Two local men lost their lives on active service on 23rd December 1917 – Sergeant Walter Henry Mitchell, 111th Company, Machine Gun Corps, and Able Seaman John Henry Williams, Royal Naval Reserve, serving on HMS Surprise.
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.
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.
Four local men died on 23rd April 1917: Private John Evelyn Biddle and Private James Miles, both of the 11th Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment; Lance Corporal Thomas Abel Holmes, of 1st Battalion Devonshire Regiment, and Captain Edward Maurice Gonner M.C., of the 16th Church Lads Brigade Battalion, King’s Royal Rifle Corps.
36-year-old Private Thomas Walter Haynes, 4th Battalion King’s (Liverpool) Regiment, and 22-year-old Corporal Horace Timmins, 15th Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment (1st Birmingham Pals) both died on 29th August 1916.
Both men were born in Birmingham, although Thomas Haynes was living in Knowle before joining the Army. Horace Timmins’ local connection is that he spent time living at Marston Green Cottage Homes where his mother, Emma, was a foster mother.
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
Two men from Castle Bromwich and one from Marston Green died on the first day of the First Battle of the Somme
- Private John Thomas Churchill, Royal Warwickshire Regiment
- Lieutenant Robert Quilter Gilson, Suffolk Regiment
- Private Harry Rudd, Royal Warwickshire Regiment
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.