Rank or Title
Date of Birth
Date of Death
20 Jul 1917
Place of Birth
World War I Address
Place of Death
War Memorial Location
Soldier or Civilian
Pte Arthur William Purser, 13857, 7th Battalion Bedfordshire Regiment, was severely wounded on the Somme on July 1st, 1916. For the next 12 months he underwent operations in hospital. In July 1917 he was sent home on leave to prepare for a further operation. On July 20th he died in uniform at home in Toddington, at the age of 32.
The former Sundon Cement and Lime Works employee, who had been given leave in 1915 to come home to bury his wife of eight years Elizabeth Jane, had been wounded in the throat and jaw on the Somme. His death came after eating mashed potatoes and pulped beans - he choked on food wedged in his throat that he could not swallow. He died ten minutes later as neighbour George Hobbs, a butcher, tried to help him.
Dr H. Stones Walsh told an inquest jury that Arthur's death was consistent with suffocation and due to the nature of his wounds. A jury returned a verdict in accordance with the medical evidence.
His wounds were said to have been caused by an explosive bullet which entered the lower left part of his jaw, passed through the roots of the tongue and shattered the right part of his jaw.
Arthur was buried with military honours at Toddington Cemetery on July 24th. A bugle and reed band and firing party were among about 50 members of the Command Depot from Ampthill Park to attend the funeral service at Toddington Wesleyan Chapel, followed by the interment.
At the time of the 1911 Census Arthur was living in Princes Street, Toddington. He left a young daughter, May, born in 1909.
He is remembered on Toddington War Memorial and the Sundon Cement and Lime Works War Memorials.