Royal Field Artillery
3rd Devonshire/1096th Battery, 4th Wessex Brigade
Place of birth:
Date of death:
Cause of death:
Self inflicted wounds
Grave or panel reference:
Row K Grave 133
Name of father:
Name of siblings:
Alan Gerald Schofield
Name(s) of children:
Date of birth:
Place of enlistment:
Age at death:
Cemetery or memorial:
Simla Old Cemetery, India
Kirkee 1914-1918 Memorial, India; Barclays Bank Memorial and Books of Remembrance; Barclays Bank Pall Mall East Branch Memorial
Name of mother:
Mary Jane Schofield (née Standring)
Name of spouse:
20 Albany Road, Stroud Green
Arthur Bernard Schofield, known as Bernard, served for five years of an extended war, not on the Western Front, but far from home in northern India, and sadly did not live to return.
Bernard, born in 1887 in Hornsey, was the younger son of Alan Schofield, and his wife Mary Jane (née Standring). Both his parents were originally from Rochdale in Lancashire; his father worked in the textile trade in the north and continued once he moved to London. In 1911 he was a warehouseman for a company that manufactured linen buttons and also an ‘agent for foreign manufacturers of art flowers, foliage, fruit and berries’. Bernhard, like his older brother Alan Gerald, was a banker’s clerk, in his case at the Pall Mall East branch of Barclays Bank in central London.
The 1911 Census shows both sons in their twenties living in the family home at 20 Albany Road in Stroud Green. The Electoral Rolls for 1911 and 1912 also show that they were ‘Lodgers’, sharing a furnished top-floor room at the front of the house and each paying rent of 7s 6d per week to the landlord, their father. Alan married in 1913 and left home; Bernard then paid 5s per week. The records of Barclays Bank give Bernard’s salary as £140 per annum, and while he was away at war the bank paid the difference between that and his Army pay, a sum of £117 19s per annum.
Very early in the First World War Bernard was mobilised in the Royal Field Artillery (RFA) Territorial Force. The RFA was the most numerous arm of the artillery, responsible for the medium-calibre guns and howitzers deployed close to the front line. Bernard began as a Gunner (equivalent of Private) and was promoted through Corporal to Sergeant. From a Barclays list of employees on active service in 1917, we know he was in the 3rd Devonshire Battery, which was part of the 4th Wessex Brigade of the RFA. This was one of the three field gun brigades of the 43rd (Wessex) Division and was initially armed with the 15-pounder BLC field gun.
In September 1914, the British Government agreed to send troops to India to replace a significant number of British and Indian regular army battalions who were needed to fight in Europe. The Wessex Division was among those chosen to go. Bernard would have embarked at Southampton on 9 October 1914 and disembarked at Mumbai (then Bombay) on 9 November. His battery was sent to Barrackpore in West Bengal, near Kolkata (then Calcutta).
As the war progressed, elements of the Wessex Division were sent to fight in Mesopotamia or Aden, but Bernard’s brigade (renumbered as 218th) and his battery (renumbered as 1096th) remained in India throughout the war. For four long years, thousands of miles from home, they performed mundane garrison duties: for example as guards and escorts, and, in Bernard’s case, as a clerk in the Quarter Master General’s Branch. When the war ended in Europe in November 1918, the men must have been eager for demobilisation and a return to their families. It is said some were disaffected.
However, November 1918 was not the end of the war for Bernard and his battery, but almost the opposite as they saw action for the first time. On 6 May 1919 the Emirate of Afghanistan, to the north, invaded British India and thus began the Third Afghan War (also known as the British-Afghan War of 1919 and in Afghanistan as the War of Independence). It was a hard-fought campaign ending with an armistice on 8 August, when the Afghans won back control of foreign affairs from Britain, and the British recognised Afghanistan as an independent nation. Bernard’s battery took part in the war as part of 46th Mobile Indian Brigade, but there are no records of his own part.
In July 1919 Bernard was at Shimla, the ‘summer capital’ of the British in India and the Army’s General Headquarters, where he was initiated as a Freemason in the Himalayan Brotherhood Lodge on 14 July. However, he died less than two months later, on 23 September 1919, ‘of wounds, self-inflicted’. Some records show a different date, 17 July 1919, but it has been confirmed by the Ministry of Defence that they are in error. There are no details of Bernard’s death. At the time, it was a serious military offence for a soldier to be found guilty of ‘wilfully maiming himself with intent to render himself unfit for service’.
Bernard’s father died in 1917, while he was serving in India. By 1921 his mother had moved to Woodside Park, but was still a member at New Court Congregational Chapel. Bernard’s brother Alan served as a Private in the Royal Fusiliers (London Regiment) and after the war lived in Finchley with his wife, Dilys.
Bernard is one of just 25 soldiers buried in Shimla Old Cemetery. He is commemorated on the Kirkee 1914-1918 Memorial, at Kirkee near Poona. This memorial was built to commemorate more than 1,800 servicemen and women who died during the First World War, buried in civil and cantonment cemeteries in India and Pakistan, whose graves were considered to be unmaintainable after India gained its independence in 1947. Bernard is also commemorated by Barclays Bank in its Memorial Books and on the stone tablets accompanying them at its headquarters at Canary Wharf in London.
Also see Norman Edwin Heaven.