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
Private Samuel Capewell, 2nd Battalion Scots Guards, was killed in action on 15th July 1917. He was born in Birmingham on 17th February 1877, and was the eighth of the nine children (seven sons, two daughters) of parents William (a painter) and Hannah (née Jones) who had married at All Saints, Hockley, Birmingham in 1859.
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.
On 28th May 1917 40-year-old George Dipple, a former groom, was killed in action whilst serving as a Gunner with 296th Siege Battery, Royal Garrison Artillery. Born in Ullenhall, he was the third of four children born to parents John (an agricultural labourer) and Martha (née Wiggett) who had married at Ullenhall in 1870.
Three local men lost their lives in France and Italy on 4th May 1917 – Acting Sergeant Thomas Alfred Johnson MM, 76th Field Ambulance, Royal Army Medical Corps; Private George Thomas Perkins, 2nd Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment; and Private John Henry Vernon, 1st/4th Battalion, Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry.
Three local men lost their lives in France on 28th April 1917 – Private Albert Cooper, 2nd/5th Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment; Private Fred Bernard Pardington, Royal Marine Light Infantry; and Private Alfred Smith, 11th Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment.
Eight local men were killed in action on 3rd September 1916 whilst serving with the Royal Warwickshire Regiment in France. Unpublished research by the late Alan Tucker describes the 14th Battalion in assault positions near Angle Wood at 2am on 3rd September, ready for an attack towards Falfemont Farm. The farm was on high ground overlooking the Allied positions and was a German fortified strong point immediately in front of the German trenches.
The attack began at 9am with an assault by the 2nd Battalion King’s Own Scottish Borderers. It faltered quickly as there was no protective barrage to provide cover, and German machine guns cut down the soldiers 500 yards from the front of the farm. The 14th Battalion Royal Warwicks joined the attack, with the 15th Battalion joining in at about 1pm. The men who had survived were relieved at midnight, and the farm was finally taken on 5th September by the 1st Cheshires and 1st Bedfords. By this time, no part of the farm was left standing.
None of our eight local Royal Warwicks casualties killed in this action has a known grave and all are commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial.
- Private Archibald Henry Brown, 15th Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment
- Lance Corporal Hugo Buckley, 16th Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment
- Private Rowland Hill Burgess, 15th Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment
- Lance Corporal Henry Wood Doble, 15th Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment
- Private Oliver Robert Foreshew, 2nd Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment
- Private Garnet Smith, 15th Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment
- Private Henry Troman, 15th Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment
- Private Frederick George Wilsdon, 14th Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment
Oxfordshire-born Rifleman George Savage was killed in action on 28th July 1916 serving with the King’s Royal Rifle Corps. Born in Hook Norton in 1895, George was the third of six children born to parents John Embra Savage and his wife, Jane (née Radbourn). The couple’s sixth child, Hilda Annie, was born towards the end of 1904, the same year that her mother died so it seems likely that Jane died in childbirth. Hilda died early in 1905.
George’s father died in 1910 and, by 1911, 16-year-old farm labourer George had moved to Warwickshire and was living in Braggs Farm Lane, Dickens Heath, with his aunt and uncle, Jane Mary and Tom Henry Savage.
Fragments of George’s service record have survived. He enlisted in the Army on 26th October 1915 and was in the UK until embarking for France on 17th March 1916 where he served until his death just over four months later. In May 1916 he was placed on a charge for using insubordinate language to his superior officer. One of the fragments of paper in the service file seem to relate to a different soldier, as they suggest a birth in 1884 (11 years earlier than “our” George) as well as a marriage in 1905 (when George would only have been ten years old) and four children, the eldest born in 1908 (when George would have been 13).
Other fragments in the service record show that George’s eldest brother, John Henry, wrote to the War Office asking for details of the circumstances of George’s death. John also provided details of his siblings on the next-of-kin form. He listed:
- John Henry Savage, aged 30, The Green, Meriden
- Ted [Edwin] Savage, aged 28, 9 Kingsland Road, Canton, Cardiff
- Thomas Savage, aged 23, Lower Eastern Green, Coventry
- Nellie [Selina Ellen] Savage, aged 21, 54 Middleton Rd, Banbury
Rifleman George Savage was killed on an otherwise quiet day, when his battalion relieved the 15th Welsh Regiment in the front line trenches. He is buried at Hebuterne Communal Cemetery, and is also commemorated locally on the war memorial at St Patrick’s Church, Salter Street. His name is also recorded on the Hook Norton war memorial.
If you have any further information about the family, please let us know.
Heritage & Local Studies Librarian
tel.: 0121 704 6977