24th August 1917

Private Thomas Duffin, 1st/5th Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment, died on 24th August 1917, aged 38. He was born in Packwood in 1879 and was the third of the eight children born to parents Thomas, an agricultural labourer, and Jane (née Kirby) who had married at Packwood in 1873 when Thomas (senior), a widower, was aged 48 and Jane was 19.

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3rd August 1917

On 3rd August 1917, Second Lieutenant Roger Paul Hepburn M.C. died in Ypres at Casualty Clearing Station, no 10, of wounds received in action serving with the Royal Engineers (30th Signal Company, attached. 21st Infantry Brigade). He was 24 years old, and had enlisted in the Army on the day war broke out, driving through the night with two friends on their motorcycles, who offered themselves as despatch riders for service with the expeditionary force. The group didn’t ask permission to go, simply leaving a note to say they had gone. Roger served for eight months at the front in this capacity, before being commissioned with the Royal Engineers and returning to the Front in November 1915 after training as a signaller. His two friends – T. Daish and J. N. Perks – both survived the war.

The local connection is that Roger was educated at Packwood Haugh School, in the Solihull rural district, between 1905-1911, when he joined Rugby School before studying natural sciences at Magdalen College, Cambridge, and taking his degree in June 1914. Whilst at Cambridge, he was also a member of the Officer Training Corps (OTC).

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24th June 1917

Three local men are known to have lost their lives on 24th June 1917 whilst on active service: Second Lieutenant Rupert Edward Everitt, 299th Siege Battery, Royal Garrison Artillery; Private William James Leake, 1st/7th Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment; and Gunner Henry Smith, 207th Siege Battery, Royal Garrison Artillery.

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30th April 1917

Private Sidney William Dawes, 11th Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment, was killed in action on 30th April 1917. He was born in Knowle in 1893 and was the youngest of the ten children (seven sons, three daughters) of parents Robert (a nurseryman) and Mary Annie (née Field) who had married in 1871.

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15th September 1916

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.

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5th July 1916

Private Walter Charles Taylor of “C” Company, 7th Battalion, the South Lancashire Regiment died on 5th July 1916. He was recorded by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission as being 18 years old, although his service record gives his age on enlistment on 23rd April 1915 as 19 years and three days. It seems that he lied about his age as, although 18-year-olds could enlist, soldiers couldn’t serve overseas until they had reached the age of 19.

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3rd June 1916

20-year-old John Vere Isham (pronounced “Eye-shum”) died of blood poisoning at No. 24 General Hospital, Etaples, France on 3rd June 1916, serving as a Second Lieutenant with the 5th Dragoon Guards (Princess Charlotte of Wales’s). He was the eldest son of Sir Vere Isham (1862-1941), 11th baronet, and was born in Bury St Edmunds on 14th November 1895. Under normal circumstances, John would have inherited the Isham baronetcy on his father’s death, instead of which it was his younger brother, Gyles (1903-1976), who became the 12th Baronet in 1941.

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25th April 1916

27-year-old Second Lieutenant Aubrey Herbert Bower Webster, 6th Battalion, Northamptonshire Regiment, was accidentally killed on 25th April 1916 when a bomb exploded prematurely whilst he was on a training course in France.

He was born in Dorridge on 25th June 1888, during the time that his father, Rev. John Webster, was curate there. He lived in Packwood as a boy and was educated at King’s School, Worcester, where his name appears on the roll of honour. His name is also included on the King’s School window in Worcester Cathedral Cloisters, as well as on a memorial plaque at St Andrew’s Church, Ombersley, Worcestershire and on the village war memorial. As far as we know, he isn’t commemorated on a memorial in the Solihull Borough.

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