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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15th August 1917

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.

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28th May 1917

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.

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17th November 1916

On 17th November 1916, Captain Charles Henry Dwyer was shot and killed by a German sniper early in morning while carrying out a difficult reconnaissance. He was 21 years old, and was serving with the 10th Battalion, Worcestershire Regiment.

Merchant mariner Arthur Cecil Johnson, of Barston, also died on 17th November 1916 aboard the cargo vessel, S.S. Serbistan, which went missing at sea.

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19th August 1916

19-year-old Christopher Henry Cranmer died of wounds in Salonika on 19th August 1916 whilst serving as a Corporal with the 7th Battalion Oxford & Bucks Light Infantry. On the same day, Lance Corporal Arthur Busby died of wounds in France whilst serving with the 1st/5th Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment.

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6th August 1916

Rifleman Frederick John Doughty was killed in action on 6th August 1916, serving with the 13th Battalion, King’s Royal Rifle Corps. He was born in Bishop’s Tachbrook, Warwickshire in 1889 and was the eldest of the two children on parents, Frederick (a gardener at the time of his son’s baptism) and Emma (née Eels) who had married in Coventry in 1888. His younger sister, Elsie, was born on 28th December 1894.

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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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4th July 1916

27-year-old Albert Theodore Vardy from Lapworth was killed on 4th July 1916, serving as a Second Lieutenant with the Royal Warwickshire Regiment. He was the only son of parents Rev. Albert Richard Vardy and Isabel Mary and was born on 7th August 1888, being baptised at Lapworth on 5th November 1888. He had two older sisters, Winifred Isabella (1874-1931) and Constance Mary (1885-1899).

He had attended West House School, Edgbaston and King Edward’s School, Birmingham, where his father was Headmaster from 1872 until his death from a paralytic stroke, aged 58, in July 1900. Early in his career, Rev. Vardy had been a tutor in the family of writer, Anthony Trollope.

After leaving King Edward’s, Albert Vardy went on to study at Shrewsbury School and then, in 1907, to Pembroke College, Cambridge where he studied classics. On taking his degree, he was appointed classics master at Highgate School, London. On the 1911 census, he appears as a “Graduate in residence” boarding with two Cambridge University undergraduates at Castleton Post Office, Derbyshire.

On the outbreak of war, he joined the Public Schools Battalion of the Middlesex Regiment, and obtained a commission in the Special Reserve of Officers in April 1915. He was appointed Second Lieutenant with the 2nd Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment on 20th December 1915 and was sent abroad in May 1916.

He was killed instantaneously on 4th July 1916, whilst helping a wounded officer from his battalion, who also died. Second Lieutenant Albert Theodore Vardy is buried at Dantzig Military Cemetery and is also commemorated locally at Lapworth and Rowington, as well as on the Roll of Honour at St Paul’s Church, Finchley, north London, and at Christ Church, Warminster (birthplace of his father).

Lest we forget by Peter A. J. Hill notes that Lt Vardy’s name appears on the Roll of Honour in Lapworth Church but not on the war memorial, although he is listed on Rowington’s war memorial as the family had lived at various times in both Lapworth and Rowington parishes. He is also commemorated on the Vardy family grave in the church at Lapworth beneath the lime trees:

If you have any more information about the family, please let us know.

Heritage & Local Studies Librarian

email: heritage@solihull.gov.uk
tel.: 0121 704 6977



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