b. 11/08/1890 Bootle, Merseyshire. d. 27/01/1973 Sheffield, Yorkshire.
Arthur Herbert Procter (1890-1973) was born at 55 Church Street, Derby Road, Bootle, Lancashire on 11th August 1890. Sometimes his surname is seen as Proctor. His father was Arthur Richard Procter, a clerk working for Parr’s Bank, Liverpool. By 1901 he was a shipping clerk. Arthur’s mother was Sarah Ellen nee Cumpsty. His parents married in 1886 in West Derby, Lancashire. Arthur had four siblings – Ethel Mary, Clarence, Ernest and Cecil Frederick.
Arthur was educated at St Mary’s Church of England School, Church Street, Bootle. His father lost his job, drank heavily and became aggressive towards Sarah and Arthur. Arthur went to live with his uncle, Herbert Procter, and great aunt, in Exeter. His mother’s health deteriorated after the birth of Cecil in 1903. Arthur returned to Liverpool, where he completed his education at Port Sunlight School until 1904. He was a member of the St Luke’s Church Lad’s Brigade in Tranmere and later became its chaplain. He was also a Sunday School teacher at St Paul’s Presbyterian Mission, Stuart Road, Tranmere.
He was employed as a clerk by Wilson & Co in the wholesale provision and produce trade at Liverpool Produce Exchange from 1904-1914. Arthur enlisted on 26th November 1914 and went to France in February 1915. He was wounded in the arm by shrapnel on 14th May in the Bethune area and treated at 2nd Canadian Field Hospital at Le Touquet before returning to his unit in June.
On 4th June 1916, near Ficheux, France, Private Procter noticed some movement on the part of two wounded men who were lying in full view of the enemy about 15 yards in front of the trenches. He at once went out on his own initiative and, although heavily fired at, ran and crawled to the two men, got them under cover of a small bank dressed their wounds and promised that they would be rescued after dark. He left them with warm clothing and then returned to the trenches, again being heavily fired at. The men were rescued at dusk.
The VC was presented by King George V at HQ Fourth Army, Querrieu, near Amiens, France on 9th August 1916. When he retuned on leave after his investiture, he received an enthusiastic reception at the Territorial HQ in Liverpool. He was congratulated by the Mayor and paraded through the streets to the Corn Exchange. He was presented with a gold watch and chain, a cheque for 100 guineas and £100 in War Loans from the Liverpool Provision Trade Association. He was promoted to Corporal in 1918, and although recommended for a commission, he did not pass the medical due to his wounds and was discharged on 14th October 1918.
He had married Hilda May Codd on 23rd May 1917 at St Paul’s Church, Tranmere and they went on to have four sons. He was a member of the VC Guard at the interment of the Unknown Warrior on 11th November 1920. He returned to being a salesman in the provisions trade, until 1925. Arthur then studied for a career in the clergy at St Aidan’s College, Birkenhead in 1926 and was ordained deacon at Liverpool Cathedral on 18th December 1927. He held a number of appointments in the church.
During the Second World War, he served as a RAF Squadron Leader Chaplain from 4th March 1941 until November 1944. In April 1954, he assisted at the funeral of Arthur Hutt VC in Coventry. Arthur retired to Shrewsbury in 1965 and lived at Clover Dell. He was one of the 10 VCs on a VC10 on the inaugural flight of the Super Vickers VC10 from London to Nairobi on 6th April 1970. In 1971, he and his wife Hilda, moved to Sheffield for the last years of his life. Arthur died in Winter Street Hospital, Sheffield on 26th January 1973. His funeral was held in the Chapel of St George, Sheffield Cathedral on 1st February, followed by cremation at City Road Crematorium. His ashes were interred in All Saint’s Chapel, Sheffield Cathedral. His wife died in 1983 after returning to Shrewsbury.
In addition to his VC, he was awarded the 1914-15 Star, British War Medal 1914-20, Victory Medal 1914-19, Defence Medal 1939-45, War Medal 1939-45, George VI Coronation Medal 1937 and Elizabeth II Coronation Medal 1953. His medals were sold for £18,700 at a Glendinnings auction on 19th September 1990. They are held by the King’s Regiment Collection, Museum of Liverpool.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: KINGS REGIMENT MUSEUM, LIVERPOOL.
BURIAL PLACE: SHEFFIELD CATHEDRAL, SHEFFIELD, YORKSHIRE.
(ASHES INTERRED IN ALL SAINTS CHAPEL).
Arthur Proctor's medals on the Kings Regimental Museum website.
Manchester Regiment Museum, Ashton under Lyne.
War Illustrated, 26th August 1916
All Saints Chapel, Sheffield Cathedral
Freemason's Memorial, London
St Mary's Church, Droylsden, Manchester