No.6714 Private Arthur Thomas Butt
Arthur Thomas Butt was born on 20 August 1894 at Eldorado, about 20 kilometres north east of Wangaratta in Victoria. Despite its place in Victoria’s gold mining history as one of the richest alluvial goldfields in the state, Eldorado was first named for its rich pasture. Gold was discovered there in the 1850s and the area was mined for just on 100 years.
A year before the war broke out in 1913, Arthur married May Mansfield in Albury. When war was declared in August 1914, the young couple were living in Albury, New South Wales almost on the Victorian border, where Arthur worked as a butcher.
He enlisted in the army at Cootamundra, New South Wales on 3 November 1916. A strapping 6' 1" in the 'old scale', 6714 Private Arthur Butt was assigned to the 22nd Reinforcements, 7th Battalion, AIF. By this stage of the war, the battalion had already suffered heavy casualties…first at Gallipoli in 1915 and in the Somme in July and August 1916.
Barely two weeks after enlisting, Private Butt was aboard the SS Port Napier that left Sydney on 11 November 1916. It arrived at Devonport – the huge British naval base in Plymouth which is still in operation today – in late January 1917. Arthur and his mates were assigned to a training battalion at Durrington on the eastern edge of the Salisbury Plains in Wiltshire. On 13 May 1917, he was sent to France and was taken on strength with the 7th Battalion.
By this stage, the Battalion had been withdrawn from the front line for training at Biefvillers near Bapaume. The battalion had been based in the trenches at Bullecourt some 16 kilometres to the north east, but the war diary described it as a 'lucky time' having suffered just four casualties during its most recent tour. Although not mentioned by name, Private Arthur Thomas Butt’s arrival does receive a mention in the war diary on 13 May as "one o.r. (other rank) from 2nd Bn".
The Battalion continued to train until it was sent to Belgium in mid-September 1917 as part of the Third Battle of Ypres. It participated in major actions at Menin Road and Broodseinde before the offensive petered out in November. Australians suffered around 38,000 casualties in the eight week campaign, having also fought at Polygon Wood, Poelcappelle and the first battle of Passchendaele. The conditions had been dreadful. Intense periods of rain and the constant shelling by both sides that destroyed the natural drainage systems of the region turned the Ypres battlefields into an impassable sea of mud.
In early 1918, the 7th Battalion was back in the thick of the action when it faced the Germans during their spring offensive of April and May. It was during this battle that 6714 Private Arthur Thomas Butt was killed in action near Borre in France. The battalion war diary says on the day that he was killed it had been 'very quiet'. Despite this, two other soldiers were also killed and two wounded on the same day.
Arthur Butt is buried at Borre British Cemetery (Plot 2, Row B, No 17.), three kilometres east of Hazebrouck in France.
Medals and Entitlements
[received by his widow and young son, Arthur Herbert Butt]
- King’s Message and Memorial plaque
- British War Medal
- Victory Medal
Service record citation: NAA: B2455, BUTT ARTHUR THOMAS
7th Battalion war diaries, Australian War Memorial
7th Battalion history, Australian War Memorial