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.
From the ages and birthplaces of the children, it looks as if the family lived in New South Wales, Australia from at least 1884 until about 1893, returning to Warwickshire by July 1893, when it looks as if their son, George Edward, was baptised at Allesley (although his baptism is recorded as Edward George).
In 1901, the parents and their four children were all living in Bradnock’s Marsh, with 17-year-old Harry working as carpenter, whilst the three younger children were all still at school (it has been suggested they attended Bablake School, Coventry). The father, Edward, was recorded as born in Birmingham and living on own means.
By 1911, parents Edward and Annie were living at Ivycroft, Hampton-in-Arden, with their 17-year-old daughter, Mary, but all of their sons had left home. It’s proving difficult to trace the boys on the 1911 census – it’s possible that at least some of them were already serving as regular soldiers. Soldiers Died in the Great War indicates that Harry had previously served with the Royal Engineers before he enlisted in the Shropshire Light Infantry. The fact that the brothers were both sergeants when they were killed at such an early stage in the war also suggests that they had previous experience in the armed forces.
George and Harry Barker are both commemorated on Berkswell war memorial as well as on the Ploegsteert Memorial in Belgium.
If you have any further information on the family, or know why they were living in Australia, please let us know.
Heritage & Local Studies Librarian
tel.: 0121 704 6934