31st July 1917

Four local men lost their lives on 31st July 1917, the opening day of the Third Battle of Ypres (also known as Passchendaele, after the surrounding village and ridge). The offensive lasted until the village was taken on 6th November 1917, at a cost of some 310,000 British casualties, and over 260,000 German casualties.

Our local casualties on the first day, the Battle of Pilckem Ridge were:

  • Captain Eric Belfield, 4th Battalion, Middlesex Regiment
  • Private Rudolph Lawley, 2nd Battalion, Royal Berkshire Regiment
  • Private Joseph James Lines, 10th Battalion, Queen’s Own (Royal West Kent Regiment)
  • Private Joseph Savage, 1st Battalion, Coldstream Guards

Having no known grave, all of them are commemorated on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial

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16th July 1917

Regular soldier, Acting Bombardier Arthur John Berry MM, 49th Siege Battery, Royal Garrison Artillery died of wounds on 16th July 1917. Born in Shirley in 1889, he was the third of the seven children (five sons, two daughters) born to parents Samuel, a labourer, and Esther (née Gardner) who had married in 1885.

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15th July 1917

Private Samuel Capewell, 2nd Battalion Scots Guards, was killed in action on 15th July 1917. He was born in Birmingham on 17th February 1877, and was the eighth of the nine children (seven sons, two daughters) of parents William (a painter) and Hannah (née Jones) who had married at All Saints, Hockley, Birmingham in 1859.

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8th July 1917

Sapper Ernest William Bailey was killed in action on 8th July 1917 serving with 218th Field Company, Royal Engineers. Born in Bordesley in 1888, he was the second of three children of parents Christopher William and Sarah (née Kimberley) who had married at Holy Trinity, Bordesley, in 1885. His sister, Elsie, was born in 1887, whilst the youngest child, Alfred, was born in 1891, by which time the family had moved to Hampton-in-Arden.

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2nd July 1917

Private William Barry Lane, of Shirley, died on 2nd July 1917 whilst on active service with the 178th Company Mechanical Transport, Army Service Corps. He was the second of the eight children (four boys, four girls) of parents Walter Charles (a billiard marker) and Lizzie (née Barry) who had married in 1886. Of the couple’s eight children, one of the boys and three of the girls had died in infancy by 1911 (Walter Charles 1887-1892, Ethel Annie Mabel 1890-1892, May 1894-1896, and Annie, who was born and died in 1900). Tragically, two more of the boys would die in their 20s – one in the First World War, and one is believed to have died in a private asylum in Knowle.

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