In Memory of those killed in 1916
The following articles by Edwina Rees tell the stories of men killed in 1916 and commemorated on the St Mary’s Church war memorial, most of whom fought in the Somme campaign.
1. Captain George Frederick Victor Heaven killed on 25 January.
2. Staff Quartermaster Sergeant Maurice William Hobson killed on 23 April.
3. Lance Corporal Arthur Dudley Tallis killed on 1 May.
4. Second Lieutenant Frederic Clifford Alabaster was injured on 24 June by a shrapnel wound to the head, and in spite of the protection afforded by his newly issued headgear known as a Brodie helmet, died of his injuries on 25 August. He is buried at Brandwood End Cemetery.
5. Private Harry Bunce killed on 28 June.
The following men were killed in action on the first day of the Battle of the Somme, 1st July 2016
The following were subsequently killed as part of the Somme Campaign.
10. Second Lieutenant Cyril Vernon Hadley disappeared on 3 July 1916 in the 1st Battle of the Somme and following persistent enquiries by his father was eventually declared killed in action.
11. Second Lieutenant Philip Eric Edkins was wounded in the Battle for the Bazentine Ridge on 14 July 1916 and died of his injuries two days later on 16 July.
12. CaptainThomas Sidney Wathes was killed on 19 July in the Battle of Fromelles in an operation that the Germans described as ‘operationally and tactically senseless’. His 2/6th Battalion of the Royal Warwicks Regiment was relieved on the night of the 19/20 July by the battalion of Lt. Docksey Stone (see following article) but tragically Docksey Stone was also killed shortly after in a raiding party in the same location.
13. Captain George Penderell Blake who came from a family of GPs, was educated at Malvern School and Cambridge and became a schoolmaster at Merchiston Castle School, Edinburgh and Bradfield College, Berkshire, was killed on 20 July 1916.
14. Second Lieutenant Docksey Stone was wounded on 20 July in the disastrous attack on Fromelles, (19th-20th July) and died the next day (21 July) en route to the dressing station.
15. Private Sydney Anderton was killed in action on 23 July, aged 23, during an attack on from the Black Lane area of the Bazentine Ridge on the German front line at Wood Lane.
16. Private Leslie Dettmar Jolliffe was also killed in action on 23 July, aged 25, in the same attack as Private Anderton on the German front line at Wood Lane.
17. Private Frank Harold Wheeler who served with the Royal Warwicks was killed at Longneval on 27 July. His body was never recovered.
18. Captain William Evelyn Wansbrough– an engineer who served in the South Staffordshire Regiment and as officer in charge of ‘B’ company was killed in battle by heavy enemy shelling at Delville Wood on 28 July, aged 22 .
19. Private Leonard Cecil Grimes was killed in action on 30 July, aged 27, in a further attempt to capture the German front line at Wood Lane.
20. Captain William Herbert Hedges a true gentleman sportsman (champion boxer, cricketer who played both with and against Percy Jeeves and active member of Moseley Golf Club), who had recently been appointed a director of Hedges, a family business manufacturing snuff and various pharmaceutical products, died on 21 August aged 23 from wounds received.
21. Second Lieutenant Malcolm Keys returned from Australia to fight for King and Country and was killed in action on 31 August, when only 20 years old. His great grandfather served at Waterloo and his grandfather in the Royal Sussex Regiment before becoming a much-esteemed councillor in West Bromwich. Malcolm’s uncle was the chairman of West Bromwich Football Club. (Subsequently revised to include information from Cathy Lester, archivist at Western Sydney University)
22. Lance Sergeant Thomas Cheshire – joined the Army Reserve, North Staffs. Regiment at the age of 65, having served in the army for 12 years as a young man. He was discharged from the army as physically unfit and died on 1 September.
23. Private George Edward Fisher a surveyor and an active member of Moseley Ashfield Cricket Club, was killed on 4 September.
24. Private Reginald Charles Bendall was killed on 15 September, when just 20 years old, in a subsidiary attack of the Somme offensive, the battle of Flers-Courcelette, notable for the introduction of tanks.
25. Private John Jennings Belsey advertising manager for J.B.Brooks, manufacturers of cycle saddles (still in business today), was killed on 7 October.
26. Second Lieutenant Frank Neville Cowper – an accountant whose father’s family worked in the leather business, was killed on 12 October. (Subsequently revised to include information about Frank’s girlfriend Bunter, mother Emily and brother Stert, supplied by a family member, Jamie Robertson)
27. Private Cyril Bernard Jeffreys lost his life on 18 October, aged 27 at the battle of Le Transloy which took place in appalling weather on a freezing flooded battlefield in clinging Somme mud.
28. Sergeant James William Ponsford was shot in the neck and killed by a sniper on 25 October, aged 19, while leading an attempt to secure the area around High Wood.
29. Captain Harold Morley Eyles who came from a family of master tailors with a business in Knowle and once lived at 120 Church Road, Moseley, was killed on 6 November.
30. Second Lieutenant Harold Presdee Bennett a member of Mitchell’s and Butler’s brewing staff who studied at the University of Birmingham School of Brewing, was killed on 15 November as a result of friendly fire.
31. Second Lieutenant Ernest Ralph Nutting was killed in action on 18 November, the date that is now generally accepted to be the last day of the Somme Campaign.
Although Commander-in-Chief Sir Douglas Haig officially called an end to the Somme Campaign on 18 November, sporadic hostilities continued, resulting in the following deaths:
32. Private William Anthony Machin who attended Solihull School was killed on 24 November.
33. Gunner Henry Arthur Griffiths, a gunner in the Royal Garrison Artillery, was killed by an enemy shell at Mametz on 19 December, aged 19.
The following article by Jim Hone is about a man not remembered on any local memorial, as far as is known, who was also killed on the first day of the Somme.
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