A Life Before War – Arthur Noel Barnes

Not much can be found about Arthur Noel Barnes’ service record for World War I besides the basics. His service number was 2363. He was a private in the 4th battalion of the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry. And according to the Military Rolls Index Card 1914-1920, his theatre of war was France, but it doesn’t specify where exactly. In short, he was a common soldier who served his country in the early stages of the Great War in 1914. However, thanks to the various census online, there is a lot of information about his life before the outbreak of war.

Arthur Noel Barnes was born on 20 November 1881 in York. His mother and father were Jane and George Barnes. On Christmas Day of the same year, Arthur was baptised in the Anglican church of St Sampson. In 1891 the family was still living in York. Arthur had a large family; he was one of eight children. His older siblings were George (22 years old), Jane (19), Theresa (15), Edward (16), James William (13), and Walter (11). His only younger sibling was Ethel (4).

At age 19 in 1901, Arthur was living with his older brother Edward and Edward’s wife Florence, their son George (5 months old), and their niece Lydia Cockram (9). They resided in Balby with Hexthorpe. Hexthorpe is a small village just outside of Doncaster, and Balby is a suburb of Doncaster. If you’re ever riding a train heading north east to Doncaster, both areas can be seen just before the train pulls into Doncaster station. During this time living with his brother, Arthur must have met his future wife Eliza, who lived in Hexthorpe. Eliza was born on 9 December 1884 in Doncaster to her father Richard and her mother Eliza, from whom she got her name.

By 1911, Arthur and Eliza were living at 2 Union Street in Doncaster. Arthur was earning a living as a worker in Doncaster. What type of worker wasn’t listed on the 1911 census. They had three children: Lily (5), Harry (3), the new-born Fred who had just turned 2 months old at the time of the census. Only three short years later, Arthur would be serving in World War I at the age of 32. Thankfully, Arthur’s story ends on a happy note. He made it through the war and eventually returned home. He even lived to witness the Second World War. He passed away in 1954 at the old age of 74. Eliza would go on to outlive Arthur by 14 years when she passed away in 1970 at the age of 86.

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