Private Hugh Hargrave Wyatt-Smith died of peritonitis in the Military Hospital, Endell Street, London as a result of appendicitis. He had served in the military for only 37 days and was just a few days past his 18th birthday.
Second Lieutenant Charles Hugh Davies died in France on 17th January 1916 after a piece of shrapnel pierced the roof of his dug-out and struck him on the head as he was sleeping. He was 28 years old and was serving with the 9th Battalion Welsh Regiment. Although born in Stoke Bishop, Bristol in June 1887, his father, Thomas Davidson Davies, was from Camarthenshire, Wales.
Charles was the eldest of the three sons of Thomas Davidson Davies (Chief Mathematical Master at Clifton College) and his wife, Elinor Lucy (née Thomas). His local connection to the Solihull area is that he was a boarder at Packwood Haugh School from 1899 until 1901 when he went on to Rugby School, winning a General Exhibition before he left in 1905. He went up to Magdalen College, Oxford with a Classical Demyship (scholarship).
Captain George Pottinger Cox was killed in action on Christmas Eve 1915, aged 22, serving with the 1st Battalion, Essex Regiment. His surname, Cox, was actually the name of his step-father, by which he seems to have been known after the remarriage of his widowed mother when he was aged one. His birth surname was Innocent.
He was born on 15th January 1893 in Tientsin [Tianjin], China where his father and grandfather had both been Methodist missionaries. His parents, Rev. George Morrison Hallam Innocent and Florence Elizabeth Pottinger had married in England in February 1892 whilst Rev. Innocent was on furlough from his missionary post, having attended the Methodist Conference 1891 in Leeds. In April 1892, the newlyweds set sail from London aboard the S.S. Glengyle. However, midway on the journey, Rev. Innocent was taken ill with haemorrhagic purpura and died on 30th May 1892, about 138 miles from Hong Kong. The ship put into port there next day and Rev. Innocent was buried in Happy Valley Cemetery, aged 32.
Four local men lost their lives on 13th October 1915. They have no known grave and are commemorated on the Loos Memorial:
- Second Lieutenant Ostcliffe Harold Beaufort, North Staffordshire Regiment
- Private Donald Ewen, London Regiment (London Scottish)
- Private Joseph Frederick Harding, Gloucestershire Regiment
- Lieutenant (Temporary Captain) Harley Raymond Russell, Gloucestershire Regiment
George Lindon was born in 1891 in Packwood, the only son of the four surviving children of Daniel, a farmer and gardener, and his wife, Charlotte Eliza (nee Hull). George became a gardener at Knowle Hall but joined the Army within a month of the outbreak of war. He was killed in action, aged 24, on 28th September 1915, serving as a Private with the 2nd Battalion The Buffs (East Kent Regiment).
Two local officers, both aged 21, died of wounds on 27th September 1915. Second Lieutenant Archibald Ure Buchanan, who lived in Olton, died in Flanders whilst serving with the Gordon Highlanders, and Lieutenant Albert William Buchan Carless, who had been a boarder at Packwood Haugh school, died in France whilst serving with the Middlesex Regiment.
The 25th September 1915 saw British forces launch an attack on German positions at Loos, Belgium. At the same time, the French attacked German lines at Champagne and Vimy Ridge in the Arras region of France.
The First Battle of Loos lasted from 25th September until 19th October and was the first time that Allied forces used gas as a weapon. 25th September saw German machine guns kill 8,500 men in a single day, the greatest loss of life since the war began. Only 2,000 0f the first-day casualties have a known grave. Seven local men also died on 25th September:
- Private Lawrence George Berry, D Coy, 2nd Battalion, Suffolk Regiment
- Rifleman Ernest Franklin, 1st Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles
- Lance Corporal Charles Jones, 2nd Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment
- Second Lieutenant Charles William King, 2nd Battalion, South Staffordshire Regiment
- Private John Thomas Rowley, 8th Battalion, Somerset Light Infantry
- Captain Edward Hanson Sale, 10th (Service) Battalion, Gloucestershire Regiment
- Private William Henry Wells, 1st Battalion, Royal Scots Fusiliers
Private William Tarver, 1st Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment, died on 26th July 1915 in France. Born in Solihull in 1880, he was the second of seven children born to Henry Osborne Tarver and his wife, Elizabeth.
Henry and Elizabeth were both born in Gloucestershire, and their eldest son, Thomas, was born there in 1879. They had moved to Solihull by the time of William’s birth a year later, and were living at 19, Blossomfield by the time of the 1881 census. Henry was recorded as a waggoner.
John Dyott Willmot of Coleshill, the second of four children of George Dyott Willmot J.P. (1863-1921) and Nellie Pratchett Willmott (formerly Heatley) (1869-1956), was killed in action in France on 3rd July 1915, at the age of 19. He was a Lieutenant with 6th Battalion Worcestershire Regiment and was born in King’s Norton in 1896, although the family had moved to Blyth Cottage, Coleshill by the time of the 1901 census.
The local connection is that John Dyott Willmot attended Packwood Haugh School before going on to Malvern College where he was known as a great athlete, winning the open high jump in 1913 and 1914 and the long jump in 1914. He was in Mr. P. R. Farren’s house at Malvern, and became a School Prefect. He was a member of the Officers’ Training Corps at the College.
His younger brother, Robert Dyott Willmot (1898-1918), also died on active service in the war at the age of 19, having followed in his brother’s footsteps at Packwood Haugh and Malvern College. Their elder sister, Mary Georgina Dyott Willmott (known as Georgina) (1894-1985), served as a Voluntary Aid Detachment nurse after attending Clarendon House boarding school for ladies in Leamington Spa. Their parents were commandants of the Vicarage Hospital, Coleshill. The youngest child, Honor Christine Dyott Willmot (1906-1984) was too young to play a part in the war.
Former bricklayer’s labourer, Henry Simmons (known as Harry), died on 13th October 1914, serving as a Private with 1st Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment.
On the same day, former painter, Private William Shenstone of Bordesley, Birmingham, also died whilst serving with the Worcestershire Regiment. Information from Packwood Haugh School is that this could be the same W. Shenstone who is listed on the school’s roll of honour, although there is some doubt about this.