Born in 1894 at Woodford, son of Charles Thomas (L.C.C. Municipal Education Officer) and Jane Lilley. 1901: With his family at “Addington” Chelmsford Road, South Woodford. 1911: A Scholar still with his family at “Addington” in Chelmsford Road. He attended Bancroft’s School like his older brother Francis.
He enlisted in London, joining the London Rifle Brigade, a Battalion that took an annual subscription from its members. His brother followed him later on, but unlike Arthur, Francis would survive the horrors to come. Arthur would have been trained and probably posted by the time the Battalion took part in the Battle of Gommecourt, a very costly diversionary action on the first day of the Somme. Casualties were such that the Battalion required 616 replacements to bring them back to strength. By August 1917 the LRB had been moved from Arras into Belgium, and were located at the northern end of the Ypres Salient
It is likely that both boys saw action during the Battle of Langemark in August. There followed something of a lull, with just local engagements and ongoing attrition before the next major assault on Polygon Wood beginning on 26th September.
On 7th September 1917 the Battalion moved to the Falfemont Farm Line just to the south east of Leuze Wood. A minor bombing attack was conducted during the night of 8/9 September on Combles Trench, which was terminated when strong opposition was encountered. On 9th September the Battalion attacked the German trench lines again, but the action ground to a halt due to fierce German resistance, and large numbers of casualties were incurred among both officers and men. There followed very heavy German shelling of the whole British front line, causing numerous casualties. Leuze Wood was subjected to a particularly heavy bombardment.
At some point during the fighting of 9th September 1917, Arthur Lilley was Killed in Action.
Research by Adrian Lee, Local Historian
For more information on this individual please see The Old Bancroftian website.