Hartlebury Lieutenant Edward Felix Baxter V.C.
We are all rather proud in Hartlebury of the village's connection with Lieutenant
Baxter V.C. The Victoria Cross our country's highest award for bravery was awarded
to him for an action on the night of 17th -
Lieutenant Baxter the second son of Mr. Charles. A. Baxter and Mrs. Beatrice. A. Baxter was born at Oldswinford, Stourbridge on the 18th September 1885. He enrolled at Hartlebury Grammar School in May 1894, when his parents came to live at 'Ivy Crest, Inn Lane. He went on to further his education at Christ's Hospital, Horsham, Sussex, he left the school on the 31st July 1901, it was suggested on his leaving report that he intended to follow a career in banking. He did for a time work for the United Counties Bank.
At the outbreak of war we find that he had become a schoolmaster at Skerry's College, Liverpool. He was married by this time; his marriage certificate states Edward Felix Baxter (Schoolmaster) married Leonora Mary Cornish (A spinster bom 21st September 1896) at West Derby Registry Office on 24th February 1906. They had one daughter Leonora Frances Baxter bom on the 11th June 1907 at 147 Faulkner Street, Abercromby, Liverpool. He enlisted in Liverpool 4th September 1914 as No. 32072 ROYAL ENGINEERS. His enlistment papers reveal that he was a tutor, he was 6 foot tall, weight 156 Ibs., complexion sallow, hair and eyes brown, religion C of E. He served as a despatch rider attached to HQ Staff in Rodney Street, Liverpool under Brigadier Edwards and Colonel Von Stomm. He was promoted to Sergeant, then he transferred and was commissioned a year later into the 1/8th (Irish) Battalion, The King's (Liverpool Regiment).
An extract from the 'London Gazette,' dated 26th September 1916, records the following:
"For the most conspicuous bravery. Prior to a 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in the wire cutting, held a bomb in his hand with the pin withdrawn ready to throw.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-
He died on Tuesday, 18th April 1916. Aged 30, and is buried in Fillievres British Cemetery, Pas de Calais, France. His will stated that his address was 5 Blantyre Road, Liverpool and that he left £212.8s.5d. Property returned to his widow included a cigarette case, a silver matchbox, and two knives. In May 1916 his wife was living at 3 Roden Avenue, Kidderminster.
No greater testimony to the valour of Lieutenant Baxter is required than that paid by Colonel Fagan, who, in a letter to Mrs. Baxter explaining the circumstances of his death, added, "The raid was successful, due to a great extent to the gallantry and resource of your husband. The men say his gallantry and coolness were marvellous. He had not been with the battalion very long, but we had realised what a splendid fellow he was. I have lost one of my best officers."
Similarly his fellow officers speak in the highest terms of him, and one of his men, wounded in the same raid, described him as the most popular officer in the regiment and an officer and a gentleman.
Of such a man it can truly be said that he bought honour both to his regiment and
to the city whose name it bore. Heroism is not an uncommon feature of the operations
of the British Army, but even in heroism there are degrees, and it required conduct
of outstanding merit before the award of the Victoria Cross -