Remembering the Fallen: on this day in 1916, Second Lieutenant Edward Felix Baxter V.C., 1st/8th Battalion, the King’s (Liverpool) Regiment, was killed in action at Blairville in France.
His father was a maltster and miller, and their family home is now The Oldwinsford public school.. He was educated at Hartlebury Grammar School and the London Bluecoat school, Christ’s Hospital. After leaving school he worked in a bank before attending Skerry’s College where he eventually became Head Commercial Teacher.
At the outbreak of the Great War, Second Lieutenant Baxter enlisted in the Royal Engineers. He had been a competitive motorcyclist, so was given despatch rider duties in the Mersey Defence Corps. The following year he was commissioned in the King’s (Liverpool) Regiment, also known as the Liverpool Irish.
In January of 1916 his battalion was sent to the Western Front and stationed close to Arras, performing front line duties and raiding the German lines. His raiding party were so successful they became known as the “Forty Thieves”. On the 18th of April he was seriously wounded during a bombing raid and taken prisoner by the Germans, dying the next day.
For his actions he was awarded the Victoria Cross, the citation for which reads in part: “Prior to the raid on the hostile line he was engaged during two nights in cutting wire close to the enemy’s trenches. The enemy could be heard on the other side of the parapet. Second Lieutenant Baxter, while assisting in the wirecutting, held a bomb in his hand with the pin withdrawn ready to throw. Later, he led the left storming-party with the greatest gallantry, and was the first man into the trench, shooting the sentry with his revolver. He then assisted to bomb dugouts, and finally climbed out of the trench and assisted the last man over the parapet. After this he was not seen again, though search parties were at once sent out to look for him. There seems no doubt that he lost his life in his great devotion to duty.”
Nothing was known of his fate until in July when the German government informed the American Embassy. However, the information that they had buried him in the churchyard at Boiry was not disclosed until 1920, and his remains were eventually transferred to the cemetery at Fillievres.
Edward, from Oldwinstone, Stourbridge, in Worcestershire, was 30 years old and married with a nine-year-old daughter.