Arthur Soffe

Date of birth: 1895
Place of birth: Southampton
Service number: 26565
Rank: sapper
Regiment: Corps of Royal Engineers
Battalion: 56th field convoy
Died: 19th May 1915, aged 20
Death location: France and Flanders

Military Service
In WW1 Arthur Soffe enlisted for service in Bristol and served as a sapper in the 56th field convoy of the Corps of Royal Engineers (service number: 26565) his military record has not survived. The Royal Engineers maintained rail, road and waterways to ensure the army obtained its supplies and communications as they also maintained telephones and other signalling equipment. They built front line fortifications to protect infantry, maintained the guns and other weapons. The 56th field convoy (along with the 57th) were allocated to the 3rd division who were one of the first British formations to move to France where they remained throughout the war. A Sappers duties are devoted to tasks involving facilitating the movement of allied forces and impeding those of the enemies.
Arthur Soffe died of his wounds on 19th May 1915, aged 20 and is buried at La Clytte Military Cemetery in Belgium.

He was posthumously awarded the Victory medal, the British medal and 1915 Star medal in recognition of his services to his country and is inscribed on the cenotaph at Southampton “lest we forget”

The Star campaign medal of the British Empire was awarded for service in World War One. Also known as the Mons Star. The recipient of this medal also received the British War Medal and Victory Medal, as it was not awarded singularly. This medal was sometimes irreverently referred to as ‘Pip’.

The British War Medal was awarded for service in World War One. Also called the British Empire campaign medal, it was issued for services between 5th August 1914 and 11th November 1918. The medal was automatically awarded in the event of death on active service. This medal was sometimes irreverently referred to as ‘Squeak’.

The Victory medal, also called the Inter Allied Victory Medal was awarded to those who received the British War Medal. It was never awarded alone. This medal was sometimes irreverently referred to as ‘Wilfred’.

Life before the war:
Arthur Soffe was born in Southampton between July and September 1895, fourth child to Frank Soffe a general labourer (born 1866) and Sarah Jane Harvey (also born 1866) who had married between January and March 1888 in Southampton (vol2c p 61).
They had a total of six children but by 1911 two had died in infancy.
The following children of Frank and Sarah Jane are confirmed from parish records:

  1. Reginald Frank was born in 1890
  2. Agnes Maud was born in 1891 but died in 1894
  3. Dora Louisa was born in 1894
  4. Arthur was born in 1895
  5. Ethel May was born in 1898

In 1891 the family lived at 14 Wilton Street, Southampton. His father Frank Soffe was employed as a general labourer.
In 1901 the family had moved to 162 Priory Road. His father was self employed as a painter (masker) from his own home. Arthur and his elder siblings were all in school.
In 1911 the family lived at 228 Priory Road where his parents continued to live until their deaths. His father was self employed as a bricklayer, Arthur had no occupation listed.

His father Frank Soffe of 228 Priory Road St Denys, Southampton died on 25th January 1935. Probate was heard on 1st March in Winchester where £438 9s and 3d was left to Alfred Samuel Soffe clothier manager. His mother died the following year. (Southampton q4 vol2c p43).

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