Sapper Harry Beacham, 126th Field Company, Royal Engineers, was killed in action on 24th March 1918. He was the eldest and only son of parents Alfred (a bricklayer) and Emma (née Whitehead) of Allesley, Coventry. His younger brother, Walter, died in 1888, aged under one year. His sister, Dorothy (1891-1986) died at the age of 94.
Four local men were killed on 23rd March 1918:
- Private Sidney Bickley, 1st Battalion, Royal Berkshire Regiment
- Private Clark(e) Middleton, 5th Battalion, Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry
- Private Harry Prentice, 11th Battalion, 11th Battalion, The Queen’s (Royal West Surrey Regiment)
- Private Albert White, 10th Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment
Two local casualties lost their lives on active service on 22nd March 1918. Private Edward Vernon Barker, 10th Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment, and Private Joseph Beecham, 2nd/6th Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment.
Nine local men lost their lives on the first day of the German Spring Offensive (Operation Michael), which saw British troops subjected to one of the longest artillery bombardments of the war. Lasting for five hours from 4:20am, the barrage of over one million artillery shells smashed vital communication lines, and was followed by waves of elite German troops coming over No Man’s Land, which was shrouded in thick fog. The Germans made swift and significant gains, with the British suffering some 50,000 casualties. British troops were ordered to withdraw, giving up much of the Somme region. However, it was not a decisive defeat, and the British were able to establish new lines of defence, whilst the rapid advance caused German supply lines to become overextended. Continue reading “21st March 1918”
Private (Acting Corporal) Arthur Llewellyn Cooper, 6th Field Ambulance, Royal Army Medical Corps, died of wounds on 19th March 1918 after having been gassed. He was born in Acocks Green in 1897 and was the second of the three children of parents John (an upholsterer) and Mary Elizabeth (née Llewellyn) who had married in 1895.
Second Lieutenant John Drummond Wyatt-Smith, 28th Squadron, Royal Flying Corps, died in a flying accident in northern Italy, just a few days after joining the squadron. His plane stalled on take off, nose dived and then crashed to earth. Known as Jack, he was 19 years old, and was the second of two brothers to die on active service. His older brother, Hugh, died of appendicitis on 17th February 1916 after falling ill whilst on embarkation leave.
Gunner Alfred Bartlett, aged 40, died on 16th March 1918 whilst serving at Boyton Camp, Wiltshire with the 4th “B” Reserve Brigade, Royal Field Artillery. He was born in 1877 in Stow-on-the-Wold and was the third of the ten children of parents George and Elizabeth (née Webb) who had married in Elizabeth’s home parish of Great Rollright, Oxfordshire in 1871.
Ordinary Seaman William Charles Edward Hadland died of acute nephritis [inflammation of the kidneys] at the Royal Naval Hospital Gosport on 10th March 1918. He had enlisted less than a month previously and was in training on HMS Victory when he became ill.
Private Geoffrey Jinks, aged 25, died of illness on 2nd March 1918. He was serving with the 2nd/8th Battalion Worcestershire Regiment, but was transferred to the 288th Area Employment Company, Labour Corps.