Arthur Behrend – From Soldier to Author

Arthur Behrend – From Soldier to Author

Arthur served with the East Lancashire Regiment and later went on to write a number of books about his wartime experiences.

When war broke out Arthur was 18 years old. It is not known when he decided to enlisted. He served with the 1/4th Battalion of the East Lancashire Regiment. On 10th September 1914 this Battalion was part of the East Lancashire Division and left Southampton for Egypt. Arthur took photographs of his time abroad, including when his ‘C’ Company trekked to the pyramids; their barracks in Abbasia, training in the desert and the camp at Heliopolis.

By 26th May 1915 Arthur’s Battalion was now in the 126th Brigade part of the 42nd (East Lancashire) Division. At this time Arthur would have been in Gallipoli. Again he took photographs of the voyage to the Dardanelles and of the East Lancs landing at Gallipoli and Lemnos. While there Arthur also worked alongside Australian troops and saw Turkish prisoners of war.

Arthur kept a Field Message Book, which had a set of detailed instructions from the Army for the preparation of messages. This book had carbon paper to make copies of all letters and communications Arthur sent. One of Arthur’s duties would have been to write to mothers to inform them that their sons had been killed in action.

On 14th December 1915 The London Gazette, Issue 29402, recorded that Arthur reached the rank of Second Lieutenant.

Arthur then served with the 279th Siege Battery of the Royal Garrison Artillery. Siege Batteries were equipped with howitzers firing large calibre explosive shells, aimed at enemy artillery, stores and dumps. This siege battery was assigned to the 33rd Siege Brigade. At this point Arthur would have been in France, as the 278th saw action in the Ypres Salient around Kemmel and Arthur wrote about his experiences in Kemmel. While here Arthur was promoted to Captain.

At some point in his military career Arthur was transferred to the 90th Heavy Brigade of the Royal Garrison Artillery. While here be became an Adjutant (a staff officer who assists a commanding officer of the Garrison)

On 25th December 1918 Arthur no longer held the appointment of Adjutant (possibly because of demobilisation) and consequently he relinquished the acting rank of Captain. (The London Gazette 4 February 1919 Issue 31163).

It is not known if Arthur was wounded or injured at some stage as he returned to England and was declared medically unfit. He started to work on a book about his war service, however it soon became clear that the censor would not be able to pass some of the content.

Many years after the war Arthur rediscovered this manuscript wrapped up in a parcel. He began to think about publishing and wrote a number of books detailing his experiences, which were based on diary entries he kept at the time:

Nine Days: Adventures of a Heavy Artillery Brigade of the Third Army during the German Offensive of March 21-29 1918;

Make me a Soldier: A Platoon Commander in Gallipoli;

As From Kemmel Hill: An Adjutant in France and Flanders 1917 and 1918.

Some of Arthur’s photographs were used in the books as well as a number of maps and sketches he produced for illustration.

These books were very well received and were reviewed in a number of local and national newspapers and magazines from Cheshire life to the Times Literary Supplement. Many former soldiers from all over the country wrote to Arthur to congratulate him on his work; accurately describing events and experiences from the First World War. Some of the men became regular correspondents who in turn shared their own wartime experiences with Arthur. He also received letters from those who had never served and were fascinated to learn of his account.

Arthur was awarded the 1914-1915 Star, British War and Victory medals.

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