Early History
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Arthur's Early Life

Before the Great War

The first record of Arthur is that of his birth on 23rd April 1878 in St John's Parish, Ipswich, Suffolk.  His father was Thomas Saunders and his mother was Ann.  Thomas was a Saddler and Harness Maker for the firm of Henry Finn in Ipswich where he was employed for forty five years.

When he reached school age Arthur attended St. John's C of E  Primary School` in Ipswich.  He then moved on to the California School.  One family story about Arthur during these years is that he was dared by his school friends to do a handstand on the parapet of the viaduct which ran over the valley just up from their house.  This of course he did....... much to the consternation of his sister Nell and to the cheering of the boys present.

A painting of a later view of the viaduct


Photograph of the viaduct Still much later than Authur's time (1950s)

At the age of fifteen years and nine months he joined the Navy


He then joined the Marine Society Training Ship Warspite as he trained for the Merchant Navy

The ensign of the Marine Society

Arthur was very proud of the medal of the Marine Society which he was awarded on 15th June 1899

The training ship Warspite - Arthur trained on this ship from November 1893 until February 1894.

He then joined the Royal Navy  and can be seen in the photograph above as a young "boy" sailor in 1895. He served for fifteen years rising to the rank of  Petty Officer 2nd Class.  

When he left the Navy he went to work for Ransomes, Sims & Jeffries a large company in Ipswich which made all sorts of  agricultural machinery - grass cutters, ploughs and steam engines. Below are men working in the very factory - "Orwell Works"

Ransomes of Ipswich were at the forefront of the agricultural engineering and grass cutting industries in Britain. In their 200 year history they were responsible for many innovations including the self sharpening plough share and the world's first self-moving agricultural machine

A Ransomes, Sims & Jeffries Traction Engine

During this time it is thought that he must have joined a Territorial branch of the Suffolk Regiment because his number in the Regiment is 3/10133 and figure 3 which starts the number means that he was a pre 1914 soldier in the 3rd(Special Reserve) Battalion.  He would have been given six months training on enlistment and would then have gone for one month of refresher training each year. Thanks to Col Paul Denny, County Commandant of Suffolk Army Cadet Force for that last bit of information.