34-year-old Lance Corporal George Johnson, 11th Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment, died of wounds in France on 4th January 1918. He was born in Marton, Warwickshire on 29th September 1883 and was the seventh of the twelve children of parents, William (a farm labourer) and Emma (née Hobday) who had married at Stretton on Dunsmore on Christmas Day, 1870.
Lieutenant Lancelot John Barrington Walters lost his life in the sinking of HMS Partridge in the North Sea. On the same day, Private Alfred Humphriss Saunt, Army Service Corps, died of wounds at Queen Mary’s Military Hospital, Whalley, Lancashire.
Private Neville Bradford Woollaston was killed in action on 7th November serving with the 15th Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment. He was born in Shirley in 1894 and was registered as Bradford Neville Woollaston. However, he was known as Neville and his first names were transposed in most records.
Two local men lost their lives on 23rd October 1917 whilst on active service in Flanders with the Royal Garrison Artillery. Acting Bombardier William Brookes Hadley was serving with “G” Anti-Aircraft Battery, whilst Acting Bombardier Herbert John Snow was with the 155th Heavy Battery.
Two local men from Shirley were killed in action in Belgium on 11th October 1917. Private James Edwards, aged 41, died serving with the 1st Battalion, Coldstream Guards and Private William John Worrall was killed with the 2nd Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment.
Nine local men lost their lives on 4th October 1917 whilst on active service:
- Lance Corporal Edwin John Adams, 14th Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment
- Private Eric Ashley Ellis, 13th Company, Machine Gun Corps (Infantry)
- Sergeant Charles Haynes, 1st/5th Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment
- Second Lieutenant Albert Bertini Heywood, 10th Battalion, King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry
- Private Lewis James Knight, 30th Battalion, Australian Infantry
- Lance Corporal George Henry Pegg, 1st/6th Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment
- Private William Savage, 1st Battalion, Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry
- Private William Thomas Tropman, 1st/8th Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment
- Gunner Arthur Whinfrey, 256th Siege Battery, Royal Garrison Artillery
26th September 1917 saw the official opening of Solihull Cemetery, described in the opening brochure as being at the junction of Robin Hood Road and Olton Road, although the cemetery’s address is now usually given as Streetsbrook Road.
The 42-acre-site was chosen as the most suitable place for a cemetery, as it is “easy of access from all parts and is sufficiently removed from the residential districts not to be in any way detrimental to the same.”
Five local men were killed in action on 20th September 1917. This was the first day of the Battle of the Menin Road Ridge, which lasted until 25th September and marked a change in British infantry tactics.
Although previous attacks had penetrated the lightly-defended German front lines, exhausted troops then came under sustained counter-attack and failed to penetrate the second line. The new strategy was designed to attack a small part of the front line, first with heavy bombardment, and then by troops in strength under a creeping barrage 1000 yards deep, protecting the advancing infantry. Once through the lines and having reached their objectives, troops were then to stop and dig in. A second wave of infantry could then pass through to attack the next objective.
Local men who lost their lives in this action were:
- Private Richard Sydney Greaves, 6th Battalion, Wiltshire Regiment
- Private Thomas Henry Lloyd, 10th Battalion, Worcestershire Regiment
- Sergeant Septimus Price, 6th Battalion, Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry
- Corporal Percy John Shirley, 10th Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment
- Sergeant Harry Taylor, 10th Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment
Rifleman Charles James Skidmore, 17th Battalion, King’s Royal Rifle Corps died of wounds on 6th September 1917. He was born in Olton in 1894, and was the seventh of the 10 children (four sons, six daughters) of parents Frederick William (a gardener) and Ellen (née Cleaver). Eldest son, John, died in April 1880, aged 16 days. The family lived in the Solihull area from about 1880-1895, before moving to Willicote, Stratford-upon-Avon.