In our last entry on this website, we said that – after nearly fifty years of mystery – the three men named on the Draycott War Memorial as having died in World War One have finally been properly identified. See the article
But – even more research has just recently come to light about one of the men, Philip Bagnall. Lev Wood of the local History Group has some more information…
Yes, we have now discovered even more about Sergeant Philip Hawley Bagnall, who was killed on the 30th September 1915 whilst serving in the 1/5th Battalion of the North Staffs Regiment at Hill 60, which is in Belgium just south east of Ypres.
As well as being remembered on the Draycott War Memorial, he is also commemorated on the Stoke Railway Station memorial (see pic below, middle column). As we know that his father worked there (as a goods clerk) it would seem to make sense of this listing that Philip was also was a worker there – before he joined the draft in 1914. In fact, his service number, 2882, indicates that he would have joined up just after war broke out.
Records show that his battalion marched through Blythe Bridge and Draycott on the morning of the 10th August 1914, on their way via Checkley to Burton on Trent. However, Philip would not have been with them at this point; he would have been enlisting at Booth St in Stoke, and then joined other new army recruits at Butterton Hall.
Following a short induction he would have joined the battalion at Saffron Walden and he may be one of the men shown below taken in early Sept 1914. (Note – they are still in civvies).
However, as you said in your previous article, we still don’t know what his actual connection to Draycott was. Is there any relative of his who might know?
Next we know of him for sure is that he is in the fighting at ‘Hill 60’, a small plot of land which was the scene of bitter conflict during the time the 1/5th were there. At certain times the distance between the trenches were as little as five metres – so close that listening posts were set up, thus enabling the poor sentry to hear the enemy talking and even smell their breakfast cooking!
They were also being constantly shelled by the enemy, with ten men killed and 42 wounded in the week ending 30th September 1915. The Higher Command called this carnage ‘trench wastage’.
The battalion were at the site from late July until their last day there, the 30th September….. the day Philip was “killed in action”.
Sadly, very little else is known about him; and the society would love a photograph of him to add to our research on the Battalion… so, if anyone can help, that would be great.
We recently visited Ypres, and got to the Larchwood Railway cemetery, his final resting place; and managed to place poppies on his grave, and on the graves of the twenty-six other local men buried there. May they rest in peace.
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If you can help with any more information, please email us, or leave a comment below.