Although Tanworth-in-Arden is not in the Metropolitan Borough of Solihull, it was part of the Solihull Rural District 1894-1932 and, before that, was part of the Solihull Union Rural Sanitary Authority 1872-1894.
The first casualty from Tanworth, also claimed as Birmingham’s first casualty, is Moseley-born Captain Edmund William Beech, of the First North Midland Field Company, Royal Engineers. He was a Chartered Accountant who lived with his wife and three children at The White House, Tanworth-in-Arden.
As an officer in the 1st (North Midland) Field Company, Royal Engineers, Territorial Force, he was called up on the outbreak of war. On Tuesday 11th August 1914 he was in a field adjacent to Smethwick Drill Hall, collecting horses and vehicles for army service when one of the horses bolted. Captain Beech’s spur caught in a wagon, causing him to fall, and the wheels of the wagon to which the runaway horse was attached went over him. He was severely injured and he died the same day in Birmingham’s Central Hospital.
He is not listed on the Commonwealth War Graves website, although he is commemorated locally at Tanworth-in-Arden. He is buried in Birmingham, at Brandwood End Cemetery, King’s Heath, in the same grave in which his father, George Beech J.P. (1835-1916), was also later interred. His name is also included in Birmingham’s Roll of Honour as one of the 12,320 Birmingham citizens who lost their lives in the First World War.
The 1911 census (available free of charge via the Ancestry and Find My Past websites at Solihull Libraries) shows him as a 35-year-old Chartered Accountant, living at Peterbrook, Solihull Lodge, with his wife, Mabel, and five-year-old daughter, Florence, as well as three live-in servants. The census shows that the couple had been married for 11 years, and had three children. It seems likely that the other two children were away at boarding school. Edmund is listed as having been born in King’s Norton.
Ten years earlier, the family was in Edgbaston, with their seven-month-old son, George Edmund Basil Beech (1900-1977).
Captain Beech is commemorated on Moseley war memorial in St Mary’s Church, and The Moseley Society has carried out detailed research on the casualties.
Heritage & Local Studies Librarian