Further exploration of the men commemorated on the war memorial in the churchyard to St James, Ogley Hay.
The bald fact is that Private Hubert Sedgwick Sanders was killed by an enemy sniper on 5th May 1915, during fierce fighting for Hill 60, in the second battle of Ypres. But there is more of local interest to this story of a brave young man who sacrificed his own future so that others could live theirs, ours.
So who was Private Sanders?
Hubert Sedgwick Sanders was born on 20 December 1892, the third son of William Alfred and Alice Mary Sanders (1). In 1911 their home was Middleton House Farm (2), which stood at the north east quadrant of Coop Corner, Ogley Hay (the junction of Chase Road / Ogley Road and Lichfield Road).
Hubert, 18, single, was a pupil teacher, in other words untrained, at Watling Street School, the one that I attended, at the corner of Watling Street (A5) and The Parade.
The inestimable and unemulated Brownhills Bob has blogged about Middleton House a number of times: there is an image of the old farmhouse in Stuck in the Middleton with you.
Ten years earlier, the 1901 census records the family at “Near Chemical Works”, which could also have been Middleton House (3). At that time Hubert was attending Ogley Hay School, Church Road, where the head master was Hyla John Holland, another well-repected servant of Brownhills (4).
Hubert was clearly a bright lad, for he obtained a scholarship to Queen Mary’s Grammar School, in Walsall, before advancing to St Peter’s College, Saltley, in Birmingham for teacher training. At the outbreak of war he was in his second year there. At that time Hubert was already in military training with the Territorial Force (5).
World War I
Hubert enlisted at Saltley College, Birmingham, a natural progression from his four years’ service in the Territorials, becoming Private 1680 Sanders in the 1st/8th Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment (6). In August 1914 the 1st/8th were at Aston Cross, Birmingham. They landed at Le Havre on 22 March 1915 (7), and would soon be on the front line in the Ypres area, where they would defend Hill 60 (4), a strategic area of higher ground in an extensive plain (8).
The Second Battle of Ypres was fought from 22 April – 25 May 1915 for control of the strategic Flemish town of Ypres in western Belgium, and on 5 May the Germans gained a foothold on Hill 60 (9). It was then that sniper Private Sanders fell victim to enemy sniper fire (4).
Hubert had been a member of the choir at St James, Ogley Hay, and the congregation stood in remembrance and respect as Mendelsohn’s Funeral March was played (4). It cannot be known whether Hubert would have pursued his teaching career in the Brownhills area, but his was a considerable loss to the community.
Hubert was awarded the British War and Victory Medals (10).
Private 1680 Hubert Sedgwick Sanders is commemorated at La Plus Douve Farm Cemetery (11) (12). The cemetery is about 10 km (6 miles) south of Ypres.
(1) Birth and baptism
Birth registered Q1 1893 Lichfield 6b 479 (General Register Office)
Staffordshire, England, Birth, Marriage and Death Indexes, 1837-2017
Name: Hubert Sedgwick Sanders
Record Type: Birth
Birth Date: 20 Dec 1892
Birth Place: Staffordshire, England
Mother: Alice Sedgwick
BAPTISMS solemnised in the parish of S. Marys Lichfield … (Findmypast)
1894, Jan 18, Hubert Sedgwick, William Alfred & Alice Mary, Sanders, Beason St, Farmer.
(2) 1911 Census:
At Middleton House, Brownhills, Walsall. Father, William Alfred was a farmer, mother was Alice Mary, older brother Milton Sanders was a trained affiliated teacher employed by Walsall Education Committee, and Hubert Sedgwick Sanders, now 18 and single, was a pupil teacher employed by Staffordshire Education Committee. There was a third son Harold Allen Sanders, 16, at school.
(3) 1901 Census:
At Near Chemical Works, Ogley Hay, with family, Hubert S Sanders, son, 8, born Lichfield. Oddly, Hubert’s father William A Sanders’ occupation was Farmer’s Son, even though he was head of family. Mother was Alice M Sanders.
(4) Walsall Observer, and South Staffordshire Chronicle 22 May 1915 p3 col4
BROWNHILLS FARMER’S SON KILLED
Intimation has been received from the commanding officer that Private Hubert Sedgwick Sanders, of Brownhills, has given his life for his country while on active service with the Sth Warwickshire Territorial Regiment. The son of a well-known farmer in the district, Mr. W.A. Sanders, of MIddleton House Farm, Lichfield Road, Brownhills, who is in command of the Brownhills Detachment of the Volunteer Training Corps, the deceased soldier was, prior to the war, completing his second year’s course of training for a schoolmaster at Saltley College, and had a promising career before him. As a boy he attended Ogley Hay Council Schools, where, under the head-mastership of Mr. H.J. Holland, he gained a county scholarship for Queen Mary’s Grammar School. He was also a member of the choir of St. James’s Parish Church, Brownhills, where on Sunday evening a sympathetic tribute to his memory was paid by the whole congregation standing while the organist rendered Mendelssohn’s Funeral March.
It was during the fierce fighting round Hill 60 on May 5 that Private Sanders met his death. Being a clever rifleman, he was selected for sniping duty, and it was while engaged in this that he fell a victim to an enemy marksman. In the cemetery close to headquarters he was laid to rest, the service being conducted by the Chaplain Captain Macready.
(5) Walsall Advertiser 22 May 1915 p3 col4 (Findmypast)
KILLED IN ACTION
Hubert Sedgewick Sanders, age 22, formerly a teacher at Watling-street Schools, and for the past two years a student at Saltley College, was killed in action on May 5th. When war broke out he was in training with the 8th Batt. (T.F.) Warwickshire Regiment, and had put in four years’ service as a territorial.
On Saturday Mr. W.A. Saunders, Middleton House Farm, Brownhills, received the following letter from Col. E.A. Innes:
“Dear Sir, — It is with great regret that I write to inform you of the death of your son (1689) (sic) Private H.S. Saunders, who was killed in action 5th May, 1915. Private Sanders was buried in the cemetery close to Headquarters, the ceremony being conducted by Capt. Chaplain Macready. I feel assured it will always be a source of pleasure to you to know that you son died giving his best for King and Country. — Yours sincerely, EDGAR A. INNES.”
(6) UK, WWI Service Medal and Award Rolls, 1914-1920 (Ancestry)
ROLL OF INDIVIDUALS entitled to the Victory Medal and/or British War Medal granted under Army Orders
1680, Pte. SANDERS, Hubert S 1/8th. Bn. R.War.R.
UK, Soldiers Died in the Great War, 1914-1919
Name: Hubert Wedgwick Sanders [Hubert Sedgwick Sanders]
Birth Place: Lichfield, Staffs
Residence: Walsall, Staffs
Death Date: 5 May 1915
Death Place: France and Flanders
Enlistment Place: Saltley College, Birmingham
Regiment: Royal Warwickshire Regiment
Battalion: 1st 8th Territorial Battalion
Regimental Number: 1680
Type of Casualty: Killed in action
Theatre of War: Western European Theatre
(7) The Long Long Trail
August 1914 : in Aston Cross. Part of Warwickshire Brigade, South Midland Division.
Landed at Le Havre 22 March 1915.
13 May 1915 : became 143rd Brigade, 48th (South Midland) Division.
Moved to Italy with the Division in November 1917.
Moved to France 11 September 1918 and joined 75th Brigade, 25th Division.
(8) World War One Battlefields
Second Battle of Ypres: Germans gain a foothold on Hill 60.
(10) UK, WWI Service Medal and Award Rolls, 1914-1920 (Ancestry)
Name: Hubert S Sanders
Military Year: 1914-1920
Medal Awarded: British War Medal and Victory Medal
Regiment or Corps: Royal Warwickshire Regiment
Regimental Number: 1680
Previous Units: 1/8th. Bn. R. War. R. 1680 Pte.
(11) Commonwealth War Graves Commission Debt Of Honour (Findmypast)
First name(s) Hubert Sedgwick
Last name Sanders
Birth year 1893
Death year 1915
Death date 05 May 1915
Unit 1St/8Th Bn.
Regiment Royal Warwickshire Regiment
Grave reference V. B. 7.
Cemetery or memorial La Plus Douve Farm Cemetery
Burial country Belgium
Additional information Son of William Alfred and Alice Mary Sanders, of Middleton House, Brownhills, Walsall, Staffs. Native of Lichfield, Staffs.
(12) Find A Grave