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
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.
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.
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.
Four local men lost their lives on 31st July 1917, the opening day of the Third Battle of Ypres (also known as Passchendaele, after the surrounding village and ridge). The offensive lasted until the village was taken on 6th November 1917, at a cost of some 310,000 British casualties, and over 260,000 German casualties.
Our local casualties on the first day, the Battle of Pilckem Ridge were:
- Captain Eric Belfield, 4th Battalion, Middlesex Regiment
- Private Rudolph Lawley, 2nd Battalion, Royal Berkshire Regiment
- Private Joseph James Lines, 10th Battalion, Queen’s Own (Royal West Kent Regiment)
- Private Joseph Savage, 1st Battalion, Coldstream Guards
Having no known grave, all of them are commemorated on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial