23-year-old Second Lieutenant Arthur George Ansell, 1st Field Survey Company, Royal Engineers, died of gas poisoning in No. 8 Red Cross Hospital, Boulogne, France on 25th April 1918, after being gassed at Passchendaele. He was the eldest of the three children of parents Arthur John (an agent for the Prudential Assurance Company at Solihull) and Emma (née Lynes) who had married in Notting Hill in 1893. Arthur John Ansell was a widower – his first wife, Kate Purvey (1867-1892) had died in childbirth in 1892, after just one year of marriage.
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.
Private Richard Bradburn, 1st Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment, was killed in action on 15th April 1918. He was the first of two brothers to be killed, as his younger brother, Harry Matthew Bradburn, died on 23rd October 1918.
Four local men lost their lives on 14th April 1918 whilst on active service. Private George Bellamy, Labour Corps; Gunner Francis Thomas East, 83rd Battery, 11th Brigade, Royal Field Artillery, Lance Corporal Walter Mucklow, 4th Battalion Worcestershire Regiment and Private John Tonks, 2nd/7th Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment.
Two local men died on active service on 12th April 1918 – 20-year-old Private James Prentice, 1st Battalion, Wiltshire Regiment and 19-year-old Lance Bombardier Harvey Walter Watts, 378th Battery, 169th Brigade, Royal Field Artillery.
Two local men died on 10th April 1918. Second Lieutenant Percival Horace Batchelor, Royal Warwickshire Regiment attd. 2nd/6th Bn. North Staffordshire Regiment and Private Thomas Teerheege, 3rd Battalion, Worcestershire Regiment.
Private Arthur Noel Cox, 20th Hussars was killed in action on 1st April 1918. He was the youngest of 12 children of whom three had died by 1911. One of Arthur’s brothers – Edward John Cox, a regular soldier – had died in 1915 of illness, after being involved in the ‘Wayfarer incident’.
Private Horace William Bevins, 2nd/5th Gloucestershire Regiment, died on 31st March 1918, aged 19. One of his older brothers, George Frederick, born 1896, had died in 1915, serving with the Royal Marine Light Infantry. Another brother, Albert Edward, born 1894, died on 17th November 1916.
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”