20th September 1914

Private Albert Newell, serving with the 1st Battalion, West Yorkshire Regiment (Prince of Wales’s Own), died on 20th September 1914. He is commemorated on war memorials at Bickenhill and Marston Green.

Also killed in action was Private George Johnson, 2nd Battalion, Durham Light Infantry. He is commemorated at Tanworth-in-Arden.

Soldiers Died in the Great War (available on the Ancestry website, free of charge from library computers) gives Albert Newell’s place of birth as Ainsley [sic], Leeds and notes that he enlisted in York. His regimental number was 8208. Unfortunately, it seems that his service record was one of those destroyed by bombing in the Second World War.

His medal index card gives the Qualifying Date (the date he entered a Theatre of War) as 7th September 1914, less than two weeks before he was killed in action. The card notes the award of three medals: the 1914 Star and clasp (for service under fire in France or Belgium between 4th August and midnight on 22nd/23rd November 1914 (the end of the First Battle of Ypres)); the British War Medal (for service in a Theatre of War 1914-1918); and the Victory Medal (issued to all those who received a 1914/15 Star, and to most who received a British War Medal).

He was born in 1890 and is listed on the 1891 and 1901 censuses with his family in Leeds.

Albert Newell became a regular soldier and joined the Militia on 14th August 1906 in Leeds. He was aged 17 years and 6 months and he gave his parents, Richard and Mary, living in Hunslet, Leeds, as his next-of-kin. By the time of the 1911 census he was in India with the 1st Battalion West Yorkshire Regiment.

How he came to be in Marston Green/Bickenhill is not known, so please tell us if you have any further information about him or a photograph of him.

Private George Albert Johnson, 2nd Battalion, Durham Light Infantry, was killed in action on 20th September 1914, which was the first day of the Battle of the Aisne. He was originally posted as missing, and he was reported in the Stratford Herald on 26th February 1915  as having “died on the field of honour.”

He was born in Redditch in 1884 and was the youngest of three children born to parents William (a needle manufacturer) and Grace Emily (née Ramsay).  He had three half-siblings from his father’s first marriage and one half-sister from his mother’s second marriage.

His father had died by 1888 when his mother married James Harman in Feckenham. The family continued to live in Feckenham, although it seems that the marriage broke down and James and Emily were living apart by 1901.

George was a member of the militia, serving in the 6th Battalion, Worcestershire Regiment from 1903. H was transferred to the Reserves in 1910 and his service record notes that he intended to live in Small Heath and seek employment in a metal works. By 1911 George was living in South Yardley with widowed mother, his half-sister, Lavinia, and her husband. George was working as a house painter.

He was mobilised at Newcastle on 5th August 1914 and was killed in action. He has no known grave and is commemorated on La Ferte-sous-Jouarre Memorial. He is also commemorated locally at Tanworth-in-Arden, and the connection appears to be that his brother, Ernest, lived in Poolhead Lane, Earlswood, which was in Tanworth parish. Presumably, George had moved to live with his brother sometime after 1911. We’re most grateful to John Pearson for identifying George Johnson in official records and providing information about his Tanworth connection.

If you have any further information, please let us know.

Heritage & Local Studies Librarian

Tel.: 0121 704 6977
email: heritage@solihull.gov.uk



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