‘My dad went off to the First World War aged just 13’

Arthur Brown
Arthur Brown

Proud Bostonian Deana Rivett had an extra reason to support Boston’s First World War Centenary Memorial Appeal – as she honoured the memory of her father who ran away fight in the war aged just 13.

Arthur Brown ran away to Portsmouth to join the Royal Navy in 1914 and worked as stoker throughout the war, mainly in Russia and the port of Vladivostok.

His service record states his height as five feet four-and-a-half inches but despite his size and young age he came through the brutality of the war unscathed returning home with the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.

Deana said after leaving school in Staffordshire her father (pictured) did not want to follow his two brothers and work down the mines. He worked briefly as a builder’s labourer before running off to sea.

“After a short while he wrote home to his mother to say he didn’t like it and could she get him out. She replied to say he’d made his bed and now he’d have to lie in it,” said Deana. “He wrote home to say how cold it was in Vladivostok. The ground was so icebound and frozen they couldn’t even bury their dead.”

Despite being only a boy he returned home from the war bearing a tattoo of a crown.

Work after the war laying pipelines brought him to Lincolnshire. The same impetuousness which had seen him run away to war at 13 saw him propose marriage to a girl over the garden fence at his lodgings in Spalding.

“There had been no courtship, just friendly chats. He told her his work was taking him to Wales so why didn’t they get married and she could go with him. So they did,” said Deana who, with her four sisters and two brothers, were a product of that union.

During the Second World War Arthur was a fire warden in London during the blitz.

“Eventually we settled in Boston, where I was born. I have always lived here and wouldn’t want to live anywhere else. I donated to the appeal fund because it’s for my town,” said Deana.

Award-winning blacksmith Tim Mackereth, of Anwick Forge near Sleaford, has been commissioned to design, build and install two memorial benches in Boston’s Memorial Gardens. There will be an official unveiling and dedication event on Monday, August 4.

Boston Borough Council, Boston and District Branch of the Royal British Legion, Boston Branch of the Royal Air Force Association, Canal Zoners and the Boston Veterans Memorial Plaque Committee are appealing to all to make a contribution, no matter how small, to help commemorate the event in Boston.

Contact Andrew Malkin at Boston Borough Council on 01205 314308 or email andrew.malkin@boston.gov.uk – if you plan to hold an event or have a special reason to donate.

You can pay using a debit or credit card, cheque or cash and all donations will be recorded on a public roll of honour.