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.
Two men with a local connection are known to have died on 3rd Jul 1916 as a result of their war service:
- Lieutenant Colonel William Burnett DSO, attended Solihull School
- Second Lieutenant Siegfried Thomas Hinkley, attended Packwood Haugh School
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.
Private Hugh Hargrave Wyatt-Smith died of peritonitis in the Military Hospital, Endell Street, London as a result of appendicitis. He had served in the military for only 37 days and was just a few days past his 18th birthday.
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).
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.
Four local men lost their lives on 13th October 1915. They have no known grave and are commemorated on the Loos Memorial:
- Second Lieutenant Ostcliffe Harold Beaufort, North Staffordshire Regiment
- Private Donald Ewen, London Regiment (London Scottish)
- Private Joseph Frederick Harding, Gloucestershire Regiment
- Lieutenant (Temporary Captain) Harley Raymond Russell, Gloucestershire Regiment
Two local officers, both aged 21, died of wounds on 27th September 1915. Second Lieutenant Archibald Ure Buchanan, who lived in Olton, died in Flanders whilst serving with the Gordon Highlanders, and Lieutenant Albert William Buchan Carless, who had been a boarder at Packwood Haugh school, died in France whilst serving with the Middlesex Regiment.
The 25th September 1915 saw British forces launch an attack on German positions at Loos, Belgium. At the same time, the French attacked German lines at Champagne and Vimy Ridge in the Arras region of France.
The First Battle of Loos lasted from 25th September until 19th October and was the first time that Allied forces used gas as a weapon. 25th September saw German machine guns kill 8,500 men in a single day, the greatest loss of life since the war began. Only 2,000 0f the first-day casualties have a known grave. Seven local men also died on 25th September:
- Private Lawrence George Berry, D Coy, 2nd Battalion, Suffolk Regiment
- Rifleman Ernest Franklin, 1st Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles
- Lance Corporal Charles Jones, 2nd Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment
- Second Lieutenant Charles William King, 2nd Battalion, South Staffordshire Regiment
- Private John Thomas Rowley, 8th Battalion, Somerset Light Infantry
- Captain Edward Hanson Sale, 10th (Service) Battalion, Gloucestershire Regiment
- Private William Henry Wells, 1st Battalion, Royal Scots Fusiliers