3rd August 1917

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).

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24th June 1917

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.

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30th April 1917

Private Sidney William Dawes, 11th Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment, was killed in action on 30th April 1917. He was born in Knowle in 1893 and was the youngest of the ten children (seven sons, three daughters) of parents Robert (a nurseryman) and Mary Annie (née Field) who had married in 1871.

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15th September 1916

Four local men are known to have died on 15th September 1916 as a result of their war service: Private Edmund Dixon, Coldstream Guards, was killed in action and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial, as are Rifleman Arthur McKenzie, King’s Royal Rifle Corps and Captain Eric King Parsons, Rifle Brigade. Lieutenant Euan Louis Mylne MC, 2nd Battalion Irish Guards also died of wounds on the same day.

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3rd June 1916

20-year-old John Vere Isham (pronounced “Eye-shum”) died of blood poisoning at No. 24 General Hospital, Etaples, France on 3rd June 1916, serving as a Second Lieutenant with the 5th Dragoon Guards (Princess Charlotte of Wales’s). He was the eldest son of Sir Vere Isham (1862-1941), 11th baronet, and was born in Bury St Edmunds on 14th November 1895. Under normal circumstances, John would have inherited the Isham baronetcy on his father’s death, instead of which it was his younger brother, Gyles (1903-1976), who became the 12th Baronet in 1941.

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17th January 1916

Second Lieutenant Charles Hugh Davies died in France on 17th January 1916 after a piece of shrapnel pierced the roof of his dug-out and struck him on the head as he was sleeping. He was 28 years old and was serving with the 9th Battalion Welsh Regiment. Although born in Stoke Bishop, Bristol in June 1887, his father, Thomas Davidson Davies, was from Camarthenshire, Wales.

Charles was the eldest of the three sons of Thomas Davidson Davies (Chief Mathematical Master at Clifton College) and his wife, Elinor Lucy (née Thomas). His local connection to the Solihull area is that he was a boarder at Packwood Haugh School from 1899 until 1901 when he went on to Rugby School, winning a General Exhibition before he left in 1905. He went up to Magdalen College, Oxford with a Classical Demyship (scholarship).

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24th December 1915

Captain George Pottinger Cox was killed in action on Christmas Eve 1915, aged 22, serving with the 1st Battalion, Essex Regiment. His surname, Cox, was actually the name of his step-father, by which he seems to have been known after the remarriage of his widowed mother when he was aged one. His birth surname was Innocent.

He was born on 15th January 1893 in Tientsin [Tianjin], China where his father and grandfather had both been Methodist missionaries.  His parents, Rev. George Morrison Hallam Innocent and Florence Elizabeth Pottinger had married in England in February 1892 whilst Rev. Innocent was on furlough from his missionary post, having attended the Methodist Conference 1891 in Leeds. In April 1892, the newlyweds set sail from London aboard the S.S. Glengyle. However, midway on the journey, Rev. Innocent was taken ill with haemorrhagic purpura and died on 30th May 1892, about 138 miles from Hong Kong. The ship put into port there next day and Rev. Innocent was buried in Happy Valley Cemetery, aged 32.

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