Three local men are recorded as having been killed on 21st September 1917, the second day of the Battle of Menin Road Ridge: Private Arthur Paget, 10th Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment; Private William Skidmore, 8th Battalion, Gloucestershire Regiment; Lance Corporal Thomas Wells, East Surrey Regiment.
Five local men were killed in action on 20th September 1917. This was the first day of the Battle of the Menin Road Ridge, which lasted until 25th September and marked a change in British infantry tactics.
Although previous attacks had penetrated the lightly-defended German front lines, exhausted troops then came under sustained counter-attack and failed to penetrate the second line. The new strategy was designed to attack a small part of the front line, first with heavy bombardment, and then by troops in strength under a creeping barrage 1000 yards deep, protecting the advancing infantry. Once through the lines and having reached their objectives, troops were then to stop and dig in. A second wave of infantry could then pass through to attack the next objective.
Local men who lost their lives in this action were:
- Private Richard Sydney Greaves, 6th Battalion, Wiltshire Regiment
- Private Thomas Henry Lloyd, 10th Battalion, Worcestershire Regiment
- Sergeant Septimus Price, 6th Battalion, Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry
- Corporal Percy John Shirley, 10th Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment
- Sergeant Harry Taylor, 10th Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment
Private Samuel Chew, 5th Battalion Berkshire Regiment, died of wounds on 17th September 1917. He was born in Birmingham in 1898 and was the youngest of the three children of parents, Richard (a hawker of salt) and Ada (née Wood). He had an older sister Annie (1893-1925) and an older brother, Richard (1895-1954).
Second Lieutenant David Kitto Billings, Royal Flying Corps, died, aged 23, in a flying accident near Water Orton on 14th September 1917. He was described in newspaper reports as a Canadian attached to the Australian Flying Corps and he died as a result of one of the pins in his leather safety belt breaking, causing one end of the belt to fly open and the aviator to fall out of the plane from a height of 1,500-2000 feet.
You have until the 27th September 2017 to visit the Heritage Gallery on the first floor of the Core Library, Solihull to see the Village People exhibition.
Rifleman Charles James Skidmore, 17th Battalion, King’s Royal Rifle Corps died of wounds on 6th September 1917. He was born in Olton in 1894, and was the seventh of the 10 children (four sons, six daughters) of parents Frederick William (a gardener) and Ellen (née Cleaver). Eldest son, John, died in April 1880, aged 16 days. The family lived in the Solihull area from about 1880-1895, before moving to Willicote, Stratford-upon-Avon.
21-year-old Private Alfred Richardson of Shirley, Solihull, was killed in action on 4th September 1917, serving with the 2nd/8th Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment.
Lieutenant Harry Osborne Hackett, 16th Battalion Welsh Regiment, died of wounds on 28th August 1917, aged 22. He was promoted to full Lieutenant on the day he died, having been commissioned Second Lieutenant in December 1914 after initially enlisting in the ranks of the Army Service Corps. He was born in Birmingham on 4th September 1894 and attended Wellesbourne School, Acocks Green before joining Solihull School (Acocks Green House).
Private George Neville from Castle Bromwich was killed in action on 27th August 1917, serving with the 1st/6th Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment. He was born in Sheldon in 1896 and was the youngest of the five children (four sons, one daughter) of parents Charles (a shepherd) and Jane (née Bourton) who had married in 1882.