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.
Rifleman Henry Godson, 7th Battalion, Rifle Brigade was killed in action on 26th August 1917. Born in Hampton-in-Arden in 1892, Henry had moved to Birmingham by 1901 and volunteered for the Army on 29th August 1914, less than a month after the outbreak of war.
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.
Four local men died on 22nd August 1917: Corporal Alfred John Collins, 2nd/4th Battalion, Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry; Private Charles Edmund Frost, 6th Battalion, Somerset Light Infantry; Private Albert Maybury, 2/4th Battalion, Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry; and Private Frederick George Skidmore, 1st/7th Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment. The first three have no known grave and so they are commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial.
Two local officers died on 15th August 1917 – Lieutenant John Howard Banks, 176th Company, Machine Gun Corps and Lieutenant Holroyd Birkett Barker, 134th Siege Battery, Royal Garrison Artillery.
Private William Batsford, 11th Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment died on 12th August 1917. Born in Knowle, he was living in Northfield, Birmingham when he enlisted in the Army. He was the third of the eight children (four sons, four daughters) of parents William (a carpenter and joiner) and Emma (née Turner) who had married in 1879. Two of the children, Emily (1889-1890) and John Henry (1890-1892), died as infants.
23-year-old Private James Howard Watts, 11th Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment, was killed in action on 11th August 1917. He was the elder of the two children of parents Stephen Howard and Catherine (née Hodgkinson) who had married in Birmingham between January-March 1893. James and his sister, Kate Elizabeth, had five half-siblings from their mother’s first marriage to Thomas Ripley (1856-1890) – Margaret, Ferdinand(o) (1886-1964), Elsie, Agnes and Thomas.
The two boys also served in the First World War. Ferdinando served as a Sapper in the Royal Engineers, whilst Thomas was a private in the Royal Warwickshire Regiment, serving at home with the 6th (Reserve) Battalion from 2nd November 1914 until being discharged unfit on 2nd August 1916 as a result of valvular heart disease, which he had had for some six years.
19-year-old Private Hubert Simpson was killed in action on 10th August 1917, serving with the 11th Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment. He was born in Birmingham in 1898, and was the youngest of the two children born to parents Joseph (a machinist) and Emily (née Davis) who had married at St Paul’s Church, Birmingham in October 1886. Their eldest child, Clarisse, was born in 1895.
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).