Sergeant James Henry Carter, 31st Battalion Australian Infantry, died in France on 14th March 1917. He was born in Yardley in 1895, and was the eldest of the six children (four sons, two daughters) of parents James (a gardener) and Mary Elizabeth (née Moore) who had married in Aston in 1894.
31-year-old Private Alfred Knibb was killed in action on 20th August 1916 serving with the 1st/9th Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment. He was born in 1885 in the parish of Tanworth-in-Arden and was the 9th child and youngest son of parents Edwin and Ellen (née Keen). The couple had married in 1867 in Knowle and went on to have 12 children, of whom 11 (five sons, six daughters) were still living by the time of the 1911 census.
Oxfordshire-born Rifleman George Savage was killed in action on 28th July 1916 serving with the King’s Royal Rifle Corps. Born in Hook Norton in 1895, George was the third of six children born to parents John Embra Savage and his wife, Jane (née Radbourn). The couple’s sixth child, Hilda Annie, was born towards the end of 1904, the same year that her mother died so it seems likely that Jane died in childbirth. Hilda died early in 1905.
George’s father died in 1910 and, by 1911, 16-year-old farm labourer George had moved to Warwickshire and was living in Braggs Farm Lane, Dickens Heath, with his aunt and uncle, Jane Mary and Tom Henry Savage.
Fragments of George’s service record have survived. He enlisted in the Army on 26th October 1915 and was in the UK until embarking for France on 17th March 1916 where he served until his death just over four months later. In May 1916 he was placed on a charge for using insubordinate language to his superior officer. One of the fragments of paper in the service file seem to relate to a different soldier, as they suggest a birth in 1884 (11 years earlier than “our” George) as well as a marriage in 1905 (when George would only have been ten years old) and four children, the eldest born in 1908 (when George would have been 13).
Other fragments in the service record show that George’s eldest brother, John Henry, wrote to the War Office asking for details of the circumstances of George’s death. John also provided details of his siblings on the next-of-kin form. He listed:
- John Henry Savage, aged 30, The Green, Meriden
- Ted [Edwin] Savage, aged 28, 9 Kingsland Road, Canton, Cardiff
- Thomas Savage, aged 23, Lower Eastern Green, Coventry
- Nellie [Selina Ellen] Savage, aged 21, 54 Middleton Rd, Banbury
Rifleman George Savage was killed on an otherwise quiet day, when his battalion relieved the 15th Welsh Regiment in the front line trenches. He is buried at Hebuterne Communal Cemetery, and is also commemorated locally on the war memorial at St Patrick’s Church, Salter Street. His name is also recorded on the Hook Norton war memorial.
If you have any further information about the family, please let us know.
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11 local men lost their lives on 23rd July 1916, eight of them whilst serving with the 14th (1st Birmingham) Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment (1st Birmingham Pals), and one from the 15th Battalion (2nd Birmingham Pals).
Unpublished research by the late Alan Tucker gives the following summary of the day as regards the 14th Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment:
At 10pm on 22nd July, the 14th Battalion joined in an attack on Wood Lane, with High Wood on their left. This was part of a general British attack from Guillemont to Pozieres. There was to be a five and a half hour bombardment of the German lines, with two hour concentrated shelling of the German front line before zero hour. At 10 minutes to zero, the attacking troops were to advance under the cover of an artillery barrage until they were close to the German line, and then to lie down and wait for the barrage to lift at zero. All ranks were warned: ‘hesitation is fatal… a quick bayonet charge is certain to have the required effect.’
At 9.55pm, the Germans opened ‘overwhelming machine gun and infantry fire’ and British troops were ‘cut to bits’.
Two companies from the 15th Battalion were later sent in to support the right flank of the attack, but they lost their way and were not used.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission debt of honour website records 184 casualties from the 14th Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment on 22nd/23rd July, which Alan Tucker’s research suggests was the largest number of casualties for the regiment since that of the 1/8 Battalion on the first day of the Somme. Our local casualties on 23rd July 1916 were:
- Lance Corporal Thomas Reginald Hanson MM, from Olton (14th Bn)
- Lance Corporal Charles Victor Jones, from Hampton-in-Arden (14th Bn) (whose brother, Collins, had died in the same action on the previous day)
- Lance Corporal Bernard Robert Lewis, from Shirley (15th Bn)
- Company Serjeant Major Robert Malin, from Hampton-in-Arden (14th Bn)
- Private Stuart Orford Nickson, from Solihull (14th Bn)
- Private John Nix, from Knowle (14th Bn)
- Private Charles Gordon Troman, from Solihull (14th Bn)
- Private Stanley Arthur Vint, from Olton (14th Bn)
- Private Frederick John Wyatt, from Castle Bromwich (14th Bn)
In addition, there were two local casualties serving with other regiments:
- Lance Corporal Thomas Harry Everard Allman, from Olton (Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry)
- Private William Walter Harris, from Salter Street (Gloucestershire Regiment)
Seven men with a connection to Solihull or Shirley are known to have died on 1st July 1916:
- Private James Burton, Middlesex Regiment
- Private Harold Clifton, Royal Warwickshire Regiment
- Private Frederick Percy Cooper, Royal Warwickshire Regiment
- Second Lieutentant William Henry Furse, Northumberland Fusiliers
- Private John Palmer Lyndon, Royal Warwickshire Regiment
- Private Richard James Smith, Royal Warwickshire Regiment
- Private James Webster, 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.
William Hands Perkins was born in 1892 in Weston-sub-Edge, Gloucestershire, and was baptised there on 27th November 1892, the sixth child of George Frederick Perkins (a labourer) and his wife, Rose (née Court). William was killed in action at the age of 23 on 7th December 1915 serving as a Private in the 6th Battalion Oxford and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry.
At first sight, it’s not clear why he’s commemorated locally at Hockley Heath and Umberslade. Soldiers Died in the Great War gives his birthplace and residence as Weston-sub-Edge, although he enlisted in Birmingham. His parents appear to have remained in Weston all their lives, as did his youngest brother, Allen Nelson Perkins, whose burial, aged 71, is recorded in the parish registers there in 1971. William himself is recorded on the 1901 census in Weston but isn’t there with his parents in 1911 and we haven’t been able to track him down elsewhere.
However, researching William’s siblings sheds some light on the local connection. Although in Gloucestershire, Weston-sub-Edge is only about 26 miles from Hockley Heath and, as is often the case with migration, it looks as if one family member moved first, to be then followed by others.
Private Thomas Henry Parkes, from Solihull and Hockley Heath, died of wounds on 24th October 1915 at Gallipoli, serving with the 8th Battalion, Duke of Wellington’s (West Riding Regiment). He was the youngest of the seven surviving children (out of 12 born) of parents William Parkes, a bricklayer, and his wife Rhoda (née Hayes) who had married at St Alphege Church, Solihull on 27th July 1874.
19-year-old Lance Sergeant Alfred Arculus of Earlswood was killed in action on 26th September 1915 whilst serving with the 2nd Battalion, Worcestershire Regiment. A pre-war regular soldier, he enlisted on 6th March 1914, aged 18 years and 171 days, giving his occupation as a farm labourer. He was promoted Lance Corporal on 28th July 1914 and was mobilised 0n 5th August 1914, spending time at Millbrook training camp in Plymouth from 9th August until 17th December 1914. During this time he was promoted Corporal on 5th October. On 18th December, he was moved to Fort Tregantle in south-east Cornwall, which was used for musketry training, and embarked for France on 27th December 1914.