b. 07/06/1896 Sheffield, Yorkshire. d. 10/04/1924 Sheffield, Yorkshire.
Arnold Loosemore (1896-1924) was born at 3 Dyson Lane (now Dyson Place), Sharrow, Sheffield, Yorkshire on 7th June 1896. His father, George Henry “Harry” Loosemore, was a farm servant and later head gardener at the General Cemetery in Sheffield. He married Selina Hoyland in 1882. Arnold was one of eight children. His siblings were Joseph (born 1883), George (born 1885), John (born 1887), Harry (born 1890), Mary (born 1892, died 1893), Frank (born 1894) and Ernest (born 1898).
Arnold was educated at Clifford Church of England School, Sheffield. By 1911, he was working as a cowboy on Samuel Clarke’s Lowfields Farm, near Sheffield. When war broke out, he tried to enlist, but was rejected for being in poor physical shape and took a job as a carter with a coal merchant to build himself up. Arnold tried again and enlisted in the York and Lancaster Regiment on 2nd January 1915, adding a year to his age. He joined the 3rd Battalion a week later, and transferred to the West Riding Regiment Depot on 19th March and departed England on 1st September, arriving in the Mediterranean on the 9th.
He served at Gallipoli with 8th Battalion from 11th September, and the Battalion moved to Mudros in December, then to Egypt on 7th February 1916 and to France on 7th July. He was confined to barracks for 7 days for being absent from billets on the first day he was in France. He then trained as a Lewis gunner, and is reputed to have shot down a German aircraft.
On 11th August 1917 south of Langemarck, Belgium, during the attack on a strongly held enemy position and his platoon having been held up by heavy machine-gun fire, Private Loosemore crawled through partially cut wire, dragging his Lewis gun with him and single-handed dealt with a strong party of the enemy, killing about 20 of them. Immediately afterwards his Lewis gun was destroyed and three of the enemy rushed at him, but he shot them with his revolver. Later he shot several enemy snipers, and on returning to the original post he brought back a wounded comrade under heavy fire.
He was promoted to Corporal soon after the VC action, and the VC was presented to him by King George V at Buckingham Palace on 2nd January 1918. On his return to Sheffield on 3rd January, he was greeted by a crowd of 2,000, but war weariness had set in and there was a lack of bands and the normal pomp and ceremony of such occasions. He was accompanied by his father and two of his brothers as the other four brothers were serving in France and Italy. Arnold returned to France on the 12th. On the disbandment of the 8th West Riding, he moved to 1/4th West Riding on 1st May. He was promoted to Sergeant five days later.
He was awarded the DCM for his actions on 19th-20th June 1918 at Langemarck, Belgium, when he was on patrol and his officer was wounded and the platoon was scattered by enemy bombs. He rallied the men and brought them back in good order with all the wounded. He was shot in the left leg on 13th October 1918 near Villers-en-Cauchies, France, and his leg was amputated. He was evacuated back to England on 27th October and he was presented with the DCM by King George V at Victoria Hall, Sheffield on 20th May 1919. He was discharged with 60% disability and given a pension. Sheffield raised £1,000 on his behalf.
He used the money to run a poultry farm at Redmires near Sheffield, but it was too physically demanding. He took up photography and got about on a pony and trap purchased him with a helper-driver to assist his mobility, but he lived in a three-storey court house and could not cope with the stairs. The Rotary Club added a large hut at the rear for him to work and sleep in. He married Amy Morton on 24th August 1920 at St Andrew’s Church, Sharrow. They had a son, Arnold, born in 1921, who served in the Royal Engineers in North Africa in World War II.
Arnold was confined to bed for the last year of his life, during which his health continued to deteriorate as a result of the war and he contracted military tuberculosis. He battled the disease for a few weeks, but died at his home at 11 Court, 3 Stannington Road, Stannington, Sheffield on 10th April 1924. His death came just four days after his maternal aunt, Sarah Hannah Johnson. They were both buried in the Johnson family plot at Ecclesall New Churchyard, Sheffield with full military honours on 15th April 1924. His wife struggled financially after his death and the government refused to pay her a war widow’s pension because he was not serving at the time of their marriage and she was fully aware of his injuries when they married. She was forced to take another job. In 1942, she met Sergeant John Hannah VC on the stage of the Forum Cinema, Sheffield.
In addition to the VC and DCM, he was awarded the 1914-15 Star, British War Medal 1914-20 and Victory Medal 1914-19. The VC and DCM were sold at Sotheby’s for £1,080 on 1st May 1969 to Kenneth Thomson, Chairman of Times newspapers. In 1986, the VC was sold to John Marskell of Toronto, who then sold it to an arts and antiques dealer from Australia called Wayne Gardiner. The medals were displayed at the Army Museum of Western Australia in October 2006 with two other loaned VC groups – Frederick Bell VC and Cliff Sadlier VC. His medal group is in private ownership, but are now being put up for sale at a Noonan’s auction on 26th July 2023, with an estimate of £220,000. The auction saw a hammer price of exactly on estimate. The group was purchased on behalf of the Ashcroft Collection.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: LORD ASHCROFT GALLERY, IMPERIAL WAR MUSEUM, LONDON
BURIAL PLACE: ALL SAINTS CHURCH, ECCLESHALL, SHEFFIELD. JOHNSON FAMILY PLOT.
Sheffield City Council – Image of the Loosemore VC Stone.
Noonans – Images of the Loosemore VC Medal Group and VC Medal.