Second Lieutenant Jeffrey Wentworth Lythgoe

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Lythgoe Jeffrey Memorial
Memorial located in St. Martin's & St. Paul's Church, Owen Street, Tipton.
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Jeffrey's entry on the WW1 memorial at King Edward's School, Edgbaston.

Killed in Action on Saturday, 22nd July 1916, age 26.
Buried in Grave XIV. A. I. at Caterpillar Valley Cemetery, Longueval, Somme, France.

14th Bn., Royal Warwickshire Regiment. 13th Brigade of 5th Division.

Son of the Rev. George Edward and Florence Lythgoe, Vicar of St. Paul's Vicarage, Tipton, Staffs. Born at Northwood, Hanley, Staffs.
Born: Hanley, Staffs, Enlisted: Unknown, Resident: Tipton.

First landed France & Flanders, 21st November 1915.
Medal entitlement: 1914-15 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal.
Soldier's Papers at National Archives did not survive.

Commemorated on the Tipton Library, and Dudley Grammar School memorials.
Commemorated here because he appears on a Tipton memorial.

Link to Commonwealth War Graves Site: www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/553479/

Genealogical Data

Birth of Jeffrey Lythgoe registered September quarter 1890 in Stoke-on-Trent.

1901 Census
3 Canal Street, Tipton, Staffs. (St. Paul's Vicarage)
George E. Lythgoe (39, Clergyman - Church of England, born Liverpool), his wife Florence (38, born Liverpool), and their 3 children: Fred S. (14, born Portsea), Jeffrey (10, born Hanley), and Courtney (5, born Hanley).

1911 Census
3 Canal Street, Tipton, Staffs. (St. Paul's Vicarage)
George Edward Lythgoe (49, Clerk in Holy Orders, born Liverpool), his wife (second wife, married 7 years) Ethel Beatrice (32, born Birmingham), his 2 children from his first marriage: Jeffrey Wentworth (20, Insurance Clerk, born Hanley), and Courtney Sutton (15, born Hanley), and 2 children from his second marriage: Kenneth Cartwright (5, born Tipton), and Dorothy Mabel (3, born Tipton).

Personal Data

The Tipton Library Memorial says G.W. Lythgoe (Geoffrey), every other reference spells his name as Jeffrey.

From the excellent 'Birmingham Pals' by Terry Carter, page 173...
Quote from diary of Lieutenant Alan Furse, 14th Royal Warwicks:
"On the 20th (July 1916) we moved up via Fricourt to Mametz and here I delivered two days rations by the wayside, and this was the last time I saw the battalion as I used to know it. As they moved off on their final stage to the trenches I stood by the side of the road saying goodbye, and Betty (Second-Lieutenant J. W. Lythgoe, 'A' Company) called me to him and gave me five Francs to get some Players cigarettes for him when he came out."

From 'Birmingham Pals' by Terry Carter, page 185...
"While waiting for news, Lieutenant Furse probably carried with him the packet of Players cigarettes that were intended for his friend and fellow officer "Betty", but he, unknown to Furse, had been killed. Captain Jeffrey Lythgoe, aged 25, was the son of the Vicar of St Paul's Church, Tipton. He was a former Dudley Grammar School and an old boy of King Edward's, New Street. Prior to the war he had worked for Alliance Assurance Company and had served for five years in the ranks of the Territorials. After enlisting into the battalion, Lythgoe had been a Sergeant in 'D' Company before being commissioned."

Jeffrey Lythgoe's 'trio' of medals was sold by Dix, Noonan & Web in 2005 for £720. Their sale catalogue said: "Jeffery Wentworth Lythgoe, who was born at Northwood, Hanley, Staffordshire, was killed in action on the Somme on 22 July 1916, aged 26 years, while serving in the 14th (1st Birmingham) Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment. On that date, his Battalion was ordered to attack the Wood Lane feature, but was cut to pieces by machine-gun fire from High Wood, suffering nearly 500 casualties. The son of the Rev. George and Mrs Florence Lythgoe, of St. Paul's Vicarage, Tipton, Staffordshire, he was buried in the Caterpillar Valley Cemetery at Longueval, France."

From the King Edward's School WW1 exhibition 2014...
Jeffery Wentworth Lythgoe, born on 10th July 1890, was admitted to King Edward's School in September 1900. His father was the Reverend Lythgoe, and the family, including his stepmother, Ethel, his half-siblings, Kenneth and Dorothy, and his younger brother, Courtney, lived at St Paul's Vicarage, Tipton.

At School Jeffery was not a high achiever academically, and there are no surviving records of his extra-curricular activities.

In 1914, Jeffery enlisted as a Private Soldier in the 1st Birmingham Pals Battalion (14th Royal Warwickshire Regiment). In February 1915, he was gazetted as a Second Lieutenant, and in November, was promoted to Lieutenant. He was killed on the Somme on 22nd July 1916, and is buried in Caterpillar Valley Cemetery, Longueval. He left his estate of £75 to his father.

Action resulting in his death

The capture of the Bazentin Ridge on 14th July 1916 had not been fully exploited on the day and High Wood, although undefended for a time, had not been taken. This was to cost the 14th Royal Warwicks dearly. The Germans had fallen back to their newly-dug Switch Line which touched the northern edge of High Wood and it was the Switch Line that was targeted as the next phase of the assault.

On the 20th July, High Wood, Delville Wood and the high ground between were to be attacked. Units of the 7th Division advanced beyond Black Road (today's Longueval to Martinpuich road) and as they crested the rise towards Green Lane, they were cut down. They were forced to retire to Black Lane and it was here that the 14th Warwicks took over from them on the evening of 20th July.

On the 22nd/23rd July the assault on the Switch Line was to be made again. Between Black Road and the Switch Line lay Green Lane, occupied by German troops. This was the intermediate objective to be taken by the 14th Royal Warwicks, then the 2nd King's Own Scottish Borderers would carry on to the final objective.

The artillery barrage on Green Lane commenced at 8pm but had not been pre-registered and failed to find the target. The Warwicks rose to the attack at 10pm against unsuppressed opposition and were slaughtered. A few may have got into Green Lane, but if so they were never heard from again.

German machine guns from the east corner of High Wood, and the eastern end of Green Lane caught the Warwicks in enfilade. Additionally the German artillery bombarded the area between Black Road and Green Lane. All the survivors could do was to fall back to their start point in Black Road, and consolidate against a possible German counter-attack. The 14th Royal Warwicks suffered 485 casualties during the attack, of whom 194 were killed.

Jeffrey Lythgoe's body was not recovered, but was found during battlefield clearance in 1920. His remains were found about 200 yards from the start point and 100 yards from Green Lane. He was re-interred in Caterpillar Valley cemetery within sight of the place he fell.

Newspaper Cuttings

Tipton Herald 29th May 1915
Reverend Lythgoe has two sons in forces -
2nd Lt J Wentworth Lythgoe (4th Royal Warwicks).
Sgt Stanley G Lythgoe (5th Royal Warwicks)

Tipton Herald 5th August 1916
On Saturday last, the Rev G.E. Lythgoe, vicar of St. Paul's,Tipton, received official information that his son, Second-Lieutenant Jeffrey Wentworth Lythgoe had been killed on the night of July 22nd-23rd, while gallantly leading his men into action during a night attack on the German trenches.
The deceased, who was 26 years of age, was educated at Dudley Grammar School and King Edward's, New Street, Birmingham. He became a Territorial seven years ago, and joined the Army at the outbreak of the war, being made an officer some time later. He had been attached to the Alliance Assurance Company, of Colmore Row, Birmingham, as an inspector, and was among the first to join one of the Birmingham City Battalions which form a part of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment. He proceeded to France in November last, and was home on seven days leave in May. He was very popular in Tipton. He had served as a Sunday School teacher at St. Paul's, and also as a diocesan reader.
The Vicar received the following letter from the Lieutenant-Colonel commanding the Battalion:- "My dear Sir, It is with deepest regret that I have to confirm the report that your son was killed in action on the night of 22nd-23rd July. He was hit by rifle fire whilst most gallantly leading his men into action during a night attack on the German trenches.
Your loss is shared by the whole battalion, by whom your poor boy was much loved. I had known him for eight months, and can testify to his untiring energy and strict devotion to duty. He was an officer of great promise, and gave his life willingly for the most noble of causes. Please accept the heartfelt sympathy of yours sincerely, L. MURRAY, Lieut-Colonel".

Tipton Herald 12th August 1916
The Rev. G.E. Lythgoe (Vicar of St. Paul's, Tipton) has received the following telegram from Buckingham Palace, London:- " The King and Queen deeply regret the loss you and the Army have sustained by the death of Second-Lieutenant J. Wentworth Lythgoe, in the service of his country. Their majesties truly sympathise with you in your sorrow."

Tipton Herald 19th August 1916
A memorial service for Lieutenant J Wentworth Ltyhgoe (Royal Warwickshire Regiment), who was killed in action on July 22nd, was held in St. Paul's Church in Tipton on Sunday evening last. The deceased officer was the second son of the Vicar (Rev. G.E. Lythgoe). The officiating clergymen were the Rev Wilson T. deVine, M.A., R.D. (Vicar of St. Martin's) and the Rev H.C.A. Colvile (Vicar of St. Mark's, Ocker Hill). There was a large congregation. The Vicar of Tipton gave the address from the words of St. John: "Greater love hath no man but this, that he lay down his life for his friend." He said that they had met together to worship God and to do honour to one who had suddenly been called from their sight. On the 22nd of last month he was killed in action whilst in command of his company. "He showed a great deal of interest in the Sunday School; the teachers and children will miss him there" continued the Vicar; "he and his brother showed great interest in the services of this your church. I remember so well only a few years ago, when the Bishop of Stafford held a confirmation here and the two brothers assisted in the service. The Bishop said how grateful he was to them for the way they had carried out the arrangements. So many of you here present will miss him as a friend. He will be missed in his home. We can be quite sure he never thought himself a hero, but as heroes do he went on just doing his duty, never thinking of himself; for us he faced the storm; and died for us and for his country." Among the congregation was Second-Lieutenant Stanley Lythgoe, the eldest son of the Vicar, who has recently been in hospital in Liverpool owing to an injury. Special hymns were song during the service, at the conclusion of which the National Anthem was sung, followed by the Dead March, played by the organist (Mr Dudley of Brierley Hill).

 Lythgoe Jeffrey Wood Lane
Courtesy of Terry Carter, from his superb book "Birmingham Pals".