1938 – May, Arthur

Image taken from Derbyshire Times 1938 Disaster reporting

Image taken from Derbyshire Times 1938 Disaster reporting

1938 – ARTHUR MAY, Contractor, 59

Arthur May of 45 North Crescent, Duckmanton was married to Emily who died at the age of fifty-four, leaving Arthur a widower.  They had been married for thirty years.  At the time of the disaster a number of his children were still living with him.  During the First World War Arthur served as part of the 9th (Service) Battalion of the Sherwood Foresters.  Arthur survived the war and was honourably discharged on the 28th September 1918, less than two months before the end of the war.  He was buried at Duckmanton.

Arthur was commemorated on the 26th September 2018. The location of the artwork can be found in zone 5 on the trail map which can be downloaded here.

 

Family History Researched by Paul Burkitt:

Arthur May was born in 1879 in Chesterfield. His parents were William May (1850 – 1929) and Hannah Eliza Short (1850 – 1926). During the First World War Arthur served as part of the 9th (Service) Battalion of the Sherwood Forresters. Arthur survived the war and was honourably discharged on the 28 September 1918, less than two months before the end of the war. He was 39 years old. Arthur returned to Derbyshire, and renewed his employment in the mining industry.

In 1938, Arthur was working at Markham Colliery as a contractor, when he was killed in the disaster of 10 May. He was 59 years old. At the time of the disaster he was living at 45 North Crescent in Duckmanton. A number of his children were still living with him.

Arthur May was born in 1879 in Chesterfield. His parents were William May (1850 1929) and Hannah Eliza Short (1850 1926). On the 1881 Census, Arthur was living with his parents and siblings at Brampton Wharf, Walton, a suburb of Chesterfield. His father was employed as a miner. There were several mines in the area, including Brampton Colliery. On the 1891 Census, Arthur was shown as twelve years old. They were living at 16 Church Lane in Chesterfield. His father, and two older brothers were all miners. His slightly older brother, Frederick at the age of 14, was working underground as a pony driver. Arthur was still attending the local school. Arthur is ‘missing’ from the 1901 Census. His parents were ‘visitors’ to the household of their oldest son, Thomas, who has three young children, but is a widower. Probably his parents and the rest of the family were helping Thomas with his young children. Thomas was living in Attercliffe in Sheffield. Arthur was not on the 1901 Census, because at some point he had joined the regular army, probably straight from school.

 

He had joined the 1st Notts & Derbys The ‘Sherwood Foresters’, around 1892 and had served 16 years, before retiring from the army around 1907. He married, Emily Pilkington in the same year. On the 1911 Census, Arthur was living with Emily and their two children, Arthur May and Edna Lillian May. Two other children had died. They were living on Brockwell Lane in Chesterfield. Arthur, on leaving the army had become a miner. The Census showed him to be a ‘Coal Miner Filler’ In the summer of 1914, the assassination of Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austria-Hungary throne, triggered a series of events that led to the start of World War 1. Britain declared war on Germany on the 4th August 1918, after German troops marched into neutral Belgium, and then refused to withdraw. The United Kingdom did not have a large army and did not operate a policy of conscription, but did have a small professional army. Therefore, there was a urgent need for volunteers. As Secretary of State for War, Lord Kitchener launched a recruitment campaign, looking initially for 100,000 volunteers to join the regular forces. This campaign appealed to the sense of duty and patriotism of the country’s men. They also called up retired soldiers, and Arthur appears to be first in line when he joined the newly created 9th (Service) Battalion of the Sherwood Forresters on the 15th August 1914, only eleven days after the declaration of war. He signed up in Derby. The movements of this Battalion are as follows: History of the 9th (Service) Battalion Formed at Derby in August 1914. Moved initially to Grantham. Moved to Frensham in April 1915. Sailed from Liverpool in early July 1915 for Gallipoli, landing at Suvla Bay 7 August 1915. Evacuated from Gallipoli December 1915, moved to Egypt via Imbros. Moved to France in July 1916 Arthur would have been part of these actions. Arthur was made a sergeant on 27 June 1916, just a few days before the start of the Battle of the Somme. On 19 October 1916, Arthur was transferred to the 12th (Service) Battalion, which was a Pioneer Battalion. Pioneer battalions, were not only trained infantry, but were also able to conduct pioneer duties. Infantry Pioneer battalions were frequently in front of the infantry digging saps, new trench lines, sorting barbed wire etc. Arthur, with his mining skills would have been an ideal candidate for such activities.

 

Arthur survived the war and was honourably discharged on the 28 September 1918, less than two months before the end of the war. He was 39 years old. Arthur returned to Derbyshire, and renewed his employment in the mining industry. In 1937, Emily died at the age of 54, leaving Arthur a widower. They had been married for thirty years. In 1938, Arthur was working at Markham Colliery as a contractor, when he was killed in the disaster of 10 May. He was 59 years old At the time of the disaster he was living at 45 North Crescent in Duckmanton. A number of his children were still living with him. Arthur had his will published in July 1938 May Arthur of 45 North-Crescent Duckmanton near Chesterfield Derbyshire Died 10 May 1938 at the Markham Colliery near Chesterfield. Probate London 22 July to George Frederick May and Arthur May coal miners. Effects £114. A year after Arthur was killed, his children placed an In Memoriam notice in The ‘Derbyshire Times and Chesterfield Herald’ In memory of our dear father, ARTHUR MAY accidently killed in Markham Pit Disaster May 10th 1938 “Rest after toll” -From All at Home.

 

Further information can be downloaded here.

Arthur May

Arthur May family tree updated

 

Further Information

Markham Colliery 1938 disaster

List of miners killed and injured in the 1938 disaster

List of miners killed in the 1938 disaster who were buried in Duckmanton