Whichford is a small village and civil parish in the south of the English county of Warwickshire. The war memorial is unusual in that it carries the names of the all men from the village who served, home and overseas. In January 1942 a Vickers Wellington bomber crashed near the village.
FIRST WORLD WAR
FRANK HARVEY was serving as a Private with the 1st/5th Royal Warwickshire Regiment when he was killed in action on 4th October 1917. He was aged 29 and is commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial, having no known grave.
He was the son of Edwin and Sarah Harvey of Yew Tree Cottage,Whichford and had worked as ploughman before the war. He enlisted into the Royal Warwicks in Coventry and joined the 1st/5th in France. As part 0f the 48th (South Midland) Division the Battalion cautiously pursued the Germans in their strategic retreat to the pre-pared defences of the Hindenburg line. They took part in phases of the Third Battle of Ypres, starting with the Battle of Langemarck between 16th and 18th August and then the Battle of Polygon Wood between 26th September and 3rd October. They next took part in the Battle of Broodseinde on 4th October 1917, was the last assault launched by in good weather. The operation aimed to complete the capture of the Gheluvelt Plateau and occupy Broodseinde Ridge. The Battalion lost 65 killed and missing including Private Harvey.
ALBERT HARWOOD was serving as a Private with the 11th (Service) Battalion, The Royal Warwickshire Regiment when he died of his wounds on 7th July 1916. He was aged 21 and is buried in Heilly Station Cemetery in Mericourt-l'Abbe.
He was the son of Henry and Emily Harwood, of Whichford and before enlisting had worked as a farm labourer. He enlisted into the Royal Warwickshires in Stratford upon Avon, joining the 11th Battalion in France. As part of the 112th Brigade the Battalion was ordered to attack German positions in Pozieres as part of the 1916 Somme Offensive, and Private Harwood was wounded during this action and died in a Casualty Clearing Station in Mercourt.
JOHN HAWTIN was serving as a Farrier Corporal with 8th Horse Transport Company, The Army Service Corps when he died of typhoid on 23rd December 1915. He was aged 33 and is buried in Cairo War Memorial Cemetery.
He was the son of William and Sarah Hawtin of Whichford and had worked as a blacksmith. In August 1912 he married Selina Aston in Ilmington, where they settled. He enlisted into the ASC in Stratford upon Avon and was posted to Egypt on 27th April 1915.
FREDERICK ERNEST LOWE was serving as a Private in the 166th Company of the Labour Corps when he was killed in action on 15th December 1917. He was aged 33 and is buried in Metz-en-Couture Communal Cemetery British Extension.
He was the son of Thomas and Harriett Lowe of Whichford and worked as a farm labourer. In August 1908 he married Elizabeth Orchard in Shipston on Stour. The couple moved to Stanhope Street in Cheltenham, where they ran a boarding house, and had a son together. He enlisted into the Worcestershire Regiment in Cheltenham on 10th December 1915 being placed in the reserves. He was mobilized on 8th June 1916 spending time with the Somerset Light Infantry and the Devonshire Regiment before joining 14th Labour Battalion and being sent to France on 9th April 1917. On the formation of the Labour Corps he was transferred to 166th Company on 28th April.He was killed in action on 5th December 1917.
THOMAS JOB LOWE was serving as a Lance Corporal with the 1st Battalion, The Wiltshire Regiment when he was killed in action on 23rd October 1918. He was aged 19 and is buried in Ovillers New Communal Cemetery, Solesmes.
He was the son of Albert and Eleanor Lowe of Whichford and prior to enlistment had worked as a farm labourer. H e had enlisted in Stratford upon Avon, joining the 5th Dorset Regiment before being posted to the 1st Battalion of the Wiltshires in France. On 23rd October the Battalion moved up to front line positions near Ovillers north of the town of Le Cateau. German positions were attacked at 0300 and the enemy forced back and objectives were achieved at the cost of 25 men of the Battalion being killed, including L/Cpl Lowe.
ERNEST TUBAL MORGAN was serving as a Private with the 1st/5th Battalion, The Royal Welsh Fusiliers when he died on 4th May 1917. He was aged 18 and is buried in Porquellores Communal Cemetery, an island off the Cote d'Azur, Southern France.
He was the son of Jubal and Annie Morgan of Whichford, having been born in Bloxham. He was working as a butcher when he enlisted into the Royal Welsh Fusiliers on 26th November in Birmingham. He gave his age as 19 years and 5 months but was in fact just 16 years. He served in the UK until 25th April 1916 when he was posted to the 2nd Battalion in France. They saw action in phases of the 1916 Somme Offensive starting on 1st July with the Battle of Albert and then the Battle of Bazentin Ridge. He was wounded in action during the attacks on High Wood in August and evacuated back to England on 29th August 1916. After recovery he was posted to the 1/5th Battalion, who were based in Egypt.
On 3rd May 1917 he boarded the troopship Transylvania (below) at Marseille bound for Alexandria with a full complement of troops, escorted by the Japanese destroyers Matsu and Sakaki.
At 1000 on 4th May the Transylvania was struck in the port engine room by a torpedo fired by the German U-boat U-63 under the command of Otto Schultze. At the time the ship was about 2.5 miles south of Cape Vado near Savona, in the Gulf of Genoa. The Matsu came alongside the Transylvania and began to take on board troops while the Sakaki circled to force the submarine to remain submerged. Twenty minutes later a second torpedo was seen coming straight for the Matsu, which saved herself by going astern at full speed. The torpedo hit the Transylvania instead, which sank immediately. Ten crew members, 29 army officers and 373 soldiers lost their lives including Private Morgan. His body was washed up on the island of Porquerolles off Southern France.
WALTER STOWE was serving with the 17th (Service) Battalion, The King's Royal Rifle Company when he died of his wounds on 8th April 1918. He was aged 34 and is buried in St Sever Cemetery Extension, Rouen.
He was the son of Benjamin and Sarah Stowe of Bay Tree Cottage, Whichford. In 1905 he married Matilda Welsh and they had a son and a daughter together, living at Great Rollright where he worked as a cowman. He had enlisted into the Army Service Corps supply branch before joining the King's Royal Rifles. On 16th March 1918 the KRRC as part of 117th Infantry Brigade took over front line positions near the village of Sorel in the Somme area. At 0430 on 21st a heavy bombardment began across the entire front line and at dawn the following day the Germans attacked in numbers. This was the start of the expected German Offensive. Buoyed by troops released from the Eastern Front after the surrender of Russia the Germans attacked in numbers across the old Somme battlefields. The Allies fought a fighting retreat back to the outskirts of Amiens and Private Stowe was wounded in the action, being evacuated to hospital in Rouen, where he died.
His widow re-married in 1919.
WILLIAM JOHN MOSS was serving as a Private with the 10th (Service) Battalion, The Royal Warwickshire Regiment when he was killed in action on 23rd July 1916. He was aged 26 and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial, having no known grave.
He was the son of Arthur George and Ellen Sophia Moss, of Whichford and before enlisting had worked as a waggoner on a farm. He enlisted into the Royal Warwickshire in Stafford upon Avon and joined the 10th Battalion in France. The Battalion, as part of the 19th (Western Division), were involved in the 1916 Somme Offensive from the opening Battle of Albert on 1st July 1916. They then went into action in the attacks on High Wood from 14th July. On 23rd July they were manning trenches in Mametz Wood. At 0030 they were ordered to attack the strong German line behind High Wood. Unfortunately due to their guides not knowing the way they did not arrive at the jumping off trench until 0115. By this time the covering artillery barrage had lifted, nevertheless the Battalion went over the top but were unable to advance due to heavy machine gun fire. They returned to their original trenches and, fearing a German counter attack, were ordered to hold the trench line at all costs. This they did, but heavy shell fire claimed many casualties including Private Moss who was reported missing after the Battalion was relieved.
JOHN FRANCIS RAIKES was serving as a 2nd Lieutenant with the 3rd Battalion, attached to the 9th attalion, The Essex Regiment when he was killed in action on 11th October 1916. He was aged 20 and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial, having no known grave.
He was the son of the Reverend Thomas Raikes and Elizabeth Raikes, of Whichford Rectory, having been born in Marcham. He was educated at Radley College and Corpus Christi College, Oxford. He had enlisted into the 18th (Service) Battalion (1st Public Schools), The Royal Fusiliers just after the outbreak of war. He was sent to France on 14th November 1915. He served with the Battalion in France until 23rd March 1916 when he was sent to the UK for officer training. He was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the 3rd Depot Battalion, The Essex Regiment 4th August 1916. He was attached to the 9th Battalion and joined them in France in September 1916. On 10th October the Battalion moved into the line at Gueudecourt in the Somme area, south of Arras. They came under German artillery fire and 2nd Lieutenant Raikes was killed.
AIR CRASH 1942
On 29th January 1942 Vickers Wellington IC L7801 OX-E of 15 Operational Training Unit took off from RAF Hampstead Norris in Berkshire on a local flying sortie. The aircraft became lost and and encountered heavy fog and crashed into a Whichford Hill, killing one of the four crew members. He was;
Sergeant AUBREY JOHN FRANK TURTILL, Tail Gunner, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, aged 25. He was married to Jessie Turtill of Littlehampton and is buried in Hornchurch Cemetery in Essex.