31st August 1916

Two men with a connection to the Solihull area died on 31st August 1916: Second Lieutenant John Cane Crawford, Royal Horse Artillery, was killed in action, aged 18, just two months after arriving at the Front; Captain John Wilmshurst Granger Smith, South Staffordshire Regiment was also killed in action on the same day.

The local connection is that John Cane Crawford’s family lived for a time in Hampton-in-Arden. John Smith lived in Acocks Green but was a member of Olton Cricket Club.

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29th August 1916

36-year-old Private Thomas Walter Haynes, 4th Battalion King’s (Liverpool) Regiment, and 22-year-old Corporal Horace Timmins, 15th Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment (1st Birmingham Pals) both died on 29th August 1916.

Both men were born in Birmingham, although Thomas Haynes was living in Knowle before joining the Army. Horace Timmins’ local connection is that he spent time living at Marston Green Cottage Homes where his mother, Emma, was a foster mother.

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27th August 1916

Lance Corporal Frederick Edwin Hollis, ‘C’ Company, 1st/8th Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment was born in Packwood in 1890 and died on 27th August 1916.

He was initially reported missing, and there was an announcement in Knowle parish magazine in August 1917 suggesting he was a prisoner of war. In fact, he had been killed on 27th August 1916 in the attack on the German “Constance trench” (so named by Australian troops), which ran near Mouquet Farm (apparently known to the British as “Mucky Farm” and to the Australians as “Moo-cow Farm”). The farm was completely destroyed by three weeks of fighting and had to be completely rebuilt after the war.

Zero-hour on 27th August was 7pm, when the field artillery would commence an intense shrapnel barrage on the front of the attack, and ‘C’ and ‘D’ companies mounting ladders from their trench, advancing up to the barrage. At zero plus five, the barrage would lift to allow the leading wave to enter the enemy trenches. The Battalion War Diary reports that ‘C’ Company reached its objective but was heavily bombed and forced to retire, suffering heavy losses in the process. (Information from unpublished research by the late Alan Tucker).

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25th August 1916

Berkswell-born Rifleman John Timms, 7th Battalion, King’s Royal Rifle Corps, died of wounds in hospital in France on 25th August 1916, aged 19, and is buried at Dernancourt Communal Cemetery Extension, France. He is also commemorated locally on Berkswell war memorial. An employee of the Rover works before the war, he enlisted in the Army in November 1915, five days after his 19th birthday, and embarked for France on 18th April 1916, just over four months before he was fatally wounded.

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21st August 1916

Private Bertram Matthews, 1st/7th Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment, died on 21st August 1916 and is buried at Blighty Valley Cemetery, Authuille Wood, France. Born in Walsall, he was baptised alongside his older brother, Harry on 24th November 1878 at St Mark’s Church, Birmingham. Their father’s occupation was given as “traveller” and their abode was 9 Bridgeman Street, Walsall. By 1881, the family had moved to Aston, and they then moved to Olton c. 1885.

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20th August 1916

31-year-old Private Alfred Knibb was killed in action on 20th August 1916 serving with the 1st/9th Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment. He was born in 1885 in the parish of Tanworth-in-Arden and was the 9th child and youngest son of parents Edwin and Ellen (née Keen). The couple had married in 1867 in Knowle and went on to have 12 children, of whom 11 (five sons, six daughters) were still living by the time of the 1911 census.

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19th August 1916

19-year-old Christopher Henry Cranmer died of wounds in Salonika on 19th August 1916 whilst serving as a Corporal with the 7th Battalion Oxford & Bucks Light Infantry. On the same day, Lance Corporal Arthur Busby died of wounds in France whilst serving with the 1st/5th Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment.

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18th August 1916

Three local men died on 18th August 1916: Private James Samuel Hopkins (Worcester Regiment, attached to the Royal Warwickshire Regiment); Private Herbert John Massey (6th Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment); and Private William Henry Bolton (6th Battalion, Duke of Edinburgh’s (Wiltshire) Regiment). All three were gardeners by trade, although James Samuel Hopkins had previously been a soldier in the militia and served in the Boer War.

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