29th April 1915

32-year-old Captain (Temporary Acting Major) Godfrey Barker was killed on 29th April 1915, serving in Gallipoli with the Drake Battalion, Royal Naval Division, Royal Marine Light Infantry (R.M.L.I). He was the fourth son of Colonel Sir Francis William James Barker (1841-1924) and Charlotte Jessie (nee Foster) and was born in Malta on 13th January 1883. He attended King’s Edward School, Birmingham before going on to the Royal Naval College, Greenwich.

He was gazetted Second Lieutenant with the R.M.L.I. on 1st September 1901 and was promoted to Lieutenant on 1st July 1902. In the 1911 census, he is recorded as a Lieutenant in the Royal Marines at Deal, Kent. He became a Captain on 1st September 1912, exactly eleven years after his first commission. An announcement was made by the Admiralty on 13th January 1914 to the effect that Captain Barker had been placed on the retired list at his own request. His retirement lasted for only eight months. He rejoined the Colours on 13th September 1914, just over a month after was was declared, and he saw action the following month at the siege of Antwerp with the Portsmouth Battalion (Officer Commanding MGs Royal Marine Brigade). On 9th November 1914 he was appointed Temporary Major, then going to the Dardanelles as Adjutant of the Drake Battalion.

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5th September 1914

The second casualty from places now within Solihull to die as a result of enemy action appears to be Private William Henry Wright of the Royal Marine Light Infantry (RMLI), also called the Red Marines. He was on board the scout cruiser, H.M.S. Pathfinder, sunk on 5th September 1914 by U-boat U-21 in the North Sea off St Abbs Head, Berwickshire, Scotland with the loss of over 250 men. His name appears in the Birmingham Daily Post 8th September 1914 as one of those missing. This was apparently the first ship ever to be sunk by a locomotive torpedo fired from a submarine.

According to the Royal Navy and Royal Marines War Graves roll on the Ancestry website (available free of charge from computers in Solihull Libraries), William Henry Wright was born in Rowington on 30th October 1895. At the time of the 1901 census, he was still living in Rowington with his parents, John and Anne. John was a general agricultural labourer, who was himself also born in Rowington.

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