29th September 1914

Corporal Walter William Timms, 1st Battalion, Loyal North Lancashire Regiment was killed in action on 29th September 1914. He is commemorated locally on the lychgate memorial at Temple Balsall and on the war memorial plaque in St Peter’s Church, Balsall Common.

His baptism at Berkswell is recorded in parish registers held at Warwickshire County Record Office, and on microfilm at Solihull Central Library, which are now also available on the Ancestry website (free of charge from computers in any Solihull Library). He was baptised on 27th July 1891, to parents Walter Tom (a labourer) and Helen Matilda. Their abode was listed as Balsall.

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26th September 1914

Corporal Claude Percival Wilks (listed as Wilkes in some records), 2nd Battalion, King’s Royal Rifle Corps, was killed in action at the Battle of Aisne on 26th September 1914, aged 22. He has no known grave and is commemorated on Le Ferté-sous-Jouarre Memorial. He is also commemorated locally on war memorials at Catherine-de-Barnes, Elmdon, and Solihull.

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21st September 1914

Private George Edward Paston, of 1st Battalion, King’s (Liverpool) Regiment, died of wounds on 21st September 1914, aged 32. He was the first of three brothers to die in the war.

George was born in Berkswell in 1883, and baptised there on 29th July 1883, with parents listed as George (a labourer) and Ann. By the age of 7, he had moved with his parents and siblings to Burton Hastings, on the Warwickshire/Leicestershire border. His younger siblings were born in Stoneleigh, Balsall, and Berskwell, indicating how the family moved around. It looks as if the move to Burton Hastings took place in 1890/1. The family’s move from Berkswell is presumably why George Edward Paston’s name isn’t included on Berkswell war memorial.

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14th September 1914

It appears that the first of the World War I casualties in the field from places now within the Borough of Solihull died on 14th September 1914. This was during the First Battle of the Aisne, which marked the change from mobile warfare to trench warfare.

The locally-commemorated men who died were:

  • Rifleman Robert William Baker, born in Olton
  • Rifleman Eric Gordon Birch, born and lived in Castle Bromwich
  • Private Richard William Choate, commemorated at Olton
  • Captain Lord Guernsey, commemorated at Bickenhill and Forest Hall, Meriden

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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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