Having survived the First Battle of Passchendaele Arthur was among those providing artillery support for the attack and he was digging in with his gun crew (C Battery of the 223rd Brigade) on the west side of the Poperinge-Elverdinge road near St Julien, just near Ypres in Belgium in preparation for the last campaign of the Third Battle of Ypres scheduled to start on 22 October.
They had been delayed and forced to change position by heavy enemy shelling on the previous day 17 October. One officer was killed in action that day. There was some problem with very wet ground and a lack of cover against continued enemy shelling but they established their position nonetheless on 18 October and awaited their supply of ammunition for the planned operation.
Arthur was wounded when his gun battery was bombed by German aircraft on 28 October, and was buried in the cemetery on Hospital farm, which is now private land. Denis visited his grandfather’s grave while on Christmas vacation in 1987/88. According to the cemetery tabernacle they were the only visitors since his grandmother’s visit in 1919!
It would have been extraordinary for his grandmother to have seen the devastation of those battlefields and to have seen the simple grave, just a wooden cross, given her husband at that time. Most soldiers were buried where they died, and simple crosses erected by their battalion mates. It was only later that more formal cemeteries were organised out of respect for the enormous loss of life on both sides and memorials erected. Denis plans to visit Arthur’s grave again in 2018.
Prior to that last battle in late October Arthur along with all those involved had been asked (told) to write a 'letter' home. He would have understood the official reason for this and would have been well aware of the possible personal fate that he faced (his brother-in-law Frank Williams had died on the Somme in 1916).
Arthur chose to write home to his wife Emily (always known as 'Cissy') and children using the lovely silk embroidered post cards made and sold by the French women, rather than the ordinary field cards available. She had begun a collection of these cards, which Denis still treasures, along with his grandfather's Memorial Plaque known as a Dean Man's Penny and his medals.
Denis also has a photo-postcard of his grandfather Arthur taken at Ypres in 1917 and has always been impressed with the bearing of the horse. His grandfather trained horses at one of the bases on Salisbury Plain in England between 1914 and 1916. They were trained not to panic under fire.
Mootz is a German name, and Denis says his grandmother’s house was always watched for years while Arthur was fighting for Britain, even after Arthur was killed and the war was over. She would take cups of tea out to the person standing on surveillance at night under the lamppost during the winter months. His grandmother moved to Australia with her two young children in 1920, rather than staying at home in Manchester as the carer and housekeeper for her sisters and invalid father.
Lest we forget!