The first of the 82 casualties from the Solihull area to die in 1915 was Royal Naval Chaplain, Rev. George Brooke Robinson, who died on New Year’s Day 1915 whilst serving on H.M.S. Formidable. This was the first British battleship to be sunk in the First World War. Rev. Robinson was the most senior Royal Navy chaplain to die in the war, and the fourth of 19 navy chaplains to be die on active service 1914-1919.
Born in Bombay, India on 6th April 1870, George Brooke Robinson appears on the 1881 census, aged 10, at boarding school in Brighton. By 1891, he was living in Cambridge with his widowed mother, Agnes. He studied at Pembroke College, Cambridge, obtaining a B.A. in 1894, and an M.A. in 1898. He was ordained as a Deacon in December 1895 at Worcester Cathedral, and served as curate at Solihull 1895-97. Traditionally, the curate at St Alphege took charge of the Mission Church at Catherine-de-Barnes, which is why his name appears on the village war memorial there. Unusually, the war memorial at Catherine-de-Barnes takes the form of a brass plaque on an oak font.