Sunday, November 8, 2020

For Remembrance Day, Honoring Lance Sgt Arthur Albert Slatter

My husband's 1c1r, Arthur Albert Slatter (1887-1917), was among the second generation of Slatters to choose military service as a career. 

Born in London, England, on July 2, 1887, he was the son of hubby's great uncle, Henry Arthur Slatter (1866-1942) and Alice Good Slatter (1864-1914). Great uncle Henry was a military bandmaster and not surprisingly, his son Arthur was musically inclined.  

With Remembrance Day approaching, I thought this post would be a straightforward bio of Arthur and his death while serving in World War I. To my surprise, there was more to the story, as I learned by digging deeper into his military service.

Serving with the Royal Fusiliers, 1902-1914

In 1902, supposedly at the age of 16 years and 11 months, Arthur enlisted for a dozen years of service in the Royal Fusiliers. He said he was a musician (see paperwork at right). 

In reality, Arthur was not yet 16, if his baptismal record and second record of military service are both correct--and I do believe them!

Thanks to Fold3 and Ancestry, I could read all pages of Arthur's paperwork documenting his initial time in the Royal Fusiliers. He trained as a stretcher bearer and ambulance driver, passed a swimming test, and qualified in chiropody (treating feet) at Parkhurst on the Isle of Wight. By 1913, he had been promoted to a corporal. This was one year before he was due to complete his 12 years of service.

From London to Vancouver, 1914-1915

In the ordinary course of events, Arthur would have gone on to the next stage of his life after earning a pension for a dozen years of service with the Royal Fusiliers. 

He was, in fact, honorably discharged on July 17, 1914, "on the termination of his first period of engagement." This was only a few weeks before the United Kingdom became embroiled in World War I. 

After leaving the Royal Fusiliers, Arthur journeyed to Vancouver, Canada, where his parents had moved in 1911. Arthur's father Henry was bandmaster of the 72d Seaforth Highlanders, and Arthur joined up as well. But tragedy struck on Christmas Day of 1914, when Arthur's mother Alice died at the age of 50. 

On May 20, 1915, after six months with the 72d, Arthur signed papers to serve with the Canadian Overseas Expeditionary Forces. He was single, in his late 20s, and he stated his occupation as "musician." (See excerpt above.)

The Plot Thickens

Upon enlisting, Arthur was made acting sergeant of the 11th Canadian Mounted Rifles and then promoted to provisional band sergeant by June, 1915 (see document directly above). By November of 1915, however, the red ink tells the story of an unexpected event: Arthur was discharged as a deserter, having apparently gone away in October of 1915. 

Yet Arthur somehow made it across the Atlantic and rejoined the Royal Fusiliers. That's clear from the index card at right. He was officially listed as wounded and missing in action in France as of May 20, 1917. At the time, he was serving in Company C of the 20th Battalion of the Royal Fusiliers. 

In addition, I found documentation that Arthur was awarded a Victory medal posthumously for WWI service in the 1st and 20th Battalions of the Royal Fusiliers. 

Somehow, Arthur unofficially left the Canadian forces and rejoined the Royal Fusiliers, but so far I haven't located the exact paperwork to indicate how he managed to do this in wartime.

Memorializing Arthur Albert Slatter and the Royal Fusiliers

More than 20,000 servicemen of the Royal Fusiliers, including Arthur Albert Slatter, lost their lives in World War I. The graceful Royal Fusiliers Memorial in London is a fitting way to honor their memories and service. 

Arthur's name isn't actually on the London memorial, but it is on the hauntingly stately Arras Memorial which serves to commemorate the passing of the many thousands of soldiers who died in the area during World War I.

Lance Sgt. Arthur Albert Slatter's name on the Arras Memorial has been transcribed and photographed on Find A Grave by volunteers. He has his own memorial page (shown at top of this post) that I've now linked to the memorials of his parents.

There is one more memorial to Arthur Albert Slatter: His parents, Henry and Alice, chose to add their son's name to their joint gravestone in Mountain View Cemetery, Vancouver, Canada. Arthur's name is not in the cemetery's database because he's not actually buried in Vancouver. But looking at the photo of Henry and Alice's gravestone, I noticed his name/date below theirs. 

When Henry Arthur Slatter died in 1942, his obit stated that his son Arthur Albert Slatter had been killed in action during World War I, a final bit of evidence that I am honoring the memory of the correct Slatter ancestor on my husband's family tree.

This is my Genealogy Blog Party post for November, 2020.


  1. how fascinating that he managed to leave one regiment & sign up with another. Do you know where they were both stationed at the time?

  2. His Canadian regiment had not yet left for Europe but the Royal Fusiliers were already fighting in Europe. I'm still researching this ancestor and hope to fill in more gaps very soon! Thanks for reading and commenting.

  3. What a fascinating post. I am amazed about how much you have been able to discover about Arthur's military service through your excellent research.

  4. It's quite amazing that earlier wars had so many young boys lie about their ages to join the service. I'm sure they wanted to be part of the excitement of war and battles, but many probably got way more than they bargained for.