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Pte Harry Upex, 6th Batt Northamptonshire Regiment


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Harry Upex is one of 135 men I've been researching for over a year from the village of Warmington, Northamptonshire.  He is the one I have the most information about but there is, of course, still more that I would like to find out.  Members of his family still live in the village and they have letters which Harry wrote to his wife.  To summarise:  Harry married Lizzie on 28 July 1918 and returned to his Regiment, sailing over on 7 August 1918.  On 31 August 1918 he sent a prisoner of war card to his wife.  Letter dated 11 September 1918 from Capt Chalmers says, 'I much regret to inform you that your husband 20163 Pte H Upex was found to be missing after an attack on the morning of 31st.8.18.  I think there is a great probability that he was taken prisoner as his body was not found among the dead when we cleaned up the battle field afterwards'.  There are five letters from Harry to his wife while he was a POW; the last was dated 2 November 1918.  The address he gave was Gustrow i.M (Germany), Friedrichsfeld (A).  Then, a letter from Capt E W Edwards, 21st Canadian Battalion, dated 26 November 1918 and from Spy, Belgium.  This includes, 'He was taken prisoner by the huns and had to do a great deal of hard labour without proper food and shelter.  When the huns retired from this town they left the prisoners to their fate.  The civilian hospital immediately provided for them and everything is being done that can be for them.'  Capt Edwards added a note later telling Lizzie that Harry had died that evening.

My question is about Harry's experience as a prisoner of war and why he would have ended up in Spy, Belgium?  Capt Edwards also talks of 'them' so there must have been other former POWs in the hospital.  Harry's is the only CWG in Spy Communal Cemetery.

On a more cheerful note, I found and contacted Capt Edwards' grand-daughter in Canada earlier this year to express thanks for his kindness to Harry in 1918.  She is coming over to Warmington for a week to be with us on Remembrance Sunday, staying with the Upex family.


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My guess would be that Harry's captivity was only administered by the camp/s, but the reality was that he was used as forced labour much further forward.






A Red Cross PoW enquiry card - link



He has a surviving will - see here. It may well only consist of a very few words, and add little or no additional info to what you already know. It would come as a low resolution black and white scan of the original, and be of questionable value for money.






Edited by clk
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Many thanks, Chris.  May it be the case that he was never actually in Germany?



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Hopefully Steve Beeby will see this post 



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If you were to need one, it looks like the good folk at British War Graves may be able to send you a decent quality image of his grave stone, on a FOC basis. I looked in the war diary for the 21st Canadian Battalion to see if there was anything specific, but there was only a brief reference to them having passed through Spy. I doubt that it would have anything, but if you know the first name of Captain Edwards, you could look at his service record on the very remote chance that it might have something - search page here.






Edwin Wesley Edwards has a 98 page file, but as suspected nothing relevant in it.

Edited by clk
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Steve Beeby here. No pressure from Michelle there! Thanks!


Hello Kathryn,


I will try to add a little bit on Harry Upex where I can. I will include his brother, John WIlliam Upex, as well since both had consecutive numbers.


20163 Harry Upex

  • Harry's number dates to being issued on the 14 July 1915, give or take a day.
  • Soldiers Died in the Great War shows he was resident at Warmington and enlisted at Coventry (as did William) - I have no explanation as to why!
  • Harry and William both enlisted together and went overseas to the same battalion at the same time. I assume they had the same training experience.
  • It is most likely that Harry and William Trained with the 8th (2nd Reserve) Battalion at Colchester. This battalion had originally been intended as a further "service battalion" i.e. intended for overseas service but was converted to a Reserve/training battalion in April 1915.
  • Harry Upex embarked overseas to the Western Front on 20 October 1915. He initially served with the 7th Battalion, not the 6th, joining the 7th Battalion as a reinforcement following heavy casualties at the battle of Loos (25 - 27 September 1915).
  • It is difficult to say how long he remained with the 7th Battalion for before switching to the 6th. The next record I have is a wounding in late 1917.
  • The Absent Voters list for Warmington (usually relevant for mid 1918) records him as 20163 Private Harry Upex, Church Lane, Warmington and just notes "Northants Regt" against his name. Incidentally, Arthur Richard Upex is also listed as "108333 Dvr. 852 M.T. ASC" (Driver, 852 Motor Transport Company, Army Service Corps, part of 27th Division in Salonika).
  • 20163 Private H Upex of Warmington was reported as Wounded per the Official Casualty Lists of 5-1-1918 (Warmington). The date refers to the publication of the list and not the date of wounding which was generally about 4-6 weeks prior (making the date of wounding as late November to early December 1917).
  • The Official Casualty Lists don't state the battalion that the man was serving with so we can only guess as to what battalion they were wounded with. They do tend to be group by the men included on a specific report sent by battalion adjutants. In this case most of the men (about 2/3rds of those I can identify) on the list are 5th Battalion men. The 5th Battalion men would have been wounded in the offensive and German counter-attack at Cambrai in late November 1917. The men in other units would likely have been wounded around the same time.
  • The above wounding seems to fit in with him being back in the UK for his marriage before returning to France in August 1918 just prior to his capture.
  • He is listed on the Register of Soldiers Effects as "Harry Upox" - the cause of death there is given as "sickness" but place of death is listed as "?"
  • I can't add anything further to his death as a POW, just to agree with the above in that it "feels" like he was a POW being used as additional labour behind the lines instead of being sent to Germany.


 20162 John William Upex (shown as William Upex on some records)

  • William's number also dates to being issued on the 14 July 1915, give or take a day.
  • Also resident at Warmington and enlisted at Coventry per SDGW
  • Again he would have trained with the 8th Battalion at Colchester
  • John William Upex embarked overseas to the Western Front on 20 October 1915. He initially served with the 7th Battalion, not the 6th, joining the 7th Battalion as a reinforcement following heavy casualties at the battle of Loos (25 - 27 September 1915).
  • 20162 Private J. W. Upex was reported as Wounded per the Times of 29-9-1916 - this suggests that he was wounded during 7th Battalion's attack on Guillemont on the Somme on 18 August 1916.
  • I presume that after recovering from his wounds, William went back to the Western Front and was posted to the 6th Battalion.
  • Private John William Upex was Killed in Action with 6th Bn. on 20-10-1917, age 25.
  • The war diary notes that they were in the line at Poelcapelle on 20-10-1917. There was intermittent shelling and a "whizzbang" (small shell) "entered dugout V9 at about 5pm". The battalion was relieved from the front line by another battalion at 6pm.
  • With no known grave, John William Upex is commemorated on the TYNE COT MEMORIAL.
  • CWGC lists him as "Son of John and Louisa Jane Upex, of Warmington, Peterborough."


Incidentally Harry and John William's nephew (also John William Upex, son of Arthur Richard) was a neighbour of my family when I was young - he lived half a dozen doors up from us in Peterborough.


I will try and see if I have anything else. Have you reviewed the local newspapers for articles about their deaths, etc.





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Steve - Thank you so much for all this valuable information.  There were nine Upex men from Warmington who served in WW1 - from three sets of parents, all related.  Harry's sister apparently said that John William had died in the arms of his brother, Harry but I have no proof of this.  You may also see my previous post about James Albert Elijah Upex and his death at the Bagtsche POW Hospital.  Very interesting that you lived near another member of the Upex family; Arthur Richard Upex is one of the 135 named on the Warmington Roll of Honour.  You may be interested in an event I'm organising to present the information on the men from the Roll of Honour on Saturday, 15 September.  Which is the most appropriate section on this forum to promote this?


Thanks again.

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