Saluting South Yorkshire VC hero on anniversary of amazing bravery
We salute a SheffieldÂ Victoria Cross recipient's war heroics 99 years ago today.
When: August 11 1917. Where: Langemarck, Belgium. What: During attack on strong enemy position, and his platoon stalled by heavy machine-gun fire, a young private crawled through partially cut wire, dragging his machine gun with him, to single-handed kill estimated 20 foe. His Lewis destroyed, three enemy rushed him, so he shot them with his revolver before hitting several enemy snipers while, under heavy fire, recovering wounded comrade.
Who: Arnold Loosemore, born one of a Sheffield gardener's seven sons on June 7 1896, died aged 27 on April 10 1924, buried in Ecclesall All Saints' Churchyard mass grave.
Why?: Because the South Yorkshire soldier was once of WW1's bravest.
A York and Lancaster and Duke of Wellington regiments serving officer from 1915 to 1918, Arnold enlisted as a 19-year-old, surviving ill-fated Gallipoli campaign before being bound for Somme trenches.
Within a year of winning VC - Forces' highest and most prestigious award for gallantry - he would add Distinguished Conduct Medal to hi collection after, on June 19 1918 at Zillebeke in the same country, again "displaying conspicuous gallantry and powers of leadership" when an officer was wounded and fighting platoon scattered by hostile bombs, rallying ranks and returning wounded to Allied lines.
On another occasion he once more showed determined disregard for his own danger under heavy machine gun fire to capture enemy post under attack.
Four months later Arnold became badly wounded by machine gun fire near Villiers-en-Cauchies in France, eventually having his left leg amputated above the knee. His health undermined by war wounds and unable to work, he died from tuberculosis, leaving small son and wife Amy, refused a War Widows' pension from the government - highlighted by Channel 4's 'WW1's Forgotten Heroes' - because he died post-war and she knew he was ill when she married him. Almost destitute, she had to have him buried in an existing grave with three others in order to save funds.
His VC and DCM were sold in 1969 and are now privately owned and not on public display. Early '90s saw S12 Sheffield street named Loosemore Drive by the then lord mayor. A memorial plaque, removed due to repeated vandalism, was replaced in December 2014 by new bronze tribute to one of Sheffield's bravest son whose nerves were clearly steel.