Oliver Henry Cecil Odell was born in Uppingham in 1894, the son of Thomas, a bank manager, and his wife Annie. The family lived at The Cottage in Adderley Street before they moved to Preston. Oliver had two sisters, one elder and one younger. He attended Oakham School between 1907 and 1911. Oliver emigrated to Canada intending to become a farmer but ended up working in insurance. He attested for the Canadian Expeditionary Force on 21 September 1914 and joined the 14th Canadian Infantry Battalion before returning to England and being commissioned in 1/3 Battalion London Regiment (Royal Fusiliers) as a Second Lieutenant on 15 November 1915. He was killed in action during the Battle of the Somme, aged 21, as the British attacked towards Ginchy on September 11. The Battalion war diary says the Fusiliers took over a section of front line in newly-captured Leuze Wood, known to the troops as Lousy Wood. The wood had occupied an important German defensive position as it provided protection to the approaches of Combles, Guillemont and Ginchy. The southern end of Leuze Wood commanded the low ground between Hardecourt and Guillemont. Although not as badly damaged as Delville Wood or High Wood its undergrowth still held evidence of formidable German positions and a huge amount of barbed wire. The Fusiliers' war diary does not mention any casualties on September 10 (the day the Commonwealth War Graves Commission says Oliver died) but on 11 September the diary states: "3rd Guards Brigade attack. Battalion subjected to heavy shelling. Casualties - 1 Officer and 8 ORs [Other Ranks] killed, 2 Officers and 93 ORs wounded." Oliver probably died in this bombardment, in the early hours of 11 September and is buried in grave III.1.4 of Flatiron Copse Cemetery, Mametz. The records of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission give his name as O'Dell, but his birth registration, the war memorial in Preston and the one at Oakham School have Odell. Interestingly, his attestation papers show O'Dell crossed out and replaced by Odell.
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Photograph from the Illustrated London News 3 February 1917
Other sources used above include the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and Great War Forum.
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