Four local men died on 22nd August 1917: Corporal Alfred John Collins, 2nd/4th Battalion, Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry; Private Charles Edmund Frost, 6th Battalion, Somerset Light Infantry; Private Albert Maybury, 2/4th Battalion, Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry; and Private Frederick George Skidmore, 1st/7th Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment. The first three have no known grave and so they are commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial.
Private George Herbert Smith, 9th Company, Machine Gun Corps, died on 10th May 1917, aged 20. He was born in Marston Green and was the second of the five children (three sons, two daughters) of parents James (a railway plate layer) and Florence Mary (née Harvey) who had married at Bickenhill in 1894. Two of their three sons were killed during the First World War – the youngest, Sydney Harvey (1911-1997) was too young to serve in the war.
Two local men lost their lives in France on 29th April 1917, Private Elliott Spencer, “B” Company, 11th Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment, and Private Francis Edward Thornley, 13th Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment.
Private Richard William Adams, 1st/6th Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment was killed in action on 2nd December 1916, as was Private Percy Sears of the Army Service Corps, attached 2nd/1st (South Midland) Field Ambulance.
21-year-old James Enoch Smith died on 25th July 1916, serving as a Private with the Royal Warwickshire Regiment. He was the eldest of five children, and seems to have been named after his father, James Smith, a platelayer on the railway, and his maternal grandfather, Enoch Harvey, a bricklayer. His paternal grandfather, also James Smith, was also a platelayer on the railway.
James Enoch’s parents, James Smith and Florence Mary Harvey, married at St Peter’s Church, Bickenhill on 15th May 1894. James Enoch was born in Bickenhill the following year and, by 1901, the family was living in Marston Green. By 1911, the family had moved to Bradnock’s Marsh, Hampton-in-Arden, although James Enoch was not with his parents and siblings in the family home. We haven’t been able to find him elsewhere on the 1911 census so, if you have any further information, please let us know.
We don’t know when James Enoch Smith enlisted in the Army but he didn’t see service overseas before 1916 as he wasn’t entitled to a 1914 or 1914/15 Star. He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial. He is also commemorated locally on war memorials at Bickenhill and Marston Green.
If you have any further information, please let us know.
Heritage & Local Studies Librarian
tel.: 0121 704 6977
Lance Corporal Collins Jeffreys (sometimes Jeffries) Jones was killed in action during attacks on High Wood, on the Somme, on 22nd July 1916 whilst serving with the 14th Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment. His older brother, Charles Victor Jones, also a Lance Corporal in the Royal Warwickshire Regiment, was killed in the same action on the following day.
Three local men lost their lives on 16th June 1916:
- Corporal Henry Elliott, Royal Warwickshire Regiment
- Bombardier Edward Henry Prince, Royal Field Artillery
- Sergeant Leonard Wilson, Royal Field Artillery
Henry Elliott is buried at the Fauborg d’Amiens Cemetery in Arras, France. Edward Prince and Leonard Wilson are both buried at Hebuterne Military Cemetery in the Pas de Calais, about 20 km south-west of Arras.
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.
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