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26th Jun, 2022

Redditch remembers: Three more who never returned

ONE hundred years ago this week three soldiers from Redditch were killed in an attack hailed as the greatest success of the Battle of Passchendaele.

On October 4, 1917 the British launched what became known as the Battle of Broodseinde, their artillery smashing the German defences in an advance described by the British commander Herbert Plumer as the greatest victory of the war since the ‘Miracle on the Marne’ which stopped the German advance in 1914.

However it wasn’t without casualties.

John Ames was born in 1888, one of Arthur and Lizzie Ames’s ten children.

The family lived in Edward Street and when he was old enough John worked with his father making fish hooks from their home.

By the 1911 census John had married Beatrice Jane and the couple were living at House 1, Court 4, back of Britten Street just off Bromsgrove Road.

He enlisted in Redditch and served with the 1/5th Battalion of the Gloucestershire Regiment.

His unit was at the southern end of the British attack and although finding initial success it ran into determined German counterattacks and fire from pillboxes that the artillery barrage had missed.

John was killed on October 4, 1917 and is buried at Tyne Cot Cemetery in Belgium and is remembered today on the St Stephen’s war memorial.

Percy Duggins perished the same day.

He was born in Redditch in 1892, the only son of Ellen and Alfred Henry Duggins, a foreman needle finisher, and the family lived at 134 Mount Pleasant.

He was a member of the St Luke’s Church choir and by the 1911 census was working at the Enfield Cycle Company as an accounts clerk.

He enlisted in November 1915 and although mobilised in 1916 remained on home service.

On April 24 1916 he married Kate Mobberley and the couple lived at 43 Archer Road.

However in February 1917 he was posted to France and Flanders serving with the 256th Siege Battery of the Royal Garrison Artillery.

Eight months later he was dead, probably killed in a counter bombardment of artillery positions.

He is buried at Buff Road Cemetery, Ypres, Belgium, and is remembered today on the St Stephen’s and St Luke’s war memorials.

Frank Saunders died a few days later, on October 8, 1917, the day after his unit had been repulsed in an attack just north of St Julian.

A Private in the 11th Battalion the Royal Warwickshire Regiment, he was born in 1894 to Raymond and Fanny Saunders, who together had 11 children, nine of whom survived childhood.

The family lived in Walkwood, Raymond, who died in about 1894, working as a labourer and Fanny as a needle eyer and later a cleaner.

Frank worked as a cycle wheel builder and went on to marry his sweetheart Mabel, the couple setting up home at Westheath Villa on Evesham Road in Crabbs Cross.

He is remembered on the Tyne Cot Memorial and on the St Luke’s war memorial.

With thanks to Remembering Redditch’s Fallen Heroes, Passchendaele: A New History, Nick Lloyd, Remembering Battle of Passchendaele, Jillian Coombes.

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