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Person Details
Kimberley Nottinghamshire
Samuel Arthur, known as Arthur, was the son of William Birkin and his first wife Phoebe (née Birkin). His father William was born in Greasley, Nottinghamshire, in about 1855, and his mother Phoebe, the daughter of William and Elizabeth Birkin, also in Greasley in 1855. William and Phoebe were married at Basford Register Office in 1877 and had at least six children one of whom died young: Lizzie b. 1878, Samuel Arthur (Arthur) b. 1880 bap. Eastwood St Mary 28 November 1880, Joseph b. 1881, Gertrude Ellen b. 1883, Fred b. 1885, Millicent b. 1887 and Francis James (Frank) birth registered 1890 (J/F/M) death registered 1893 (J/F/M). Phoebe Birkin died in 1893, a few months after the death of her youngest son, Francis. Her husband married secondly Emma Chambers (b. 1871) in 1899. They had two daughters, Alice Maud b. 1899 d. 1907 and Cassie May b. 1907. In 1901 William was the publican (own account) of the Coach and Horses, Nottingham Road, Newthorpe. Only his wife Emma, his youngest daughter, Millicent, and their daughter Alice were in the home on the night of the census. By 1911 William was a beerhouse keeper for a brewery company at Hill Top, Eastwood. He died in 1926. By 1901 William's other five surviving children by his first marriage had left home. Lizzie was living in Ilkeston, Derbyshire, with her husband, Ernest Millership (m. 1896), and their five children. Joseph (19) and Fred (16), both coal miners, were boarders in the household of another coal miner and his wife and children while Gertrude (17) was living with her married brother Arthur. Arthur married Elizabeth (Lizzie) Henshaw (b. 1876) in 1899 and they had five children: Frank b. 1900, William Edward b. 1902, Arthur b. 1904, Philip b. 1913 and Hilda b. 1914. In 1901 William, a coal miner hewer, and Lizzie, a dressmaker, were living at Lynn Croft, Greasley, with their first child, Frank (under one year). Also in the household was his sister Gertrude, a lace factory hand. By 1911 Arthur was the licensee (own account) of the Miners' Arms, Eastwood. He and Lizzie now had three children, Frank, William and Arthur. Their fourth son Philip was born two years later and their only daughter Hilda in 1914. Arthur and Lizzie were still at the Miners' Arms in December 1917 when their son Frank joined the Royal Marine Artillery. When Frank attested in the Royal Tank Corps (probably as a Territorial) in December 1920, two years after his father's death, he named his mother Lizzie of the Miners' Arms, Eastwood, as his next of kin. In 1939 when the England & Wales Register was compiled, Arthur's widow was living in Eastwood with their three youngest children, Arthur, Philip and Hilda, who were all in work. Lizzie probably died in 1946.
1901 Census - coal miner. 1911 Census - licensed victualler (own account). He was a former miner, trade unionist and local councillor. He left the pit in 1908 but returned on the outbreak of war. He was 'combed out' during the autumn of 1917 and arrived in France in the Spring of 1918. (Eastwood & Kimberley Advertiser 20/7/1918)
19 Jul 1918
38
64140 - CWGC Website
177074
The Miners' Arms Eastwood Nottinghamshire. Enlisted Eastwood.
Gunner
Royal Garrison Artillery
327th Siege Bty. Royal Garrison Artillery Arthur enlisted at Eastwood and was mobilised in autumn 1917. He qualified as a machine gunner. He served in France from early 1918 and was taken ill (cause unspecified in extant miltary records) while on active service and died on 19 July 1918 at No. 20 Casualty Clearing Station, Vignacourt. He was buried in Vignacourt British Cemetery, France (grave ref. IV A 4). He qualified for the British War Medal and Victory Medal. CWGC - History of Vignacourt British Cemetery (extract): 'When the German advance began in March 1918, Vignacourt was occupied by the 20th and 61st Casualty Clearing Stations. It also became a headquarters of Royal Air Force squadrons. The cemetery was begun in April and closed in August, and the burials reflect the desperate fighting of the Australian forces on the Amiens front.' (www.cwgc.org)
Arthur's eldest son Frank, a bank clerk, enlisted in the Royal Marine Artillery (K/216116) on 31 December 1917; he was deemed under age until his 18th birthday on 13 October 1918. He served until 18 November 1919 when he was discharged on compassionate grounds. He later attested in the Royal Tank Corps, probably as a Territorial, on 9 December 1920 aged 20 years 1 month, occupation clerk. The RTC record noted that Frank had served in the RMA for 1 year 323 days. CWGC headstone personal inscription: 'Not death but just a parting of the ways' Eastwood & Kimberley Advertiser, 20 July 1918, letter from the Matron to Arthur Birkin’s widow (extract): ‘The following letter written by the Matron on the 19th, and which came to hand on Tuesday furnishes the details of the sad occurrence: ‘Dear Mrs Birkin, I am writing to tell you about your husband’s death, as I know you will have had the War Office notice before this reaches you. This morning he was just about the same as when I wrote you yesterday, in fact he insisted in lying reading a magazine and said he was fine. I told him I had written you and he asked had I given you his love. I told him that I had, and he said, ‘Tell her I will write myself tomorrow.’ He was just the same till mid-day, then his heart gave way and he got frightfully breathless and restless, and then at the last was quite delirious. He died at 3.45, and, of course, he left no message as he was quite beyond it. He will be buried by our own chaplain in the Military Cemetery near here, where so many of our fine men are lying. With deepest sympathy in your great loss. Yours faithully (Miss) EO Schofield.’’ Eastwood & Kimberley Advertiser, 20 July 1918, letter from Arthur Birkin to his brother (extract): ‘’I have never had a complaining against me since I joined the Army. I have done my duty in everything that I have been told to do. I was only at the base two days. I have been in the thick of it all the time, and have had some horrible experiences, but of course that is as far as I am allowed to say. I have had to marvellous escapes, but am thankful to the Lord that I am still safe and sound. I never felt in better health in my life, but the awful longing that one has to see those he holds most dear is sometimes unbearable. I can’t describe it, but after all it is no use worrying; it can’t alter things, and everything comes to an end sometimes. We shall be lucky if the war is over by the end of the year. It wants finishing properly now, if it takes ten years. I forgot to mention that I am a machine gunner for our section of the RGA having had a course on the Lewis gun and passed first class.’’ Registers of Soldiers' Effects: his widow Lizzie was his legatee. She was awarded payments for herself and her children. WW1 Pension Ledgers Index Cards: recorded the names of his widow Lizzie and her children Arthur, Philip and Hilda. She would not have qualified for payments for her two eldest sons, Frank and William, who would have been over-age.
Remembered on

Photos

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  • Eastwood & Kimberley Advertiser 20 July 1918: letter from the Matron to Birkin's widow.
    Arthur Birkin - Eastwood & Kimberley Advertiser 20 July 1918: letter from the Matron to Birkin's widow.
  • Eastwood & Kimberley Advertiser, 20 July 1918: letter from Arthur Birkin to his brother.
    Arthur Birkin - Eastwood & Kimberley Advertiser, 20 July 1918: letter from Arthur Birkin to his brother.
  • Buried in Vignacourt British Cemetery. (www.cwgc.org)
    Arthur Birkin - Buried in Vignacourt British Cemetery. (www.cwgc.org)