21-year-old John Henry Upton died of wounds on 7th October 1917, serving with 1/6 Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment. He was the second of the four children of parents John Garfield Upton (a cab man) and Caroline (née Briscoe) who had married in Birmingham in 1894.
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
Private Samuel Chew, 5th Battalion Berkshire Regiment, died of wounds on 17th September 1917. He was born in Birmingham in 1898 and was the youngest of the three children of parents, Richard (a hawker of salt) and Ada (née Wood). He had an older sister Annie (1893-1925) and an older brother, Richard (1895-1954).
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.
19-year-old Private Hubert Simpson was killed in action on 10th August 1917, serving with the 11th Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment. He was born in Birmingham in 1898, and was the youngest of the two children born to parents Joseph (a machinist) and Emily (née Davis) who had married at St Paul’s Church, Birmingham in October 1886. Their eldest child, Clarisse, was born in 1895.
Former Marston Green Cottage Homes residents, Samuel Richardson and Frederick Stevenson both died in France on Easter Monday, 9th April 1917, serving as Privates in the Armed Forces. Private Richardson was with the 78th Battalion Canadian Infantry, whilst Private Stevenson was serving with the 2/7th Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment. Both men are commemorated on the Marston Green Cottage Homes war memorial.
Private Ernest Lockley, 1st Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment was killed in action on 12th October 1916. Born in Birmingham in 1892, he was the third of the five children (three sons, two daughters) of parents Thomas (a brass caster) and Sarah Ann.
The local connection is that it seems Ernest was an inmate of Marston Green Cottage Homes, probably sometime between 1901 and 1909. His two younger sisters – Alice May (born 1895) and Nellie (born 1899) were both listed as inmates there on the 1911 census. By this time, Ernest would have been 18 years old and, therefore, too old to be resident in a children’s home. It wasn’t until 1918 that the school leaving age was raised from 12 to 14 although, typically, Poor Law Institutions would apprentice out children from the age of 14.
Four local men are known to have died on 15th September 1916 as a result of their war service: Private Edmund Dixon, Coldstream Guards, was killed in action and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial, as are Rifleman Arthur McKenzie, King’s Royal Rifle Corps and Captain Eric King Parsons, Rifle Brigade. Lieutenant Euan Louis Mylne MC, 2nd Battalion Irish Guards also died of wounds on the same day.
Private Thomas Davis, 10th Battalion Canadian Infantry, died on 11th September 1916 serving in France. He was born in Birmingham c. 1890. By 1901, it appears that his father had died and he was living in a three-roomed back-to-back house (1 Court 4, Pickford Street) with his widowed mother, Ann, and three siblings, aged 8-15. Ann was working as a charwoman, and also had three boarders living in the house with her and her children.