Arnold Watson Coultas
Lance Corporal 9th Battalion Yorkshire Regiment (The Green Howards)
Military Service Number 12891
Born March 1894 in Scalby, Scarborough
Killed in Action 5 July 1916
Arnold was the son of George Coultas, Scalby Postman, and Lucy Watson. His grandfather William had been Postmaster, living in Scalby Post Office on South Street, next to the Nag’s Head. Arnold had two brothers, one of whom, Reginald, was killed in action on 9 October 1917 at Passchendaele. Younger brother George Ronald, known as Ronald, enlisted into the York and Lancaster Regiment and landed in France two days after him. They also had a sister, Joan, who died in Scarborough in 1993 aged 86. In the 1911 Census Arnold is described as ‘A Draper’s Apprentice’. George, Lucy, Arnold and Joan were living in Slingsby, near Hovingham, where George was a Postman. Arnold had two cousins, George and Ernest Watson, who were also killed in action in 1916, Ernest also on The Somme, 5 days after Arnold.
Arnold’s Medal Index Card reveals that he entered France as part of the British Expeditionary Force on 26 August 1915.
On Friday 16 June the Scarborough Mercury reports, On Tuesday L/Cpl Arnold Coultas arrived from the front for a well earned leave after ten months’ service. He is in 9th Yorks, and has been in a sector which has been the scene of violent fighting. The young solder looks well, and expresses himself optimistically. A brother, Reginald Coultas, 5th Yorks and Lancs was wounded some time ago and a second brother, Ronald Coultas, 9th Yorks and Lancs is in the trenches.
On 5 July 1916 at 4am bombers of 9th Green Howards, who were to the right of where Scalby’s Lt. Col. Charles Sillery and many of his men of the Tyneside Scottish had fallen 4 days earlier, attacked towards Contalmaison. Fighting was continuous in Horseshoe Trench until 10am when the enemy made a strong counter-attack, winning back much of the gained ground. The enemy attacked again in the afternoon, causing most of III Corps, 69 Brigade to be involved in the fighting, but at 6pm 9th Green Howards, together with 10th Duke of Wellington’s, cleared both Horseshoe Trench and the west end of Lincoln Redoubt in an attack over the open. It was sometime during this attack that Arnold Coultas lost his life.
Arnold’s will, made in the back of his pocket-book, says, “In the event of my death I give the whole of my property and effects to my mother, Lucy Coultas, Hovingham Spa, Malton, Yorks.
Signed 12891 Lce Cpl Coultas A, “C” Coy. 9th Yorkshire Regt. Aug. 24 1915.
The Scarborough Mercury of Friday 14 July 1916 reports the loss of both Lt Col. Charles Sillery and L/Cpl Arnold Coutlas: Scalby Losses. Arnold Coultas, son of the late Mr Geo Coultas, formerly postmaster at Scalby, has been killed. He enlisted along with his two brothers. The news was received on Tuesday in a letter from a companion. Prior to enlistment he was in the employment of Messrs. W. M. Wright and Son, Newborough, Scarborough. He was killed in action. It is only about three weeks ago since he was home in Scalby on short leave. On the same day tidings were received that Ronald Coultas, a brother of the above, was at the base hospital suffering from shell shock. Happily Ronald was to survive the war.
Arnold is buried at Serre Road Cemetery No. 2. In the Spring of 1917 the battlefields of the Somme and Ancre were cleared by V Corps and a number of new cemeteries were made, three of which are now named from the Serre Road. Arnold Coultas’ body was brought in from its original burial spot and he is buried in the same row as Private J Rowse of 9th Battalion Yorkshire Regiment, who also died on 5 July 1916. There are over 7,100 burials in this concentration cemetery, making it the largest British cemetery on the Somme battlefield.
As well as being remembered on the memorial in St Laurence’s Churchyard, Arnold and his brother Reginald are remembered on the Memorial Cross outside the Church of All Saints, Hovingham, North Yorkshire where the family moved to some time before the First World War broke out.
The Informal Will Arnold completed from a page in his soldier’s pocket-book has survived, and appears below.