Arthur James Stiles
Born 12th March 1896 - Killed in Action 3rd August 1916

    Arthur James Stiles was the only son of James Burford and Helen Mary Stiles. He was the second youngest of eight children and the only boy with seven sisters. Arthur was born in Acton, Middlesex, and the family continued to live at the address of 8 Birkbeck Road, Acton, throughout his short life.
James Burford Stiles had come from a family of bakers and confectioners but was himself a merchant dealing in coal. At Bancrofts Arthur was a keen Scout and won a prize for his knowledge of the ambulance and first aid measures.

Arthur was of that age that saw his achievement of his eighteenth birthday a mere few moths before the outbreak of the Great War.

He promptly joined the Honourable Artillery Company a territorial regiment in the City of London popular with city workers and Old Bancroftians as a whole. He was promoted quickly in the HAC it being noted that he visited the old school in 1915 by which time he was a Sergeant. The Bancroftian recorded that:

"Our best wishes go with them and all O.B.’s who are ‘doing their bit’ in the present crisis."

On 26th January 1916 Arthur was further promoted securing his commission in the 8th Battalion Royal Fusiliers.

The 8th Battalion was one of the new volunteer battalions raised in late 1914 and early 1915. It was populated mainly by Londoners having its main areas of recruitment around east and central London.

The Somme battle of July 1916 took a heavy toll on the 8th battalion.

On the 7th July 1916, together with the 9th battalion the 8th had been deployed to take the village of Ovillers a few miles north east of the market town of Albert on the Somme. The regimental history records that few more costly actions took place in the Somme battle. The 8th battalion was on the right flank and sought to take the village by sweeping up from the direction of the old roman road that runs between Albert and Bapaume at this point. Walked today at a gentle pace this is perhaps a fifteen minute walk. The bombardment had begun at 4.30am and by midday they had taken the village at the cost of 23 officers killed or wounded and some 640 other ranks.

Arthur was called up to the line to help make good these losses. To the battalion’s right was the Pozieres ridge. A gentle eminence midway along the old roman road, it became of ‘crucial’ significance as an area of higher ground in the days that followed. On the night of 3rd August 1916 The 8th Battalion the 6th Buffs. Their objective was a section of German trench called by the allied armies ‘4th Avenue’ which was a trench north-west of Pozieres. As ever, first came the massive barrage and elements of the battalion advanced across the churned up ground slowly at first. Then 50 yards from the opposing trenches they broke into the charge. For once the Germans had been taken by surprise and by midnight the position was being consolidated with a number of prisoners taken. There had been only 150 or so casualties, However, Lieutenant Wardrop and Second Lieutenant Arthur James Stiles were killed in the attack.
His Commanding officer wrote to his parents:

In the confusion of attack constant shelling and churn of the surrounding ground over two more years of war Arthur’s body and its burial place was lost.

His loss is now commemorated on the THIEPVAL MEMORIAL.