Brothers in Arms

In an age of larger families, it wasn’t unusual for a couple to have more than one of their children serving in the Armed Forces and, indeed, to have more than one child killed.

Local families we know of where several siblings served are: Continue reading “Brothers in Arms”


Auxiliary Hospitals

In 1909, the British Red Cross was tasked with helping the Territorial Forces Medical Service in the event of war. It set up local units called ‘Voluntary Aid Detachments’, and members were trained in first aid and nursing.

Image of nurses at The Hermitage
V.A.D. nurses at The Hermitage, Lode Lane, Solihull

Auxiliary Hospitals, attached to military hospitals, were established – the following are known to have operated in Solihull:

  • Berkswell Rectory (opened 26th May 1915)
  • Fentham Institute, Hampton-in-Arden
  • Norton Cottage, Knowle
  • Springfield Hall, Knowle
  • Ivy Cottage, Marston Green (opened 6th September 1915)
  • Olton Congregational Church Room (opened 9th February 1915)
  • The Hermitage, Solihull (opened 18th November 1914)

Do you know of any more?

The British Red Cross Society holds records of V.A.D. nurses, and will search the records for you if you make a request in writing. Details of some V.A.D. nurses who served overseas are also available on the Find My Past website (this is available free of charge from library computers in Solihull, otherwise a subscription is required to view the records).

If you have any relatives from places now within the Solihull Borough who served as V.A.D. nurses, please let us know. You can leave a comment here, or email us at or phone us on 0121 704 6934.

Heritage & Local Studies Librarian

Captain Robert Jacobs

Captain Robert Jacobs of the Royal Army Medical Corps died of wounds on 20th July 1918, aged 39, after an enemy bomb fell on his billet.

He was born in London (his family moved to Solihull between 1901-1911) and he enlisted as a Private in the City of London Sanitary Company two days after the war began. He rose to the rank of Captain within 10 months, and served on the front continuously from his arrival in France on Christmas Day, 1914.

Robert Jacobs’ father, James, died in Spring 1911, so the War Office’s telegram advising of Robert’s death was sent to his mother. She also received a photograph of his grave, marked with a wooden battlefield cross, which was replaced by a Portland Stone memorial in the 1920s/30s.

Photo of Capt Jacobs' grave
Photograph sent to his mother, showing the battlefield cross on his grave (Solihull Library ref.: D3/2)

Captain Jacobs is commemorated on the RAMC in the Great War website.

His family gave his medals, and the next-of-kin memorial plaque and scroll they received to Solihull Central Library, as well as the photo of his grave and the telegram sent to his mother notifying his death. These will all be on display in our forthcoming ‘Solihull Remembers’ exhibition.

If you have any more information about him, we’d be delighted to hear from you – please do let us know (email or phone 0121 704 6934).

Heritage & Local Studies Librarian

More September 1914 casualties

Three more men from places now within the Solihull Borough are known to have died in September 1914. They were:

  • Private Albert Newell, of West Yorkshire Regiment (Prince of Wales’s Own), died 20th September 1914. He’s commemorated at Bickenhill and Marston Green.
  • Private George Edward Paston, of King’s (Liverpool Regiment), died 21st September 1914, aged 32. He was apparently born in Berkswell but was living with his wife and his son at his father-in-law’s home in Leicester. His peace-time occupation was a brick-burner. As far as we know, he’s not commemorated in the Solihull Borough, so please tell us if you know differently.
  • Corporal Claude Percival Wilks, of the 2nd Battalion, King’s Royal Rifle Corps, died 26th September 1914. He’s commemorated on memorials at Catherine-de-Barnes, Elmdon and Solihull.

If you have any information about any of these soldiers, please let us know – email or phone 0121 704 6934.

Heritage & Local Studies Librarian

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