India Relief of Chitral 1895, South Africa Boer War Relief of Kimberley, and Great War Grimsby Trawler operations and survivor of the loss of the HMT Japan August 1915 group awarded to Private A.A. Thistlewaite, 1st Battalion, later 2nd Battalion, East Kent Regiment - the Buffs, who saw service during the relief of Chitral in 1895 with the 1st Battalion, and then during the Boer War with the 2nd Battalion when he took part in the relief of Kimberley and was in action at Paardeberg and Driefontein, as well as on operations in the Transvaal, Later during the Great War he saw service as a Trimmer with the Royal Fleet Reserve in the Royal Naval Reserve Trawler Section operating from Grimsby and for a period from Shotley, and it was whilst serving aboard the trawler HMT Japan that he had a luck escape when she was sunk by a mine off the south end of the Shipwash Shoal on 16th August 1915. He spent the remainder of the war aboard the trawler HMT Juliet operating from both Shotley and Grimsby.
Group of 5: India General Service Medal 1895-1902, 1 Clasp: Relief of Chitral 1895, renamed in a period engraved running script; (PTE. ARTHUR ASCOUGH THISTLETHWAYTE. C. COY. 1ST. BATT THE BUFFS E. KENT REGT); Queen’s South Africa Medal 1899-1902, with ghost dates, 4 Clasps: Relief of Kimberley, Paardeberg, Driefontein, Transvaal; (2374 PTE A.A. THISTLETHWAITE. E. KENT REGT.); 1914-1915 Star; (T.S.231. A.A. THISTLEWAITE. TR., R.N.R.); British War Medal and Victory Medal; (231T.S. A.A. THISTLEWAITE. TR. R.N.R.)
Condition: first renamed in a period engraved running script, otherwise Very Fine.
Arthur Ascough Thistlethwaite, surnamed also spelt Thistlethwayte, was born on 3rd December 1864 in Bellerby, Yorkshire, and having worked as a fisherman, then attested for short service with the British Army at Rochester on 6th December 1887, joining as a Private (No.2374) the East Kent Regiment - the Buffs. Posted to the 1st Battalion out in India on 19th November 1889. Having been convicted and imprisoned of using violence to a superior officer on 28th May 1892, being released and returned to duty on 18th June 1892, he was then present during the operations leading to the relief of Chitral which lasted from 7th March to 15th August 1895. Thistlethwaite was in fact on active service in Chitral between 2nd April and 18th September 1895, being then posted back to India. Posted home on 4th January 1896 he wa transferred to the Army Reserve on 7th January 1896.
Mobilised on 4th December 1899 owing to the outbreak of the Boer War, he then saw service in South Africa with the 2nd Battalion from 22nd December 1899 and was present at the relief of Kimberley on 15th February 1900 and in action at Paardeberg on 17th to 26th February 1900 followed by Driefontein on 10th March 1900, before going on to see service in the Transvaal. Thistlethwaite was posted home on 9th November 1900 and discharged on 3rd February 1901.
With the outbreak of the Great War, Thistlethwaite was living in Halifax, Yorkshire, though he later moved to Grimsby, and he then enrolled into the Royal Fleet Reserve on 9th August 1914 for service as a Trimmer (No.T.S.231) with the Royal Naval Reserve Trawler Section. Serving with the depot ship Pekin at Grimsby, Thistlethwaite was posted to Ganges for service out of Shotley, and joined the trawler Japan later in August 1914. Thistlethwaite saw service aboard her till she was sunk by a mine off the south end of the Shipwash Shoal on 16th August 1915.
“The Trawlers of Grimsby” records that ‘HMT Japan was at sea with HMT Touchstone on Monday 16th August 1915 and were clearing their sweeps that afternoon off the south end of the Shipwash Shoal when a mine was observed floating 30 yards away, foul of the sweep wire. At the time, the Japan was the winch boat, heaving in the sweep. The man who was attending the winch shouted to stop heaving, but before he was heard the mine was within three yards of the vessel. Steps were taken to ease the sweep out, causing the mine to submerge and drift beneath the trawler, and 10 seconds later the vessel blew up, killing PO T. Wooldridge; 2nd Hand J. Westcott; deck hands T. Richardson, C. Wing and H. Moisey. The bodies of the latter two were picked up by HMT’s Lord Roberts and Touchstone and landed at HMS Ganges, Shotley. The mine was fresh, painted red, had five horns and was 2.5 feet in diameter. The Officer-in-Charge, Lt R. M. Harcourt RNR and Mr A. W. Barber, skipper, were held to blame for not keeping headway on the ship by using her engine. The explosion took place under the port side of the winch at a of depth 2.25 fathoms. The vessel sank in 30 seconds and the survivors were in the water for only 15 minutes, 5 crew were lost.’
Thistlethewaite was amongst the survivors and he was transferred to the trawler Juliet on 1st October 1915, before being posted with Juliet back to serve under Pekin out of Grimsby from 28th October 1916 and saw service on her till 19th June 1919. He remained in the Royal Naval Reserve till January 1924.