13211 Sergeant Arthur Spowage DCM

Sergeant Arthur Spowage DCM


2nd Battalion

Grenadier Guards


Arthur Spowage was born at Sibthorpe in 1889 and baptised on the 12th May 1889 at St Peter’s in Sibthorpe. Arthur was the fourth child and third son of Thomas Spowage and Ann Spowage (nee Grantham).

Arthur’s dad Thomas Spowage was born in about 1852 in Elston, Thomas’s dad Levi was born in Elston and Thomas’s mum Ellen was born in East Stoke.

Arthur’s mum Anne Grantham was born in 1848 at West Keal near Spilsby in Lincolnshire. Her dad Richard Grantham was a master Tailor from Stainton Le Vale near Caistor Lincolnshire, and her mum Mary was from Thorpe (about 1 km to the east of Keal). Ann was baptised 17th Sep 1848 at St Helen in West Keal.

In the census of 1891 Arthur is living at home with his mum and dad in Elston, the census gives his age as 7 years the same age as his brother Eli – this is clearly a typographical error not uncommon with busy enumeration officers – Arthur would be about 3 years old. Arthur’s dad is described as ‘agricultural Labourer’. The eldest George is aged 13 and Eliza is aged 10.

In the census of 1901 Arthur is living at home with his parents in Elston, his siblings have left the family home and his niece Bertha Barratt is staying with them in Elston. Arthur is reported as being 12 years old. His dad is now working as a farm bailiff.

We found from the census of 1911 that Arthur is now serving in the 1st Battalion of The Grenadier Guards.

At some point between 1901 and WW1 Arthur was a police officer in the county of Nottinghamshire stationed at Bingham, we know he was a police officer from two separate news paper items from two different newspapers; the first is an account recorded in the Newark Advertiser in 2010 that states Arthur was an army reservist and joined the 2nd Battalion The Grenadier Guards in 1914. (Images below):

Remembering the police who gave all in the Great War

photo: Newspaper clipping: Remembering the police who gave all in the Great War.

Transcription from the above Newark Advertiser dated 12 February 2012.




After years in storage, memorial stone tablets bearing the names of police officers who died in action in the first world war are again on display.

The names of the fallen, some with connections to the Newark area, can be seen at Nottinghamshire Police’s headquarters at Sherwood Lodge, Arnold.

The names include Sergeant Arthur Spowage, of Elston, who as the Advertiser’s archives revealed, was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal.

Because of the vast number of casualties and the difficulties getting information from the frontline, news of his death on March 30, 1918, was not printed until April 24 of that year.

The Advertiser’s coverage reads: “Following tragically soon upon the announcement of the award of the DCM to Sergeant A. Spowage comes the sad notification of the gallant soldiers death in action.

The information was contained in a leyyer from an officer, who stated that he was in a dugout when a shell fell and burst upon it, killing him instantaneously.”




The Obituary says that Sergeant Spowage attended Elston’s Wesleyan school before joining the police and being stationed at Bingham.

He was single and an Army reservist who joined the 2nd Battalion the Grenadier Guards in 1914. He was 27 when he was killed.

He won the DCM for leading his platoon after his officer was wounded.

Under heavy fire, he led his men in capturing several machine gun nests, killing the teams, and consolidated his position when otherwise the line might have broken.

Sergeant Spowage was a crack shot, who won his battalion’s Golden Gun award during training. His spirits were said to be high when he returned to Elston to see his father and mother in the January before his death.

His captain wrote later to his father, Thomas Spowage: “You will have heard by now my bad news, and I only wish the necessities of war had allowed me the opportunity before this of writing to tell you how sad I was at the death of your son.

It is no exaggeration that I would sooner have lost anyone in the company but him.

This you will understand, for apart from my infection for him – which was shared by all the men – he was such a master of musketry and so competent in all his duties.

After all these months and years of service, it does seem hard that a shell should have pitched directly on to the small dugout in which he and three others were sitting.

There was never any chance and he only lived for a few minutes afterwards. A cross has been placed on his grave which had to be the place where he died.”

The report goes on to say that Mr and Mrs Spowage had by then received a communiqué from the War Office confirming their son’s death.