25-year-old regular soldier, Corporal Adam Edgar, died on 19th June 1915 serving with the 2nd Battalion, Worcestershire Regiment. On the same day, Private William Albert Birch was killed in action serving with the 4th Battalion, Worcestershire Regiment.
Adam Edgar was born in Hockley Heath in 1890. His family lived at Mows Hill Farm, Hockley Heath, with his father (also called Adam) working as a shepherd. At the time of the 1891 census, Adam (senior) and his wife, Sarah Ann, had five children aged between five months and five years old. By 1901, they had 11 children aged between seven months and 15. Adam (senior) is recorded on the census as being born in Dumfriesshire, Scotland, whilst his wife, Sarah Ann, was from Tipton, Staffordshire. All of the children were born in the parish of Tanworth-in-Arden.
Adam (junior) had joined the Worcestershire Regiment by he time of the 1911 census when, aged 20, he is listed as a Private with the 3rd Battalion, stationed at Western Heights, Dover, a huge fortification built in 1804 in response to the threat of Napoleonic invasion, and completed in the 1860s.
The battalion was stationed in Dover 1909-1911 before being transferred in 1912 to Tidworth, Wiltshire, where the troops remained until they embarked for France in August 1914. Adam Edgar’s medal index card (available free of charge on Ancestry from library computers) indicates he first entered a Theatre of War on 12th August 1914.
His death was reported in the Birmingham Mail 2nd August 1915:
Another local loss has also been recorded in connection with the Worcestershire Regiment, Mr and Mrs Adam Edgar, of the neighbouring parish of Hockley Heath, having received intelligence of the death of ther son, Corpol Adam Edgar, of the 2nd Battalion Worcestershire Regiment, who was killed in action in France. Mr and Mrs Edgar have four other sons in the army, and have received the King’s congratulations.
As far as we’re aware, the other four sons serving in the Army all survived the war. Adam Edgar is commemorated locally on memorials at Hockley Heath, Umberslade Baptist Church, and in St Thomas’s Church, Nuthurst Lane, Hockley Heath.
William Albert Birch was born in Acocks Green in 1886 and was the eldest of the ten children born to parents, Richard (a hay miller) and Elizabeth (née Trotman, sometimes recorded as Tropman) who had married in 1885. By 1888, the family had moved to Hall Green and, by 1890, were in Solihull Lodge. By the time of the 1901 census, the family had moved to Cock Lane, Shirley.
Albert, as he was known, initially followed his father’s profession and was working as a hay miller by the time he was 15 years old, although he subsequently became a regular soldier. As he was known by his middle name, his first names became transposed in military records so he was recorded as Albert William Birch. His service number of 10910 suggests that he joined the Worcestershire Regiment sometime between January 1907 and January 1908
Information from Albert’s nephew is that he joined the 4th Worcesters in 1907 and served in India at Bareilly and then at Mektilla in Burma. We haven’t been able to find Albert on the 1911 census although the 4th Battalion was stationed in Bareilly, India.
By 1911, the Birch family had moved to Sparkhill, Birmingham and, according to Albert’s nephew, they lived at 22 Dolphin Road from late 1910 until the deaths of Albert’s father, Richard, in 1952 and his mother, Elizabeth, in 1953. At the time of the 1939 Register, the couple were living at that address with their two younger sons Charlie (1902-1988) and Wilfred Leonard Shirley Birch (1907-1973) both of whom were following their father’s occupation of hay trusser.
In late 1914 it was decided to form the 29th division from the last remaining regular troops from all over the Empire and the Worcesters were transported to Britain in early 1915. They were billeted at Leamington Spa before the government decided to send them to Gallipoli. They landed at Alexandria in Egypt and then were shipped to Mudros and Lemnos in the Aegean sea to prepare for arrival in Gallipoli on April 25th 1915. Albert’s battalion was decimated over the next two months and Albert was killed while counterattacking a Turkish trench in the darkness at 2am at bayonet point. Most of the battalion had already been killed by that time and, by the next morning, there were fewer than 90 men out of the original 800+ left.
Albert has no known grave. He is commemorated on the Helles Memorial but, having moved away from Shirley by 1911, he is not listed on Shirley war memorial.
His brother, Jim, was also killed in action on 16th April 1918. Two other brothers, John (known as Jack) and George, were both wounded.
If you have any further information, please let us know.
Heritage & Local Studies Librarian
tel.: 0121 704 6977