Rodaways of ww1-2

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WAR DIARY 16th & 17th April 1916
  Quiet day. A raiding party of CAPT. J.H. MAHON, 2/Lt P.O. LIMRICK and 2/Lt E.F.BAXTER and 43 O.R. went out. The wirecutting party sent out cut through 13 rows of wire but had to return at 3.30 a.m. with the approach of dawn leaving their work unfinished. Casualties NIL.
WAR DIARY 17th & 18th April 1916
9.6 pm A patrol went out to ascertain if the wire cut the previous night had been mended and found it untouched.
11.30 The patrol went out and a wirecutting party of 2 officers and 2 N.C.Os went out commencing to cut wire at 12.30 a.m. All the wire except a little trip wire was cut by 2.10 a.m. and an N.C.O. sent back to bring up the storming party of 1 officer and 23 men. The party entered the trench at 2.25 a.m. a cable was immediately cut and the parties proceeded along the trench. The left party killed 4 men and bombed dugouts 174 and 176 the right 3 men and bombed a dugout 171. Cries and groans were heard from all the dugouts. No prisoners were obtained. On regaining our trench 2/Lt BAXTER was missing and a patrol which went out at once failed to get any trace of him. Two German helmets were brought in as trophies by the raiding party. Machine Guns and artillery supported the raiding party. Casualties 1 Officer (2/Lt E.F. BAXTER) missing. Bn. Relieved at 6.20 p.m. and marched to MONCHIET. Unit was relieved by 1/4 K.O. Royal Lancaster R.


 The Germans nicknamed them the  ‘Forty Thieves’ – the  band of Liverpool  Irish trench raiders who struck at the enemy lines.

At their heart was Felix Baxter, who led the raiding party on its daring forays at Blairville near Arras in the spring of 1916.
And it was the 30-year-old’s daring and bravery that saw him receive the Victoria Cross – and was to cause him to lose  his own life.
Prior to the raid on the  German line, the father-of-one  was involved in two nights’  work cutting wire close to the  enemy’s trenches.
His citation of September, 1916, takes up the tale.
National Museums Liverpool 2nd Lieut Felix Baxter
2nd Lieut Felix Baxter
“The enemy could be heard  on the other side of the  parapet,” it stated. “Second- Lieutenant Baxter, while  assisting in the wire cutting,  held a bomb in his hand with  the pin withdrawn ready to  throw.
“On one occasion the bomb  slipped and fell to the ground,  but he instantly picked it up,  unscrewed the base plug, and  took out the detonator, which  he smothered in the ground,  thereby preventing the alarm  being given, and undoubtedly  saving many casualties.
“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  dug-outs, and finally climbed  out of the trench and assisted  the last man over the parapet.”
Sadly, while 39 of the Forty  Thieves made it back to British  lines with their spoils, it was  the last that was seen of their  commanding officer, despite  search parties being sent to  look for him.
He had been badly wounded  in the raid, taken prisoner and  died of his injuries.
His grave was discovered  during the advance in 1918  and he was re-buried, in  Fillièvres British Cemetery.
Edward Felix Baxter was  born at Oldswinford in 1885,  later moving with his family to  Hartlebury near Kidderminster  in Worcestershire.
His brother was a cricketer  in the Birmingham League,  and Felix himself was a keen  motorcyclist, competing in the  Isle of Man TT Races in 1910.
After studying at Christ’s  Hospital in Sussex, he  embarked on a teaching career  at Skerry’s College in Liverpool, marrying Leonora  Cornish in the city in 1906.
The couple had a child, also  called Leonora, who was born  at a house in Falkner Street in  1907.
He was, the ECHO  reported, “well known in  sporting circles in Liverpool  and was a member of the  Liverpool and other motor  clubs.
He took part in many  motor events of importance,  and was not infrequently to be  seen at the racing track at New  Brighton.”On the outbreak of war,  Felix Baxter enlisted in the  Royal Engineers, becoming a  despatch rider, before being commissioned into the 8th  Battalion King’s Liverpool  Regiment in 1915.
Eight months later, he was killed.
In a letter to his wife after his death, his commanding officer related: “The men say his gallantry and coolness were marvellous.”


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