31st October 1914

Four local men from three different regiments died on 31st October 1914:

  • Private Alfred Allcock, 2nd Dragoon Guards (Queen’s Bays), of Shirley
  • Private Charles William Assinder (1889-1914), Royal Warwickshire Regiment, commemorated at Olton
  • Private Cyril Frederick Collett (1894-1914), Worcestershire Regiment, commemorated at Solihull
  • Drummer Harry William George (1890-1914), Worcestershire Regiment, commemorated at Marston Green Cottage Homes

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30th October 1914

Private Albert James Watton was killed in action on 30th October 1914, serving with the 3rd Battalion, Worcestershire Regiment. We think this is the same person as A. W. Watton listed on the Castle Bromwich war memorial. Confusingly, he is also recorded in records as James Albert Watton, which was the name under which his birth was registered, and under which he is recorded on census records 1891-1911, and in the railway employment register. The transposition of his first names suggests that he was known by his middle name of Albert.

The Birmingham Daily Mail, 5th December 1914 includes the following announcement:

Information has been received at Castle Bromwich of the death of Albert Watton, a reservist of the 3rd Worcestershire Regiment, who was killed in action near Vailly. At the time he was called up Watton was within a week of completing his period of serice on reserve. He was a shunter at Water Orton, thirty years of age, and married, without family.

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28th October 1914

Stoker 1st class, William Heathcote Gee, from Shirley, was on board the destroyer H.M.S. Falcon on 28th October 1914 when it was hit by a German shell, which killed one officer and eight men, including William Gee. Another officer and 15 men were wounded. The Dover Express, 30th October 1914, reported that the bodies of those killed were taken to the mortuary at the Prince of Wales Pier, Dover. The newspaper noted that the ship had been based in the town for several years and the crew were well known in the town.

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26th October 1914

Lieutenant Frederic Roger John Tomlinson, 1st Battalion, South Staffordshire Regiment, was killed by a shell on 26th October 1914 whilst being taken to the base hospital near Ypres. He had fought through the night of 25th October and had captured six German snipers when he was wounded in the arm. He was 23 years old.

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25th October 1914

Two men who died on Sunday 25th October 1914 are commemorated locally. Private Alfred Hector Rowland Gwinnett is believed to have been killed by a sniper whilst serving with the 1st Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment. He is commemorated locally at Solihull and Knowle.

Captain Sir Francis Ernest Waller Bt. died on the same day, serving with the Royal Fusiliers (6th Battalion, but attached to the 4th Battalion). The Evening Despatch 25 November 1914 reported that Sir Francis had been ordered to take some lost trenches and guns, which he did successfully. However, when he was rising to urge his men to the final charge, he was severely wounded and died a few hours later. He is commemorated locally at Forest Hall, Meriden (home to the Woodmen of Arden).

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23rd October 1914

On 23rd October 1914, Edward and Annie Barker of Bradnock’s Marsh, Berkswell suffered a double tragedy when two of their three sons, George Edward Barker and Henry Barker (known as Harry), were both killed on the same day. Harry was the couple’s eldest child, born in Australia c. 1884. Their fourth and youngest child, a daughter, Mary, born about 1894, was the only one of their children to be born in England.

The couple’s three sons were all born in New South Wales, Australia. Harry (born c. 1884) and George Edward (born c. 1893) both became Sergeants with the 1st Battalion, King’s Shropshire Light Infantry (KSLI). The medal index cards for the brothers indicate that they both entered a Theatre of War on the same day, 10th September 1914. It’s known that there was a third brother, Arthur, born in Australia c. 1891 but, as yet, we’ve been unable to discover if he also enlisted.  If you know any more details, please let us know.

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21st October 1914

Private George Frederick Brown was killed in action with the 2nd Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment on 21st October 1914. Confusingly, the Soldiers Died in the Great War volume lists his death as being on 11th May 1915.

Luckily, Rev. Thomas William Downing, the Vicar of Knowle from 1901 until his death in 1932, kept a detailed register of men from the parish who served during the war. Canon Downing’s list – Knowle Men – is now at Warwickshire County Record Office (ref.: DRB56/268/1) and it featured on their Friends’ Facebook page as Document of the Month in June 2014. The list clearly shows that George Frederick Brown, apparently known as Fred, was posted missing on 21st October 1914. It wasn’t until 1916 that he was officially declared killed in action – this was reported in the parish magazine of June 1916.

It seems that Private Brown was a regular soldier but only served on the front line for exactly one week before being killed, as his medal index card gives his Qualifying Date (the date on which he entered a Theatre of War) as 14th October 1914.

Unfortunately, it looks as if Private Brown’s service record was one of those destroyed by bombing in the Second World War, so we don’t have much information about his service in the army. If you have any further details, please let us know.

Heritage & Local Studies Librarian

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


19th October 1914

Lieutenant John Edward Ratcliff, apparently known as Jack, was killed in action near Becelaere, Belgium on 19th October 1914, aged 23. He was serving with 2nd Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment, having previously served with the militia. Soldiers Died in the Great War records his death as being on 20th October 1914, but the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, De Ruvigny’s Roll of Honour and the probate indexes list him as being killed in action on 19th October.

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13th October 1914

Former bricklayer’s labourer, Henry Simmons (known as Harry), died on 13th October 1914, serving as a Private with 1st Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment.

On the same day, former painter, Private William Shenstone of Bordesley, Birmingham, also died whilst serving with the Worcestershire Regiment. Information from Packwood Haugh School is that this could be the same W. Shenstone who is listed on the school’s roll of honour, although there is some doubt about this.

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