Two local men lost their lives on 12th March 1915. Private Herbert Rushton of Castle Bromwich died, aged 24, whilst serving with the 3rd Battalion, Worcestershire Regiment. On the same day, Acting Corporal Harold Pugh, 2nd Battalion, Royal Scots Fusiliers was killed in action.
Herbert Rushton was baptised at St Mary & St Margaret’s Church on 2nd June 1889, with his parents listed as Alfred (a labourer) and Martha. In 1891, two-year-old Herbert was living with his parents and four older brothers in Buckland End, Castle Bromwich.
Ten years’ later, 12-year-old Herbert was still living at the family home at Buckland End with his mother and three of his brothers. However, his father, Alfred, had died in 1896 at the age of 44. Herbert became a regular soldier, presumably sometime around 1907, when he would have been 18. In 1911, he was stationed with the 1st Battalion, Worcestershire Regiment, at Albany Barracks, Carisbrooke, Isle of Wight. Confusingly, there are two men called Herbert Rushton listed at the barracks on the census, although the other Herbert Rushton was a Lance Corporal from Great Bridge, Staffordshire. A transcript of the 1911 census entries is on the Worcestershire Regiment website.
It appears that our Herbert had served his time with the Colours and was in the Reserves when war broke out, as the local newspaper reported that he was working for the Midland Railway at Water Orton Station before rejoining his regiment in August 1914.We know that Herbert first entered a Theatre of War on 2nd November 1914, but his service record appears not to have survived so we don’t have any further information about his time in the Army.
He married Elsie Howes in 1913, and they had a daughter, Elsie I. Rushton, born in 1915. The Birmingham Daily Post, 5th April 1915, reported his death and mentioned Herbert’s family:
The death of Herbert Rushton, of Castle Bromwich, has been reported officially. Prior to rejoining his regiment, the Worcesters, Rushton was employed on the Midland Railway at Water Orton. He was married and had one child – a daughter, whom he was never privileged to see, as the child was born after his departure from home in August. Rushton is the second man from Castle Bromwich to lose his life at the front. Over 50 from the village and the immediate district are with the forces.
A year after Herbert’s death, Elsie married again, marrying Henry G. Stainer (also recorded in some records as Staines).
Herbert is commemorated on the Menin Gate, Ypres, Belgium, and at Castle Bromwich on the village memorial and the plaque in St Mary & St Margaret’s Church.
It’s known that Herbert’s brother, Rupert (a carter in Castle Bromwich in 1911), died in Birmingham General Hospital in 1923, aged 36.
Research by Terrie Knibb indicates that two of Herbert’s brothers also served in the war. Further information on the family is on the Castle Bromwich Youth and Community Partnership website.
Harold Pugh was born in Shirley on 2nd June 1885 and was the fifth of ten children (eight sons, two daughters) of parents Charles (1857-1894) and Priscilla (née Ward) who had married at Moseley Road Congregational Chapel, Balsall Heath in 1876. His brother, Harry, was also killed in the war.
Another brother, Walter William (1880-1901) was a Stoker aboard HMS Humber and drowned whilst bathing off Hung Hom docks, Hong Kong. His shipmates paid for a headstone on his grave in Hong Kong Cemetery, Happy Valley.
Charles and Priscilla initially set up home in Balsall Heath before moving to Shirley by 1881, where they were living in Haslucks Green Road with Priscilla’s widowed mother. Harold is known to have attended Shirley School. Sometime between 1889-1891 the family moved to Deritend.
By 1901, and still in Deritend, Harold was working as a clerk in an architect’s office. He was still listed as residing in Birmingham when he enlisted in the Army. He was a Methodist, worshipping at Ombersley Road church. The United Methodist, 22nd April 1915, noted his death in action, describing it as the “first such loss the church and circuit has sustained.”
He has no known grave and is commemorated on Le Touret Memorial, France. Having moved away from his birthplace, he is not commemorated on Shirley war memorial.
If you have any further information on either of these men, please let us know.
Heritage & Local Studies Librarian
tel.: 0121 704 6977