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.
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”
Second Lieutenant Ralph Thomas Boddington, 1st/10th Battalion, London Regiment, was killed in action in Palestine on 2nd November 1917. He was born in Selly Park, Birmingham, on 8th June 1883 and was the seventh of the ninth children (four sons, three daughters) of woollen merchant, Samuel and his wife Elizabeth Mary (née Pask Hughes), who had married in 1872. Ralph was the second of their sons to die on active service. Their youngest child, Guy Livingston Boddington, was killed in action on 19th December 1916.
Two local men were killed in action on 30th October 1917, both of whom were serving with the Canadian Infantry and both are commemorated on the Menin Gate, having no known grave. The two men were Private Frank Everard Harrison, and Private Aubrey John Kirby.
Gunner William Henry Eagles, aged 25, died on 28th October 1917 whilst serving with the 145th Heavy Battery, Royal Garrison Artillery. He was born in Berkswell in 1892 and was the fifth of the nine children of parents, Henry (a railway platelayer) and Annie Elizabeth (née Joyce), who had married at Berkswell in 1884.
Nine local men lost their lives on 4th October 1917 whilst on active service:
- Lance Corporal Edwin John Adams, 14th Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment
- Private Eric Ashley Ellis, 13th Company, Machine Gun Corps (Infantry)
- Sergeant Charles Haynes, 1st/5th Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment
- Second Lieutenant Albert Bertini Heywood, 10th Battalion, King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry
- Private Lewis James Knight, 30th Battalion, Australian Infantry
- Lance Corporal George Henry Pegg, 1st/6th Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment
- Private William Savage, 1st Battalion, Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry
- Private William Thomas Tropman, 1st/8th Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment
- Gunner Arthur Whinfrey, 256th Siege Battery, Royal Garrison Artillery
Two local men died on 29th September 1917 whilst on active service with the Royal Field Artillery. Corporal Harry Proctor, 94th Battery, 18th Brigade, died of wounds and Second Lieutenant Walter Sutton Rotherham MM, A Battery, 83rd Brigade, was killed in action.
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