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BYRD, Cecil Henry (1896-1918) – Lance Corporal, Machine Gun Corps (Infantry)

Cecil Henry Byrd moved to Badsey from Bretforton in 1906.  Corporal Byrd’s name is recorded on the war memorial in St James’ Church, Badsey, and at Badsey School.

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Cecil Henry Bryd was born at Bretforton on 23rd March 1896, the eldest son of William Henry and Bessie Byrd.  Cecil had two younger brothers (Sidney and Roy) and four younger sisters (Ida, Winifred, Christabel and Freda).

In November 1906, the Byrd family moved from Bretforton to Badsey, moving into a new house at Cotswold View, Willersey Road (present-day No 44).  The five eldest children enrolled at Badsey Council School, having all previously been at Bretforton School.  Cecil left school in 1909 and began working for a market gardener.

Tragedy hit the family when, on 16th May 1912, 12-year-old Winifred died after a fortnight’s illness.  Three and a half years later, 11-year-old Roy also died.

An Evesham Journal report of 1916 reveals that Cecil Byrd appeared at a tribunal for exemption.  He was then working as a gardener’s labourer for Charles Harris, who was foreman for W H Thomas who was on service.  He was granted temporary exemption until 1st September 1916.  He then enlisted with the Machine Gun Corps (Infantry).

The Parish Magazine reveals that Cecil Byrd was gassed on 17th March 1918 and, while in hospital, developed trench fever.  After spending three months in hospital at Chatham in Kent he went home on leave in July.  On reporting to Norton Barracks at the end of his leave, he was again ordered to hospital where alarming symptoms were soon observed.  The report in the August 1918 magazine was not favourable:  “We regret to have to announce that Cpl C Byrd’s recent illness has had serious and unexpected developments and that he now lies in a grave condition at Norton Military Hospital.”

Cecil Byrd died on the evening of Sunday 11th August, Driver E Pillinger, who was also a patient at Norton, being with him when he passed away.  The September 1918 magazine reported on his burial at Badsey:

He was buried with military honours at Badsey the following Thursday.  The coffin, covered with the Union Jack, was carried shoulder-high from the deceased soldier’s home to the church, the bearer party, under Cpl G E Jones, and the firing party, under Sergt J Barnard, being made up of local members of the VTC.  An escort from Worcester under Sergt A Spink was also in attendance.  The service was choral throughout and the “Last Post” was sounded by Bugler D O’Sullivan.  The funeral arrangements were in the hands of Mr Stribblehill, who, as on the occasion of Cpl Cleveley’s funeral, kindly gave his services.

Cecil’s parents remained living at Willersey Road and were left to mourn the third of their seven children who had died.