19-year-old Frank Ferris died on 16th June 1915 whilst serving as a Private with the Wiltshire Regiment. Born in Hockley Heath, he was baptised at St Thomas’s Church, Nuthurst Lane, Hockley Heath, although the parish register entry is a little confusing.
In 1901 Frank appears on the census in Hockley Heath, aged 5, with parents James (a hay trusser, born in Gloucestershire) and Elizabeth (born in Tanworth-in-Arden) and his siblings John (13, hay trusser, born Packwood), George (11), Charles (8), and Ellen (3). The family was living with Elizabeth’s widowed father, John Wood, a retired shoe maker, aged 83.
Ten years’ later, Frank had left home and was listed as being a servant (a page) in the household of solicitor Wollaston John Burman (1856-1930) at Oak Lodge, Hockley Heath. Frank’s mother, Elizabeth, had died in 1907, aged 51, but his father and his two youngest siblings (Charles Henry and Ellen Elizabeth) were living in Marshall Lake Road, Shirley.
Frank’s service record hasn’t survived but it’s known that he enlisted in Birmingham and was with the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry before being transferred to the Wiltshire Regiment. Such transfers between regiments were not unusual, and often happened as a result of significant casualties. Frank Ferris first entered a Theatre of War on 5th May 1915, only about six weeks before his death.
He is commemorated on local memorials at Shirley and at at Umberslade Baptist Church. If you have any further information about the Ferris family, please let us know.
Heritage & Local Studies Librarian
tel.: 0121 704 6934