Arthur James Purfield - Biography (Survivor)

A Year In The Life Of Arthur James Purfield by Alistair Riach

My father in law, Jim Purfield, grew up in Cobham, North Kent. His father, a grocer, sent him to Hitchin to learn the grocery trade with W B Moss. He boarded in Letchworth. At the outbreak of war, he enlisted in Hitchin, but went home to Kent to join the 8th Queens Own Royal West Kents. Herbert Baines (a friend from Holwell and Hitchin) went with him. We don't know how they knew each other; it could have been through the Methodist Church, or cricket, or some other way. 

Perhaps what is more important for local history or any of Herbert Baines relatives, is that we know what he was doing over the next year of training and the journey to France and his part in the terrible second day of the Battle of Loos, when he was killed.

After Jim Purfield died in 1975, we found his daily diary from September 11th 1914, when he left Letchworth with Herbert Baines, through the training, travel across France and into battle at Loos. It is a compelling story, which we made into a talk which my wife and I have given to several groups. So everything that Jim Purfield recorded in his diary would have been shared with Herbert Baines.

In 2014 we went to France, and traced the long march the battalion took across to Loos. The attached photo shows Herbert Baines name on the memorial wall at Dud Corner Cemetery.

So, if there is anyone that you think would like to share the whole story, please let me know. We have recently moved back to Bedfordshire, hence my renewed interest in trying to find the connection between these two friends. It must have been terribly heart breaking for Jim to have persuaded his friend to go with him, only for him to die so soon.

Incidentally, Jim Purfield served in France throughout the war and afterwards was Manager of Moss's shop in Shefford for many years.

A Year In The Life Of Arthur James Purfield

A Year In The Life Of Arthur James Purfield - Postscript