Arthur Wells

Photograph

Memorial Plaque

LCE CPL A. WELLS M.M
    ROYL W. SURREYS
            5 OCT. 1917

The details on this plaque do not wholly correlate with his surviving military records (see below), two of which give his rank as Private. His medal record gives his date of death as the 4th, not the 5th.

Connection with Effingham

He was born in the village, as were his father and grandfather, and was evidently still living there at the time he enlisted.

Genealogy

His father was Arthur (Snr.) whose own father was William Wells. William married in 1853 to Elizabeth (Snr.) (née) Dench [GRO Ref: Guildford 2a 59, 1853 (Q2)]. Their wedding took place at West Horsley on June 6th [IGI: Batch M040391]. Elizabeth (Snr.)’s parents were Thomas Dench and Sarah. She had been baptised at West Horsley on November 4th 1832 [IGI: Batch C040391]. Among her siblings was a younger brother John Dench, baptised on March 1st 1835 [IGI: Batch C040391].

Arthur (Snr.) was born in Effingham in 1866 [GRO Ref: Dorking 2a 131, 1866 (Q4)]. Here he is with his parents in the 1871 Census: 

1871 Census
Brookhill Lodge, Effingham, Surrey : PRO Ref: RG10 Piece 829 Folio 102 Page 7

William Wells : head : mar : 42 : agricultural labourer : Effingham, Surrey
Elizabeth [Snr.] Wells : wife : mar : 39 : — : West Horsley, Surrey
Thomas Wells : son : unm : 14 : agricultural labourer : Effingham, Surrey
William Wells : son : unm : 10 : scholar : Effingham, Surrey
Mary Wells : dau : unm : 7 : scholar : Effingham, Surrey
Arthur [Snr.] Wells : son : unm : 5 : scholar : Effingham, Surrey
Ann Wells : dau : unm : 2 : — : Effingham, Surrey

Meanwhile John Dench had married and produced, by his wife Mary, several children including Elizabeth (Jnr.) (née) Dench, born in Ockham or Chertsey in 1867 [GRO Ref: Chertsey 2a 25, 1867 (Q1)]. Here she is with her parents in the 1871 Census:

1871 Census
Southend, Ockham, Surrey : PRO Ref: RG10 Piece 809 Folio 55 Page 15

John Dench : head : mar : 37 : carter : West Horsley, Surrey
with his wife Mary and four children, including:
Elizabeth [Jnr.] Dench : dau : unm : 4 : — : Ockham, Surrey

Thus, Arthur (Snr.) and Elizabeth (Jnr.) were first cousins, and in due course would marry. Here they are, as yet unmarried, in the 1881 Census:

1881 Census
The Village, Effingham, Surrey : PRO Ref: RG11 Piece 796 Folio 120 Page 14

William Wells : head : mar : 52 : agricultural labourer : Effingham, Surrey
Elizabeth [Snr.] Wells : wife : mar : 49 : — : West Horsley, Surrey
Thomas Wells : son : unm : 34 : agricultural labourer : Effingham, Surrey
Arthur [Snr.] Wells : son : unm : 14 : agricultural labourer : Effingham, Surrey
Annie Wells : dau : unm : 12 : scholar : Effingham, Surrey
Bessie Wells : dau : unm : 7 : scholar : Effingham, Surrey
Richard Wells : dau : unm : 4 : scholar : Effingham, Surrey

1881 Census
Lingrove Cottages, Weybridge, Surrey : PRO Ref: RG11 Piece 766 Folio 52 Page 43

Henry Brown : head : mar : 31 : bricklayer : Chertsey, Surrey
with his family and this servant:
Elizabeth [Jnr.] Dench : servant : unm : 14 : general servant domestic : Chertsey, Surrey

Arthur (Snr.) and Elizabeth (Jnr.) married in 1889 [GRO Ref: Reigate 2a 307, 1889 (Q4)]. The 1891 Census finds them in Reigate:

1891 Census
No. 29, North Albert Road, Reigate, Surrey : PRO Ref: RG12 Piece 579 Folio 113 Page 12

Arthur [Snr.] Wells : head : mar : 24 : bricklayer’s labourer : Effingham, Surrey
Elizabeth [Jnr.] Wells : wife : mar : 22 : — : Chertsey, Surrey
Edward Wells : son : unm : 11 months : — : Reigate, Surrey

In 1894 their third child Arthur was born in Effingham [GRO Ref: Dorking 2a 155, 1894 (Q3)], after which the family moved to Hersham where four more children were born:

1901 Census
Broad Lane, Hersham, Walton on Thames, Surrey : PRO Ref: RG13 Piece 588 Folio 31 Page 9

Arthur [Snr.] Wells : head : mar : 34 : bricklayer : Effingham, Surrey
Elizabeth [Jnr.] Wells : wife : mar : 34 : — : Effingham [in error], Surrey
Edward Wells : son : unm : 10 : — : Reigate, Surrey
Annette Wells : dau : unm : 9 : — : Reigate, Surrey
Arthur Wells : son : unm : 6 : — : Effingham, Surrey
Robert Wells : son : unm : 4 : — : Hersham, Surrey
Wm. Charles Wells : son : unm : 3 : — : Hersham, Surrey
Richard Wells : son : unm : 1 : — : Hersham, Surrey
Albert George Wells : son : unm : 4 months : — : Hersham, Surrey

By 1911 the family had become even larger and was now back in Effingham:

1911 Census
The Pit, Effingham, Leatherhead, Surrey : PRO Ref: RG14 Piece 3193 Schedule 76

Arthur [Snr.] Wells : head : mar : 44 : bricklayer : Effingham, Surrey
Elizabeth [Jnr.] Wells : wife : mar : 44 : — : Chertsey, Surrey
Annetta Wells : dau : unm : 19 : domestic servant : Reigate, Surrey
Arthur Wells : son : unm : 16 : home labourer : Effingham, Surrey
Robert Wells : son : unm : 15 : farm labourer : Hersham, Surrey
William Wells : son : unm : 14 : farm labourer : Hersham, Surrey
Richard Wells : son : unm : 12 : school : Hersham, Surrey
Albert Wells : son : unm : 9 : school : Hersham, Surrey
Walter Wells : son : unm : 8 : school : Hersham, Surrey
Elizabeth R. Wells : dau : unm : 7 : school : Hersham, Surrey
Mary E. Wells : dau : unm : 5 : — : Hersham, Surrey
Agnes M. Wells : dau : unm : 1 : — : Effingham, Surrey

In the War Arthur served in the Queen’s (Royal West Surrey) Regiment, 2nd Bn., with Service Number L/10685. He appears to have been in France as early as December 17th 1914. In 1917 he was awarded the Military Medal, as reported on June 18th 1917 in the Supplement to the London Gazette [Issue 30135]. On Page 6017 there begins a very long list of those to whom it had been awarded, prefixed by the usual King’s commendation, and Arthur appears in that list on Page 6024:

His Majesty the KING has been graciously pleased to award the Military Medal for bravery in the field to the undermentioned Non-commissioned Officers and Men:—

10685 Pte. A. Wells, R. W. Surr. R. 

It appears that he was then promoted to Lance Corporal. He was killed in action on October 4th/5th 1917.

Military Records

1. Service Record – not found

2. Commonwealth War Graves Commission Record

Name
Rank
Regiment
Age
Date of Death
Service No.
Additional info.
.
Grave/Memorial Ref.
Cemetery

WELLS, ARTHUR
Lance Corporal
The Queen’s (Royal West Surrey) Regiment, 2nd Bn.
24 [but actually 23]
05/10/1917
L/10685
Son of Arthur and Elizabeth Wells,
of 9, Victory Cottages, Effingham, Leatherhead, Surrey.
Panel 14 to 17 and 162 to 162A.
TYNE COT MEMORIAL

3. “Soldiers Died in the Great War” Record

This adds that he enlisted at Guildford. It gives his rank as Private and states that he was awarded the Military Medal. It also says that he died in “France & Flanders” (the Tyne Cot Memorial is in Belgium). 

4. Medal Record

His medal record mentions only the standard campaign medals.