22nd December 1914

Private John Charles Smith was killed in action at Givenchy on 22nd December 1914, aged 21. He died just over four months after enlisting in the Coldstream Guards.

According to the information in De Ruvigny’s Roll of Honour, he was the third son of Joseph and Ann Smith of Park Lane Corner, Berkswell. He was born on 12th April 1893 at Temple Balsall and was educated at Burton Green, near Kenilworth, and Temple Balsall. He enlisted on 18th August 1914 and was posted to France in December, shortly before he was killed.

He is commemorated at Berkswell and he is one of more than 13,400 soldiers with no known grave who is commemorated on the Le Touret Memorial, Pas de Calais, France.

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7th December 1914

Private Arthur Stenson died of wounds at the 19th Field Ambulance, serving with the 2nd Battalion Royal Welsh Fusiliers. The Commonwealth War Graves website gives his date of death as 9th December, although Soldiers Died in the Great War and Register of Soldiers’ Effects both record him as dying on 7th December.

Born in Birmingham in 1887, Arthur was living in Marston Green Cottage Homes by the 1891 census when he was three years old. He was still there ten years later, aged 14, and working as a bricklayer’s labourer’s boy. Cottage Homes were established in the 19th century to house children who would otherwise have gone into the workhouse. The intention was to keep children away from the adult inmates who could be bad influences. Many Cottage Homes educated the children, sometimes even better than they would have been outside the Homes, and taught them a trade so that they would be able to earn a living once they left.

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