23-year-old Second Lieutenant Arthur George Ansell, 1st Field Survey Company, Royal Engineers, died of gas poisoning in No. 8 Red Cross Hospital, Boulogne, France on 25th April 1918, after being gassed at Passchendaele. He was the eldest of the three children of parents Arthur John (an agent for the Prudential Assurance Company at Solihull) and Emma (née Lynes) who had married in Notting Hill in 1893. Arthur John Ansell was a widower – his first wife, Kate Purvey (1867-1892) had died in childbirth in 1892, after just one year of marriage.
Two local men lost their lives on 24th April 1918 whilst on active service – Corporal William Henry Harrison, 1st Battalion Cheshire Regiment, and Private Arthur Ronald Prentice, 14th Battalion, Gloucestershire Regiment.
Private George Edward Houlston died of wounds on 18th April 1918 whilst serving in France with the 4th Battalion Machine Gun Corps. He was 20 years old and was born in Solihull in 1897.
Two local men died on 10th April 1918. Second Lieutenant Percival Horace Batchelor, Royal Warwickshire Regiment attd. 2nd/6th Bn. North Staffordshire Regiment and Private Thomas Teerheege, 3rd Battalion, Worcestershire Regiment.
Two local men lost their lives on active service on 9th April 1918. Captain Edward Grafton Herbert MC, Royal Warwickshire Regiment but attached to the Machine Gun Corps, and Pioneer Eric Stones, 3rd Special Company, Royal Engineers. Coincidentally, both men had worked for the same Birmingham brassfoundry.
On 29th March 1918 Private Philip George Powell, 28th Battalion London Regiment (Artists’ Rifles) died of wounds as a prisoner of war in Mons.
Two local men lost their lives on active service on 25th March 1918. Fitter John Charles Clinton, “A” Battery, 84th Brigade, Royal Field Artillery and Private James Drew, 10th Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment.
Two local casualties lost their lives on active service on 22nd March 1918. Private Edward Vernon Barker, 10th Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment, and Private Joseph Beecham, 2nd/6th Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment.
Nine local men lost their lives on the first day of the German Spring Offensive (Operation Michael), which saw British troops subjected to one of the longest artillery bombardments of the war. Lasting for five hours from 4:20am, the barrage of over one million artillery shells smashed vital communication lines, and was followed by waves of elite German troops coming over No Man’s Land, which was shrouded in thick fog. The Germans made swift and significant gains, with the British suffering some 50,000 casualties. British troops were ordered to withdraw, giving up much of the Somme region. However, it was not a decisive defeat, and the British were able to establish new lines of defence, whilst the rapid advance caused German supply lines to become overextended. Continue reading “21st March 1918”