Four local men serving with the Royal Warwickshire Regiment are known to have died on 30th July 1916 whilst on active service; Olton resident, Private William Dobson, 14th Battalion; Private Howard John Hutchinson, formerly of Shirley, (14th Battalion); Private William John Lawley of Shirley (10th Battaltion) and Solihull resident, Lance Corporal John Manning (14th Battalion). Also killed was Meriden’s Lieutenant Reginald Ernest Melly, The King’s (Liverpool Regiment). Four of them have no known grave and are commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial. Private Hutchinson was also recorded on the Thiepval Memorial but is now buried at the London Cemetery and Extension, Longueval.
Lance Corporal Peter Thompson, of Chadwick End, was killed in action on 29th July 1916 serving with the 10th Battalion Duke of Wellington’s (West Riding Regiment). He was born in Chadwick End on 19th October 1886 and baptised at Temple Balsall on 12th December 1886. His parents were William (a labourer from Knowle) and Hannah (née Woodcock, born in Baddesley Clinton). They had married in 1873 and initially seem to have set up home in Birmingham, moving from Bordesley to Harborne between 1878 and 1881. They lived in Chadwick End from at least 1886 until 1911 and had five children of whom two had died by 1911.
Oxfordshire-born Rifleman George Savage was killed in action on 28th July 1916 serving with the King’s Royal Rifle Corps. Born in Hook Norton in 1895, George was the third of six children born to parents John Embra Savage and his wife, Jane (née Radbourn). The couple’s sixth child, Hilda Annie, was born towards the end of 1904, the same year that her mother died so it seems likely that Jane died in childbirth. Hilda died early in 1905.
George’s father died in 1910 and, by 1911, 16-year-old farm labourer George had moved to Warwickshire and was living in Braggs Farm Lane, Dickens Heath, with his aunt and uncle, Jane Mary and Tom Henry Savage.
Fragments of George’s service record have survived. He enlisted in the Army on 26th October 1915 and was in the UK until embarking for France on 17th March 1916 where he served until his death just over four months later. In May 1916 he was placed on a charge for using insubordinate language to his superior officer. One of the fragments of paper in the service file seem to relate to a different soldier, as they suggest a birth in 1884 (11 years earlier than “our” George) as well as a marriage in 1905 (when George would only have been ten years old) and four children, the eldest born in 1908 (when George would have been 13).
Other fragments in the service record show that George’s eldest brother, John Henry, wrote to the War Office asking for details of the circumstances of George’s death. John also provided details of his siblings on the next-of-kin form. He listed:
- John Henry Savage, aged 30, The Green, Meriden
- Ted [Edwin] Savage, aged 28, 9 Kingsland Road, Canton, Cardiff
- Thomas Savage, aged 23, Lower Eastern Green, Coventry
- Nellie [Selina Ellen] Savage, aged 21, 54 Middleton Rd, Banbury
Rifleman George Savage was killed on an otherwise quiet day, when his battalion relieved the 15th Welsh Regiment in the front line trenches. He is buried at Hebuterne Communal Cemetery, and is also commemorated locally on the war memorial at St Patrick’s Church, Salter Street. His name is also recorded on the Hook Norton war memorial.
If you have any further information about the family, please let us know.
Heritage & Local Studies Librarian
tel.: 0121 704 6977
18-year-old Private Clarence Alfred Sinclair Smith died on 27th July 1916, serving as a Private with “B” Company, 16th Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment. He was born in Knowle on 27th June 1898, and baptised at Knowle parish church on 14th August 1898. His father, Alfred, was listed as an insurance agent and the family was living at Kenilworth Road, Knowle.
On 27th July 1916, two local men lost their lives whilst serving in France. Private William Webb, from Hockley Heath, serving with 17th Battalion Middlesex Regiment, and Private Walter Henry Percival Wright, from Shirley, serving with 16th Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment (3rd Birmingham Pals).
21-year-old James Enoch Smith died on 25th July 1916, serving as a Private with the Royal Warwickshire Regiment. He was the eldest of five children, and seems to have been named after his father, James Smith, a platelayer on the railway, and his maternal grandfather, Enoch Harvey, a bricklayer. His paternal grandfather, also James Smith, was also a platelayer on the railway.
James Enoch’s parents, James Smith and Florence Mary Harvey, married at St Peter’s Church, Bickenhill on 15th May 1894. James Enoch was born in Bickenhill the following year and, by 1901, the family was living in Marston Green. By 1911, the family had moved to Bradnock’s Marsh, Hampton-in-Arden, although James Enoch was not with his parents and siblings in the family home. We haven’t been able to find him elsewhere on the 1911 census so, if you have any further information, please let us know.
We don’t know when James Enoch Smith enlisted in the Army but he didn’t see service overseas before 1916 as he wasn’t entitled to a 1914 or 1914/15 Star. He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial. He is also commemorated locally on war memorials at Bickenhill and Marston Green.
If you have any further information, please let us know.
Heritage & Local Studies Librarian
tel.: 0121 704 6977
11 local men lost their lives on 23rd July 1916, eight of them whilst serving with the 14th (1st Birmingham) Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment (1st Birmingham Pals), and one from the 15th Battalion (2nd Birmingham Pals).
Unpublished research by the late Alan Tucker gives the following summary of the day as regards the 14th Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment:
At 10pm on 22nd July, the 14th Battalion joined in an attack on Wood Lane, with High Wood on their left. This was part of a general British attack from Guillemont to Pozieres. There was to be a five and a half hour bombardment of the German lines, with two hour concentrated shelling of the German front line before zero hour. At 10 minutes to zero, the attacking troops were to advance under the cover of an artillery barrage until they were close to the German line, and then to lie down and wait for the barrage to lift at zero. All ranks were warned: ‘hesitation is fatal… a quick bayonet charge is certain to have the required effect.’
At 9.55pm, the Germans opened ‘overwhelming machine gun and infantry fire’ and British troops were ‘cut to bits’.
Two companies from the 15th Battalion were later sent in to support the right flank of the attack, but they lost their way and were not used.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission debt of honour website records 184 casualties from the 14th Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment on 22nd/23rd July, which Alan Tucker’s research suggests was the largest number of casualties for the regiment since that of the 1/8 Battalion on the first day of the Somme. Our local casualties on 23rd July 1916 were:
- Lance Corporal Thomas Reginald Hanson MM, from Olton (14th Bn)
- Lance Corporal Charles Victor Jones, from Hampton-in-Arden (14th Bn) (whose brother, Collins, had died in the same action on the previous day)
- Lance Corporal Bernard Robert Lewis, from Shirley (15th Bn)
- Company Serjeant Major Robert Malin, from Hampton-in-Arden (14th Bn)
- Private Stuart Orford Nickson, from Solihull (14th Bn)
- Private John Nix, from Knowle (14th Bn)
- Private Charles Gordon Troman, from Solihull (14th Bn)
- Private Stanley Arthur Vint, from Olton (14th Bn)
- Private Frederick John Wyatt, from Castle Bromwich (14th Bn)
In addition, there were two local casualties serving with other regiments:
- Lance Corporal Thomas Harry Everard Allman, from Olton (Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry)
- Private William Walter Harris, from Salter Street (Gloucestershire Regiment)
Lance Corporal Collins Jeffreys (sometimes Jeffries) Jones was killed in action during attacks on High Wood, on the Somme, on 22nd July 1916 whilst serving with the 14th Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment. His older brother, Charles Victor Jones, also a Lance Corporal in the Royal Warwickshire Regiment, was killed in the same action on the following day.
Two local men lost their lives on 21st July 1916 – 23-year-old Private Dick Neale, 14th Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment, and 19-year-old Second Lieutenant Rowland Murray Wilson-Browne, 12th Squadron, Royal Flying Corps, who was an old boy of Solihull School.