100 years ago today, 4th August 1914, the horrors of what was to come over the next four years could not have been imagined. Almost every family and every community would be affected by loss and tragedy. Many of those who returned were never able to speak of what they had witnessed and experienced. Many families never recovered from the loss of their loved ones.
Local communities in what is now the Borough of Solihull have their own memorials, and there are events being held locally to commemorate those who served and who died from each area. However, it’s clear that people did live in wider social networks and we know of many casualties who appear on more than one village war memorial, reflecting multiple associations with local places.
At Solihull Council, we are aiming to compile a complete list of those with a connection to places now within the Borough (or in the old Solihull Rural District) who died as a result of their service in the First World War. It’s very much a work in progress, as it’s often not a simple task to identify the correct individual from a brief entry on a war memorial. Staff at Solilhull Heritage & Local Studies Service are immensely grateful to all those people across the Borough who have kindly shared their research and knowledge to ensure we are able to record as many details as possible about the 700+ individuals so far identified. Special thanks must go to Jill Chape and David Gimes who have been diligent researchers and generous in sharing what they have found. Our task would have been much more difficult without their help, and that of Clive Hinsull, whose research on those who served from the Heart of England will be published shortly.
Over the next four years, and beyond, our aim is to remember individually by name all of those from places now in the Borough who died as a result of their war service. Using the hashtag #SolihullRemembers, we’ll be blogging and tweeting their names on the centenary of their deaths, together with as much information about their lives as we can find. It’s important to remember that the names on memorials are associated with real people, who had jobs, interests and families that they left behind. If you can add anything to the information we have, please get in touch. Most of the sources to which we have access focus more on official, bureaucratic records, rather than the more meaningful life experiences of the individual, so we’d particularly welcome any stories or information you have from within the family.
This project is a labour of love for all of us involved, and we will do our best over the years to come so that we can do justice to the memory of those with a connection to places now in the Borough who gave their lives in the ‘Great War’.
Heritage & Local Studies Librarian
tel.: 0121 704 6934