Arthur Wesley ALLCHURCH was born in Hampshire in 1891 the son of Elisha and Emma ALLCHURCH. His father was a Corporal with the Somerset Light Infantry and in November 1891 was posted to Gibraltar. Arthur and a younger sister were both baptised in Gibraltar. On return to the UK in 1895 the family were based in Dover where Elisha attended the School of Musketry. In 1900 he was promoted to Quarter Master Sergeant and in July 1905 was discharged from the army. It was noted that he was a good clerk with special knowledge of musketry clerical duties. The family settled in Hounslow where Elisha died in 1910.
At the age of 20 his son Arthur joined the Metropolitan Police, was issued with warrant number 100320 and posted to L Division as PC76. Towards the end of 1913 he volunteered for duty with the Hong Kong Police and resigned from the Metropolitan Police on 22 December. Five days later he left UK aboard P&Os “Nile” bound for Hong Kong.
On 4 August 1914 Britain declared war on Germany and our boys in Hong Kong wanted to play their part, however, it was to be a whole year before permission was granted for them to volunteer. The first group of 12 departed in July 1915. In November a larger group, including Arthur, was ready to leave.
A farewell dinner was held at the Astor House Hotel. Mr. T.H. King A.S.P. proposed the toast and wished the men “God speed”.
“The men who were going Home would have lots of adventures but he (Mr King) could not say it would be a holiday. But whatever happened they had their most sincere wishes and he said most heartily on behalf of the force that the good wishes of them all went with them. Wherever they were he was sure they would maintain the traditions and name of the Hong Kong Police Force (cheers) and they would make those Germans run (renewed cheers).”
The following day the men, wearing their Hong Kong Police uniforms and carrying their guns, marched from Central Police Station to Blake Pier accompanied by the pipe and brass bands of the 74th. Punjab Regiment. Many hundreds turned out to cheer them on with greetings being waved from balconies all along the route. The band gave a selection of music on the pier and played “Auld Lang Syne” as the tender cast off to the accompaniment of rousing cheers.
The recruits sailed in the ss Nallore from Hong Kong to Colombo where they transferred to ss Mongolia for the voyage to Plymouth.
Their arrival in UK deserved special mention in the newspapers:
“A picturesque group of recruits arrived in Whitehall yesterday having travelled 12,000 miles to take part in the defence of the Empire.
In neat blue uniforms with white facings and large helmets the men were a centre of interest to the public. They comprised 21 police officers, 5 warders and 5 members of the HK Royal Naval Dockyard Police – also a sanitary inspector and a railway guard.
The majority had not made up their minds what regiments they should join. They were not fastidious about it – infantry, artillery, anything would do. “We did not come here to twiddle our thumbs” remarked one stalwart recruit. The Scotsmen found no difficulty in deciding what they should do. Their anxiety was whether they should be able to join a Highland regiment in London. “Nothing but the kilt for me” said a brawny lad whose home is Dundee. “I’m joining the Black Watch”.
The recruits are to be allowed a fortnight’s leave to allow them to visit their homes before joining the colours”
Arthur joined the Kings Royal Rifle Corps as Private R/17759. Six months later on 1 July 1916 Arthur died in action - he is remembered on the Arras Memorial.
The register of soldiers effects shows that his mother received £3.