13th October 1915

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

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27th September 1915

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.

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25th September 1915

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, Royal Irish Rifles
  • Lance Corporal Charles Jones, 2nd Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment
  • Second Lieutenant Charles William King, 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, Royal Scots Fusiliers

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3rd July 1915

John Dyott Willmot of Coleshill, the second of four children of George Dyott Willmot J.P. (1863-1921) and Nellie Pratchett Willmott (formerly Heatley) (1869-1956), was killed in action in France on 3rd July 1915, at the age of 19. He was a Lieutenant with 6th Battalion Worcestershire Regiment and was born in King’s Norton in 1896, although the family had moved to Blyth Cottage, Coleshill by the time of the 1901 census.

The local connection is that John Dyott Willmot attended Packwood Haugh School before going on to Malvern College where he was known as a great athlete, winning the open high jump in 1913 and 1914 and the long jump in 1914. He was in Mr. P. R. Farren’s house at Malvern, and became a School Prefect. He was a member of the Officers’ Training Corps at the College.

His younger brother, Robert Dyott Willmot (1898-1918), also died on active service in the war at the age of 19, having followed in his brother’s footsteps at Packwood Haugh and Malvern College. Their elder sister, Mary Georgina Dyott Willmott (known as Georgina) (1894-1985), served as a Voluntary Aid Detachment nurse after attending Clarendon House boarding school for ladies in Leamington Spa.  Their parents were commandants of the Vicarage Hospital, Coleshill. The youngest child, Honor Christine Dyott Willmot (1906-1984) was too young to play a part in the war.

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13th October 1914

Former bricklayer’s labourer, Henry Simmons (known as Harry), died on 13th October 1914, serving as a Private with 1st Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment.

On the same day, former painter, Private William Shenstone of Bordesley, Birmingham, also died whilst serving with the Worcestershire Regiment. Information from Packwood Haugh School is that this could be the same W. Shenstone who is listed on the school’s roll of honour, although there is some doubt about this.

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12th October 1914

Lieutenant Alexander Nigel Trotter, 3rd (Reserve) Battalion, The Royal Scots (Lothian Regiment) died of wounds in France on 12th October 1914, less than a month after his twentieth birthday.

Nigel, as he was known, was born in London on 17th September 1894 to parents Alexander Pelham Trotter and his wife Alys Fane Trotter (née Keatinge). Nigel had an older sister, Gundred Eleanor Trotter (1889-1975), known as “Gunda”, who was also born in London. Nigel’s local connection with the Solihull area is that he was educated at Packwood Haugh Preparatory School. Referred to now as “The First Packwood”, the school occupied a site in Glasshouse Lane, Hockley Heath from 1892 until 1940, when the school moved to “The Second Packwood” in Ruyton-XI-Towns near Shrewsbury, where it remains today. The original building in Glasshouse Lane has now been turned into 12 apartments, known as Fetherston Grange.

Postcard of changing rooms at Packwood Haugh
Changing Rooms at Packwood Haugh School c. 1920

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