29th September 1914

Corporal Walter William Timms, 1st Battalion, Loyal North Lancashire Regiment was killed in action on 29th September 1914. He is commemorated locally on the lychgate memorial at Temple Balsall and on the war memorial plaque in St Peter’s Church, Balsall Common.

His baptism at Berkswell is recorded in parish registers held at Warwickshire County Record Office, and on microfilm at Solihull Central Library, which are now also available on the Ancestry website (free of charge from computers in any Solihull Library). He was baptised on 27th July 1891, to parents Walter Tom (a labourer) and Helen Matilda. Their abode was listed as Balsall.

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26th September 1914

Corporal Claude Percival Wilks, King’s Royal Rifle Corps, was killed in action on 26th September 1914, aged 22. He is commemorated on war memorials at Catherine-de-Barnes, Elmdon, and Solihull.

He was born in Solihull in 1892, to parents Harvey Albert Wilks and Emma (née Neal) who had married in Worcester in 1890, when Harvey was 19 years old and Emma was 22. Emma had been born in Hampton-in-Arden in 1868. The newly-weds set up home in South Claines, Worcestershire, where their eldest son, also Harvey Albert Wilks, was born in 1891. It seems that they had moved back to Solihull by the time of Claude’s birth in 1892, as Soldiers Died in the Great War gives his birthplace as Solihull. Unfortunately, we haven’t been able to find Claude on the 1901 or 1911 census returns, and it seems his service record hasn’t survived, so little is known about his military service.

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21st September 1914

Private George Edward Paston, of 1st Battalion, King’s (Liverpool) Regiment, died of wounds on 21st September 1914, aged 32.

He was born in Berkswell in 1883, and baptised there on 29th July 1883, with parents listed as George (a labourer) and Ann. By the age of 7, he had moved with his parents and siblings to Burton Hastings, on the Warwickshire/Leicestershire border. His younger siblings were born in Stoneleigh, Balsall, and Berskwell, indicating how the family moved around. It looks as if the move to Burton Hastings took place in 1890/1. The family’s move from Berkswell is presumably why George Edward Paston’s name isn’t included on Berkswell war memorial.

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20th September 1914

Private Albert Newell, serving with the 1st Battalion, West Yorkshire Regiment (Prince of Wales’s Own), died on 20th September 1914. He is commemorated on war memorials at Bickenhill and Marston Green.

Soldiers Died in the Great War (available on the Ancestry website, free of charge from library computers) gives his place of birth in Ainsley [sic], Leeds and notes that he enlisted in York. His regimental number was 8208. Unfortunately, it seems that his service record was one of those destroyed by bombing in the Second World War.

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14th September 1914

It appears that the first of the World War I casualties in the field from places now within the Borough of Solihull died on 14th September 1914. This was during the First Battle of the Aisne, which marked the change from mobile warfare to trench warfare.

The locally-commemorated men who died were:

  • Rifleman Robert William Baker, born in Olton
  • Rifleman Eric Gordon Birch, born and lived in Castle Bromwich
  • Private Richard William Choate, commemorated at Olton
  • Captain Lord Guernsey, commemorated at Bickenhill and Forest Hall, Meriden

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5th September 1914

The second casualty from places now within Solihull to die as a result of enemy action appears to be Private William Henry Wright of the Royal Marine Light Infantry (RMLI), also called the Red Marines. He was on board the scout cruiser, H.M.S. Pathfinder, sunk on 5th September 1914 by U-boat U-21 in the North Sea off St Abbs Head, Berwickshire, Scotland with the loss of over 250 men. His name appears in the Birmingham Daily Post 8th September 1914 as one of those missing. This was apparently the first ship ever to be sunk by a locomotive torpedo fired from a submarine.

According to the Royal Navy and Royal Marines War Graves roll on the Ancestry website (available free of charge from computers in Solihull Libraries), William Henry Wright was born in Rowington on 30th October 1895. At the time of the 1901 census, he was still living in Rowington with his parents, John and Anne. John was a general agricultural labourer, who was himself also born in Rowington.

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