On 30th March 1915, 19-year-old Rifleman Leslie Wilson from Catherine-de-Barnes, died of wounds in France whilst serving with the 2nd Battalion, Rifle Brigade, which had been in France since 6th November 1914, although Leslie joined them on 26th January 1915, according to his medal index card.
On the same day as Private Wilson died in France, Stoker 1st Class, David Bradbury, returning from leave, was fatally injured falling from a train as it passed through Castle Bromwich.
Leslie Wilson’s parents, Arthur and Ada, married at St Andrew’s Church, Bordesley, Birmingham in 1891. They had four children, of whom Leslie was the third child, and the second son. The family moved from Speedwell Road, Hay Mills to Lugtrout Lane, Catherine-de-Barnes between 1909 and 1911. By the time of the 1911 census, the two eldest children had already died – Gilbert Allen Wilson died in 1908, aged 16, and Hilda Eva Bowdler Wilson, died at Birmingham General Hospital in 1897, aged 3. The youngest child, Jesse Bowdler Wilson, born in 1909, worked at Cadbury’s and then served with the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve in the Second World War, being awarded the Distinguished Flying Medal in 1941. He died in Limerick, Ireland in 1976, aged 67.
Leslie was born on 20th July 1895 and was baptised at St Mary’s Aston Brook on 7th August 1895. He is listed on the 1911 census, aged 15, as a carter on a farm. Railway employment records on the Ancestry website (available free of charge from library computers) show that two months after the census, he started work as a cleaner with the Great Western Railway at Birmingham [Snow Hill] Station, being paid 1s 10d per week. However, he worked there for only six months, leaving on 12th January 1912. Leslie’s service record appears not to have survived, so it’s not known when he enlisted in the Army, or what he did after leaving the GWR in 1912.
Leslie Wilson is commemorated on Solihull war memorial (recorded as serving with the King’s Royal Rifle Corps) and at Merville Communal Cemetery, France.
20-year-old David Bradbury was from Walsall, and was serving as a stoker with the Royal Navy. On 30th March 1915 he was returning to his ship, HMS Skirmisher, after four days’ leave. One of the newspaper reports of the inquest into his death indicate that he struck up an acquaintance with a soldier on the train and they been drinking whisky in the railway compartment. The communication cord was pulled and, although David Bradbury was persuaded by the guard to return to his seat instead of trying to alight, he fell onto the track when the train restarted. He is buried in Ryecroft Cemetery in Walsall.
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