Thiepval you will find the Germans all dead, not even a rat will have survived. (Quoted in Martin Middlebrook, The First Day on the Somme, London, 1977, p.97)

So confident were the British that artillery bombardment would have destroyed the German lines before the great attack! When the Newcastle men went ‘over the top’ at zero hour on 1 July they found to their cost that the Germans were not dead. The men of a Württemberg regiment were waiting for them and the six advancing waves of the 16th Northumberland Fusiliers and the 15th Lancashire Fusiliers (the ‘Salford Pals’) were cut to pieces by the enemy machine guns. None of them reached the German line. Any wounded survivors who moved in no–man’s–land were similarly dealt with. Mercifully, the commanding officers of both battalions stopped the last companies and told them to simply man their parapets.


The Battle of the Somme - On 1 July 1916, supported by a French attack to the south, thirteen divisions of Commonwealth forces launched an offensive on a line from north of Gommecourt to Maricourt. Despite a preliminary bombardment lasting seven days, the German defences were barely touched and the attack met unexpectedly fierce resistance. Losses were catastrophic and with only minimal advances on the southern flank, the initial attack was a failure. In the following weeks, huge resources of manpower and equipment were deployed in an attempt to exploit the modest successes of the first day. However, the German Army resisted tenaciously and repeated attacks and counter attacks meant a major battle for every village, copse and farmhouse gained. At the end of September, Thiepval was finally captured.


Military Career

Records show that Arthur William Blake served in the armed forces. He was a private in the 16th Battalian of the Northumberland Fusiliers.


  1. Free UK BDM index from 1837, online, Blake      Arthur William            Gateshead      10a     890.
  2. Website ( "UK, Soldiers Died in the Great War, 1914-1919 about Arthur William Blake
    Name:      Arthur William Blake
    Birth Place:      Gateshead-on-tyne
    Death Date:      1 Jul 1916
    Death Location:      France & Flanders
    Enlistment Location:      Newcastle-on-tyne
    Rank:      Private
    Regiment:      Northumberland Fusiliers
    Battalion:      16th Battalion
    Number:      16/18
    Type of Casualty:      Killed in action
    Theatre of War:      Western European Theatre."