Two local men died on 19th October 1918 whilst on active service – Private John Freeman, 6th Battalion, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers and Signalman Edwin Herbert Hulston, Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, serving on HMS Plumpton.
Private Edmund Knight died in Belgaum (now Belagavi), India on 9th October 1918 whilst serving with the 9th Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment. He was born in Berkswell in 1888 and was the younger of the two sons of parents William (an agricultural labourer) and Harriet (née Tomes) who had married in the Rugby district in 1882.
Two men with a local connection lost their lives on 5th October 1918 whilst on active service – Lance Corporal Thomas Cox Cranmer, 1st/8th Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment was killed in France and Private Albert Victor Wiles, 11th Battalion, Worcestershire Regiment died in Salonika.
Gunner Frank Owen, 108th Siege Battery, Royal Garrison Artillery, died of wounds on 2nd October 1918. Born in Berkswell in 1882, he was the youngest of the seven children (three sons, four daughters) of parents James (a bricklayer) and Ann (née Pullen) who had married in 1862 in Annie’s home parish of Stretton on Dunsmore. James died in 1915, aged 76, so was spared the knowledge of his youngest son’s death.
Sergeant Ernest Harold Long DCM MM was killed in action on 31st May 1918 whilst serving with the 10th Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment. The battalion war diary for the day notes “Heavily shelled. Battalion compelled to withdraw about 11am under heavy barrage”.
Two local men lost their lives on 20th April 1918 whilst on active service in France – 20-year-old Private James Franklin, 10th Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment and 21-year-old Second Lieutenant Frederick Harold Hoyle of 2nd Battalion, West Yorkshire Regiment (Prince of Wales’s Own).
Two local men lost their lives on 16th April 1918 whilst on active service – Private Jim Birch, 5th Battalion, Tank Corps, and Lance Corporal Harry Moseley, 1st Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment.
Sapper Harry Beacham, 126th Field Company, Royal Engineers, was killed in action on 24th March 1918. He was the eldest of three children and the only surviving 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.
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”