Two former inmates of Marston Green Cottage Homes died on 7th May 1915 whilst serving with the 2nd Battalion, King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry.
- Sergeant William Barrett
- Private Harry Roath
We think the W. Barrett on the Marston Green Cottage Homes memorial is William Barrett who was an inmate of the Homes from 13th July 1897 to 30th October 1908, according to admission registers at Birmingham Archives, which also note that his father was in the workhouse. On the 1901 census, William is listed as an inmate of Marston Green Cottage Homes, with a 16-year-old inmate called Herbert also listed. Both boys were born in Birmingham. Was Herbert actually William’s brother? Please let us know if you have any information.
When William left the Homes, he went to work for Mr Abrahams of 31 Wrentham Street. After his death, his effects were sent to his sole legatee, Miss Emily Makin, who appears to have married an Ernest Vine in Hailsham in 1917. In the Soldiers’ Effects register (on the Ancestry website, available free of charge from library computers), William Barrett is listed as Private (Acting Sergeant).
We’re not absolutely sure that the William Barrett who was in the Marston Green Cottage Homes is the same Sergeant William Barrett who died of wounds on 7th May 1915 and is commemorated on the Menin Gate memorial, Belgium, but this is the only casualty of this name with a birthplace of Birmingham. If you know any information that confirms this is the right person, please let us know.
Also commemorated on the Menin Gate memorial is Private Harry Roath, who was born in Sparkhill in 1894, the son of George Frederick and Annie Roath. By the time he was five years old, he was living in Marston Green Cottage Homes. His brothers Albert (aged 10) and George (16) were also in the Homes, whilst the youngest brother, two-year-old Charles, was a patient in the infirmary at Birmingham Workhouse. Harry and Charles were still in the Homes in 1911. It looks as if Albert and George both served in the Army in the First World War, with Albert joining up in September 1914.
We don’t know when Harry joined the Army but his medal index card indicates that he first entered a Theatre of War on 4th December 1914. He was killed in action just over five months later.
If you have any further information about William Barrett or Harry Roath, please let us know.
Heritage & Local Studies Librarian
tel.: 0121 704 6934
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