Cyril Harley Panter was born in Drake’s Broughton, near Pershore in 1900. He was the son of Alfred James, a joiner and Nellie his wife. The following year the family of six moved to Littleworth Street, Evesham. However their stay in Evesham was short lived, as Cyril’s younger sister Gwendoline was born in Malvern Link in 1902.
By the time of the 1911 Census, the Panter family were living at 4 Redland Road, Malvern Link and Cyril attended Malvern Link Council School (now Somers Park Primary School).
At the age of 18, Cyril was called up and trained in the United Kingdom for service abroad. The acute manpower shortage led to the reduction in age of men liable for overseas service from 19 to 18, and he landed in France as a draft to the Royal Berkshire Regiment in summer 1918 (probably in August).
Posted to reinforce the 8th (Service) Battalion, Royal Berkshire Regiment, Cyril was tragically killed along with other members of his draft by a shell that exploded accidentally at Mericourt L’Abbe railway station, near Arras, while the men were travelling up to join their battalion. The Battalion War Diary records that
A draft of 120 men arrived on 7th September , this draft should have consisted of 176 men, but on the way up to join the Battalion, 56 men became casualties, through the explosion of a shell at MERICOURT STATION.
The death toll was 21 killed and 34 wounded in this horrific incident. Cyril along with the other fatal casualties were buried at Mericourt L’Abbe Communal Cemetery.
By the end of the war, Cyril’s parents were living at 4 Spring Gardens, Malvern Link. As a poignant reminder of this young life taken so tragically, his scarf remains with his family.
Jenny Chippendale 2018
War Diary 8th Royal Berkshire Regiment 1918 (The National Archives: WO 95/2037)