Arthur Roberts of Shirley died on 16th July 1915 whilst serving as a Lance Sergeant with the 3rd Battalion, Worcestershire Regiment, apparently having been accidentally killed. He was born in Shirley, the fourth son of Buckinghamshire-born blacksmith, William Roberts and his wife, Elizabeth, who was born in Winterbourne, Nottinghamshire. The family appears to have moved from Yardley Wood to Solihull Lodge sometime between 1883 and 1888.
It’s known that Arthur joined the militia on 5th December 1904, aged 17 years 8 months, serving with the 6th Battalion Worcestershire Regiment. He joined the regular Army on 10th June 1905 at Worcester, giving his occupation as a porter, and his age as 18 years, two months. He had a fresh complexion, dark brown hair and blue eyes and was 5ft 4ins tall by the end of 1905, half an inch taller than when he enlisted. He had also put on weight during the first six months of his service, weighing 132 pounds (9 st 6lbs) compared to 119 (8st 7lbs) on enlistment. An identifying feature was that he had a large, circular scar on his right hip.
His service record (available on Find My Past, free of charge from library computers) shows him at Aldershot 1905-7, HMS Braemar Castle 27/11/1907 to 19/12/07, South Africa 19/12/1907 to 6/9/1908, Avondale Castle 7/9/1908 to 1/10/1908, Dover 2/10/1908 to 7/10/1910, Worcester 7/10/1910 to 13/2/1911, Warwick 14/2/1911 to 28/2/1911, Worcester 28/2/1911 to 31/7/1911.
He was promoted from Private to Corporal on 11th October 1909, and to Lance Sergeant on 5th April 1913. With his service due to expire on 9th June 1914, he expressed his wish in April 1914, having completed 8 years and 10 months service, to extend his service to complete 12 years. He arrived in France on 18th March 1915, where he served for almost four months before his death.
The final entry in his service record on 17th July 1915 records a notification received from his commanding officer stating “killed (accidentally)”. The service record includes correspondence from the Ministry of Pensions in 1918, asking for a copy of the Proceedings of the Court of Enquiry into his death. However, the response was that no evidence of such an Enquiry could be found, leading to a presumption that none was held. Also included in the service record is a sheet listing those soldiers due to report to a Court Martial in 1917, suggesting that there was some link with the Court Martial and the death of Lance Sergeant Roberts.
The service records notes that he had completed 10 years and 37 days service with the Colours prior to his death.
The Roberts family continued to live at Solihull Lodge, with Arthur’s parents and some of his siblings still there in 1911. His next-of-kin were listed as his father, William, and his older brothers William and James. However, his youngest sibling, Ellen, apparently known as Nellie, was recorded as “Sole legatee” in the list of Soldiers’ Effects (available on the Ancestry website, free of charge from library computers), and was sent £21 18s 3d on 20th November 1915, followed by £6 on 31st July 1919.
If you have any more information about the Roberts family of Solihull Lodge, please let us know.
Heritage & Local Studies Librarian
tel.: 0121 704 6977