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.
Edmund Dixon was born in Penrith, Cumbria in 1883 and was the third of the five children (two sons, three daughters born to parents James (agricultual labourer) and Hannah (née Savage). In 1901, a the age of 18, Edmund was working as an agricultural labourer and living with his parents and two of his siblings in the village of Tirril, near Barton, Westmorland.
His parents were still living in the village in 1911 but all their children had left home. Edmund had moved to the Midlands by 1911 when, recorded as aged 26, he was boarding with the Brain family in Yardley, whilst working as a platelayer with the Great Western Railway. In 1914, he married Annie Felton, who had been a cook with the Lindner family at the Red House, Lode Heath, Solihull.
Edmund volunteered for Army service soon after the outbreak of war, and was posted to France on 3rd October 1915, He was killed in action just under a year later. He is commemorated on Solihull war memorial and is also commemorated in his home parish of St Michael’s, Barton, Westmorland.
His widow, Annie, remarried in Solihull in 1919 and appears to have died in Birmingham in 1935, aged 50.
Arthur MacKenzie was born in Ladywood, Birmingham in 1889 but by 1901, aged 10, he was an inmate in Marston Green Cottage Homes, suggesting that his parents had died, or were unable to support him. Ten years later, he was a boarder with a family in Handsworth, and was working as a cycle saddle maker.
We don’t have any other information about Arthur’s family. In the Register of Soldiers’ Effects, his next-of-kin in given as Miss Myra Forrest. The 1911 census shows a Miss Myra Forrest, aged 17, living with her parents and siblings in Winson Green and working as a bracelet maker. The connection between her and Arthur MacKenzie (also listed in some records as McKenzie) is not known.
Arthur must have volunteered with the Army soon after the outbreak of war, and he embarked for France with the 7th Battalion, King’s Royal Rifle Corps on 20th July 1915. He was killed in action just over a year later.
He is commemorated on the war memorial of Marston Green Cottage Homes.
Euan Louis Mylne was born on 16th June 1897 in Surbiton Surrey. He was the sixth of the seven children (all sons) of parents Right Rev. Louis George Mylne (1844-1921) and his wife, Amy Frederica (née Moultrie). Rev. Mylne was ordained in 1867 and was senior tutor at Keble College, Oxford before becoming Bishop of Bombay from 1876 until January 1898. He subsequently became vicar of St Mary-le-bone before becoming Rector of Alvechurch 1905-1917.
All seven brothers served in the First World War, and two of them died of wounds received in battle. Euan’s eldest brother, Captain Edward Graham Mylne, 1st Irish Guards, was mentioned in despatches and was wounded during fighting around Ypres on 13th May 1915. His parents visited him in hospital in Rouen where he was recovering from the bullet wound to his chest. However, he developed pneumonia and died on 12th June 1915 in no. 11 Red Cross Hopsital, Rouen.
Euan was still in full-time education at the time of his brother’s death. From 1907-1911, he was educated at Packwood Haugh School, in the Solihull Rural District, before attending Uppingham School. De Ruvigny’s Roll of Honour reports that he left Uppingham in December 1915, and was gazetted Second Lieutenant to the Irish Guards on 16th February 1916, and continues:
He served with the Expeditionary Force in France & Flanders from 1 July 1916 and died on the battlefield 15-16 Sept following from wounds received in action before Les Boeufs on the afternoon of the 15th. In working his three Lewis guns, completely exposed in the open, he was struck by a sniper’s bullet, which pierced his right hand and lodged in his flank. Earlier in the day he had had two through his clothes, and had laughingly displayed the holes to his orderly. And even now, when he was lying on his stretcher with the fatal bullet in his body, he had his cheery little word about his wound as he had before about his escapes. But his life was ebbing away with his blood, and after a time he passed into merciful unconsciousness. It was about three in the afternoon when he was wounded, and by seven a counter-attack, delivered at tremendous odds, drove the Irish Guards out of the hardly-won trench. It was impossible to take him with them, and he was left as he was on the stretcher. He was awarded the Military Cross (London Gazette, 14 Nov. 1916), the official record stating ‘In the final stages of the attack, when different units were mixed up, he showed great coolness in reorganizing the men. He led on to an advanced position with great dash, and consolidated under heavy fire. While doing this he was severely wounded.’
He is buried at the Guards Cemetery, Lesboeufs, and is also commemorated on war memorials at Packwood Haugh, Alvechurch, and Uppingham.
Eric King Parsons was born in Acocks Green on 30th March 1895, and was the elder of the two children (both boys) of parents Charles Hector (a coffin furniture manufacturer) and Mary Parsons (née King). By 1910, the family had moved to Monkspath Priory, Stratford Road, Shirley. This large Victorian house was built c. 1870 for the Hobday family. In 1910, Charles Parsons successfully stood for election to Warwickshire County Council.
Eric Parsons was educated at Lindley Lodge school in Nuneaton and Repton School, Derbyshire where he was in the cricket eleven in 1913 and 1914. He won an exhibition to Magdalen College, Oxford but only studied there for one term before receiving his commission in the Rifle Brigade in December 1914. He went to the front in May 1915. He was promoted Lieutenant in August 1915, and Captain in July 1916, just three months before his death.
His brother, Charles Roy Parsons MC (1897-1975) was commissioned as Second Lieutenant in the 4th Battalion Oxford & Bucks Light Infantry on 20th January 1915. It doesn’t appear that he saw active service overseas before 1916.
The boys’ father, Charles Hector Parsons, died on 7th July 1915, aged 50, so was spared the knowledge of the death in 1916 of his eldest son. A stained glass window was installed at on the south side of the nave at St Patrick’s Church, Salter Street, in memory of father and son.
The family’s chauffeur, William Barry Lane, also joined the Army soon after the outbreak of war and was killed in 1917.
Monkspath Priory was sold in 1916 after Mr Parsons’ death, with the contents then sold at a two-day auction in January 1917. A special motor omnibus (fare 9d) ran from the Bull Ring in Birmingham to Monkspath Priory for the purpose of conveying interested persons to and from the sale. With the house having been sold, Mrs Parsons moved to Vicarage Road, Egbaston. After the Second World War, Monkspath Priory was converted into a restaurant and banqueting complex and became known as the Regency Club. Since 1996 it has been the Corus Regency Hotel.
Eric’s only sibling, Charles Roy Parsons, became a farmer after the war and, from the 1920s until at least 1940, was at Crocketts Farm, Beaudesert. He married Joan L. Allday in 1920 and it looks as if the couple had one child, Charles A. Parsons, born 1924.
If you have any more information about any of these men or their families, please let us know.
Heritage & Local Studies Librarian
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