3 June 2009

Captain Arthur Prestwood, 1st Royal Scots Fusiliers

Medals held:
India Medal, 1st issue, plus three bars: Punjab Frontier 1897-98, Samana 1897, Tirah 1897-98; 1914 Star and bar, British War Medal and Victory Medal (Mentioned in Dispatches).

Arthur Prestwood was born in Shifnal Wellington, Shropshire on 24th February 1876. He joined the Royal Scots Fusiliers on 24th April 1894, his papers noting that he was 18 years and two months old and employed as an iron worker. He was given the number 4556.

Arthur's papers survive at the National Archives in London and therefore we have a pretty clear idea of his interesting military career with the Royal Scots Fusiliers. After enlisting, he remained in the UK with the 1st Battalion until 23rd September 1896. During this time he obtained his 3rd Class Certificate of Education (19th March 1896) and then his 2nd Class Certificate (22nd June 1896). Three months later, he sailed for India and would remain there until 8th March 1904, taking part in the campaigns on the Punjab Frontier (1897-98), Samana (1897) and Tirah (1897-98).

On 17th December 1898 Arthur was promoted to corporal and on 31st October 1900 he qualified as an assistant instructor in army signalling. The following year, on 11th May 1901, he was promoted to sergeant. It was whilst he was a sergeant and stationed at Allahabad, that he signed on to complete twelve years with the Colours. This was on 15th October 1902 and he was re-engaged at Allahabad on 17th November 1903.

He was back in the UK between 9th March 1904 and 14th February 1907 and then it was back to India again, this time for a shorter spell between 15th February 1907 and 10th January 1908. Returning to the UK that month, it would appear that Arthur had again extended his service as he was appointed Cook Sergeant on 2nd August 1908 and was passed by the School of Cookery at Aldershot on 19th April 1909. On 14th January 1910 he was promoted to the rank of Colour Sergeant.

It would appear that Arthur was then transferred to the Reserve,and on 15th August 1914, with the war against Germany less than a fortnight old, he was promoted to a commission with the 1st Royal Scots Fusiliers as 2nd Lieutenant. He arrived overseas on 15th September 1914.

On 3rd February 1915 he was promoted Lieutenant and it was whilst he was serving with the battalion that he received a severe gun-shot wound at Hooge on 16th June 1915. He returned to the UK on 4th July 1915 and after recuperating, was stationed with the 3rd Battalion at Fort Matilda in Greenock. On 22nd June 1915, The London Gazette noted that he had been Mentioned in Dispatches.

During his time with the 3rd Battalion, Arthur Prestwood held a number of appointments and he was promoted to captain on 1st January 1918. He retired on account of ill-health caused by wounds on 18th July 1921 but despite this, had a long life, dying at the age of 94 on 8th November 1970. There is a letter in his file dated 24th November 1970 in response to an enquiry from a Colonel C R Buchanan who was collecting information about Arthur's military career in order to write an obituary.

Arthur's papers also indicate that he originally recorded his next of kin as his father, James Prestwood, who was living at 34 Globe Buildings, Motherwell. Later however, Arthur marrried Louisa Bone, a spinster, the wedding taking place at St Mary's, Buriton, Hampshire on 27th January 1907. Henry Bone and Martha Robins were the witnesses on that day.

Arthur appears to have been a career soldier through and through, rising through the ranks from private to colour sergeant during a 16 year career and then serving for a further seven years as a commissioned officer from 1914. Apart from the addresses already noted, his medal index card at the National Archives also records an address at 83 Loughborough Park, Brixton, London SW9.

I've borrowed the image of the reverse of the India General Service Medal 1895 (showing the bars which Arthur Prestwood was entitled to) from Neate Medals in Suffolk.

India General Service Medal 1895: Casualty Roll

Definitive casualty roll of recipients of the medal arranged by clasp and by regiment. Seven clasps awarded: Defence of Chitral (1895), Relief of Chitral (1895), Punjab Frontier (1897-98), Malakand (1897), Samana (1897), Tirah (1897-98) and Waziristan (1901-02). Lists 2,400 officers and men. Re-published by the Naval & Military Press.

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