20th September 1917

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

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24th August 1917

Private Thomas Duffin, 1st/5th Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment, died on 24th August 1917, aged 38. He was born in Packwood in 1879 and was the third of the eight children born to parents Thomas, an agricultural labourer, and Jane (née Kirby) who had married at Packwood in 1873 when Thomas (senior), a widower, was aged 48 and Jane was 19.

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3rd August 1917

On 3rd August 1917, Second Lieutenant Roger Paul Hepburn M.C. died in Ypres at Casualty Clearing Station, no 10, of wounds received in action serving with the Royal Engineers (30th Signal Company, attached. 21st Infantry Brigade). He was 24 years old, and had enlisted in the Army on the day war broke out, driving through the night with two friends on their motorcycles, who offered themselves as despatch riders for service with the expeditionary force. The group didn’t ask permission to go, simply leaving a note to say they had gone. Roger served for eight months at the front in this capacity, before being commissioned with the Royal Engineers and returning to the Front in November 1915 after training as a signaller. His two friends – T. Daish and J. N. Perks – both survived the war.

The local connection is that Roger was educated at Packwood Haugh School, in the Solihull rural district, between 1905-1911, when he joined Rugby School before studying natural sciences at Magdalen College, Cambridge, and taking his degree in June 1914. Whilst at Cambridge, he was also a member of the Officer Training Corps (OTC).

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24th June 1917

Three local men are known to have lost their lives on 24th June 1917 whilst on active service: Second Lieutenant Rupert Edward Everitt, 299th Siege Battery, Royal Garrison Artillery; Private William James Leake, 1st/7th Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment; and Gunner Henry Smith, 207th Siege Battery, Royal Garrison Artillery.

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30th April 1917

Private Sidney William Dawes, 11th Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment, was killed in action on 30th April 1917. He was born in Knowle in 1893 and was the youngest of the ten children (seven sons, three daughters) of parents Robert (a nurseryman) and Mary Annie (née Field) who had married in 1871.

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15th September 1916

Four local men are known to have died on 15th September 1916 as a result of their war service: Private Edmund Dixon, Coldstream Guards, was killed in action and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial, as are Rifleman Arthur McKenzie, King’s Royal Rifle Corps and Captain Eric King Parsons, Rifle Brigade. Lieutenant Euan Louis Mylne MC, 2nd Battalion Irish Guards also died of wounds on the same day.

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5th July 1916

Private Walter Charles Taylor of “C” Company, 7th Battalion, the South Lancashire Regiment died on 5th July 1916. He was recorded by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission as being 18 years old, although his service record gives his age on enlistment on 23rd April 1915 as 19 years and three days. It seems that he lied about his age as, although 18-year-olds could enlist, soldiers couldn’t serve overseas until they had reached the age of 19.

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