Company Sergeant Major Harry Edwards, from Tanworth-in-Arden, was killed in action on 24th September 1915 having served with the Army for 18 years, 291 days. He was a regular soldier who enlisted with the Worcestershire Regiment in December 1896 at the age of 18 years two months, giving his previous occupation as an engine driver. He extended his service in 1904, and was re-engaged in 1908.
He served in South Africa during the Boer War, subsequently being promoted to Corporal in March 1906 and to Lance Sergeant in September 1911. He was mobilised to Egypt on 5th August 1914. After a brief spell of home leave in October/November 1914, he was sent to France on 5th November 1914 and served on the front line until his death. He was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM) in February 1915 for gallantry in the field on the 9th January 1915 at Neuve Chappelle, in an attack on a German trench during which 30 occupants were killed or wounded. In March 1915, he was promoted to Colour Sergeant and appointed Company Sergeant Major.
Rather confusingly, he is recorded on the Tanworth-in-Arden war memorial as Henry Mason, although his service record shows that he served under the name Harry Edwards. However, Mason was the name of his step-father and it seems that this was the surname by which he was known locally. He also appears as Henry Mason, aged 10, on the census return of 1891. His mother, Sarah Elizabeth Filbourn (née Edwards), and step-father, Richard Mason, had married in Claverdon on 30 November 1889, when Sarah Elizabeth (who seems to have been known by her middle name) was listed as a widow living in Snitterfield.
Richard and Sarah Elizabeth went on to have four children and, according to the County of Warwick Roll of Honour 1914-2005: vol. 1 – South Warwickshire by Kenneth Fowler, one of Harry’s half-brothers, Arthur Mason, served in the Royal Field Artillery.
Richard was from Claverdon, whilst Sarah Elizabeth was born in Tanworth-in-Arden in 1862. The couple obviously spent some time living in Warwick and had moved to Stratford Road, Sparkhill by 1901, where they were still living in 1911. By 1919, Sarah Elizabeth and her two youngest children, Ada and Sydney, were living at Little Bickerscourt Farm, Tanworth-in-Arden. Her older children, George and Arthur were in Exeter and Northfield respectively.
In January 1916, Harry’s mother received the personal effects her son had had with him when he was killed: 6 photographs; letters; his South African War medals (Queen’s Medal with four bars; King’s Medal with two bars); and his Distinguished Conduct Medal.
If you have any further information about Harry Edwards, alias Mason, please let us know.
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