Brothers in arms during World War One

There were many brothers in arms during World War One as voluntary joining increased at the start of the war and then conscription was enforced from 1916 onwards.

Three brothers from Ilkley in England’s West Yorkshire joined World War One troops to serve for their country, each having a different experience in different regiments.

Tom, Arnold and Arthur Dean were from a large family with seven children.

Arnold was the eldest of the three at 24 when World War One began. He joined the 5th West Yorkshire Territorials and later became a Lieutenant. He survived the war.

Arthur, the middle brother at 20, joined the West Riding Rifles and went to fight in Europe in July 1915. He later transferred to the 4th Battalion, East Yorkshire Regiment. Unfortunately Arthur was killed in battle in 1917 and is buried along with thousands of other soldiers at Croisilles Cemetery.

Arthur was honoured with the Distinguished Conduct Medal for his role in the heavy fighting at the Yser Canal near Ypres, in Belgium’s north west.

Tom was the youngest brother at 17 years old. He was a volunteer with the local territorial artillery and went to Europe to fight in 1915. He later joined the Ilkley Battery and survived the war.

During World War One name changing was common. Men did not want to be sent to the front, given the mass slaughter that was happening, or they had suspicious names of German descent and yet still wanted to fight.

This is what happened to the Steinthal brothers.

Paul Cuthbert Steinthal changed his surname to Petrie in order to be able to lead the Ilkley Battery of the Royal Artillery. Records show that he was the Commanding Officer, but before they left for the front he was investigated by military officials who found out his real name, which originated from German descent, the Telegraph and Argus reports.

Major Petrie was allowed to return to his post after the investigation and went on to fight under his new name. His brother Francis Eric Steinthal did exactly the same taking the name Petrie so that he could serve in the Royal Fusiliers.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE