Two local men lost their lives on 2nd August 1915 whilst on active service – Private William Manton, 1st/4th Battalion, King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry, and Sergeant Lawrence Waters, 5th Battalion, Oxford & Bucks Light Infantry.
William Manton was born in Shirley in 1887 and was the seventh of 13 children born to parents Job (an agricultural labourer) and Tamar (nee Creighton) who had married in the bride’s home town of Wakefield in 1876.
William was the eldest surviving son as the three eldest children – Joseph Thomas (1877-1888), William (born and died 1878) and Charles Smith Manton (1879-1906) – all died young. William was presumably a favourite name within the family as “our” William was the second of Job and Tamar’s children to be given the name.
The couple initially set up home in the Lapworth/Hockley Heath area. Their eldest son, Joseph Thomas, was baptised at Lapworth on 22nd July 1877, with the parents’ abode listed as Nuthurst. Their address was recorded as Wharf Lane, Lapworth at the time of the baptisms of their son, Charles in 1879 and their daughter, Edith, in 1883. They moved to Union Lane, Shirley sometime between 1883-1891 before moving to Wakefield between 1892-1894. The family then seems to have remained in Wakefield.
By 1901, 14-year-old William was working as a grocer’s errand boy. By the time of his marriage to Elizabeth Spurr on 23rd November 1910 at St Andrew’s Church, Wakefield, he was working as a tram conductor. The couple set up home in Hunslet, Leeds, where their only child, Harold (1913-1989) was born on 25th October 1913. The 1911 census shows William’s place of birth as “Country, near Birmingham.”
William was killed in action on 2nd August 1915 and is buried at Talana Farm Cemetery, Belgium. Having moved away from his birthplace of Shirley, he is not commemorated on the local war memorial there. However, he is commemorated on the war memorial at St Andrew’s Church, Wakefield, and on the (damaged) war memorial of St Catherine’s Church, Wakefield.
After her husband’s death, his widow, Elizabeth, remarried at St Andrew’s Church, Wakefield, in 1920. It seems she had two children with her second husband, Arthur Anderson – Mabel (born 1921) and William (born 1930).
Old Silhillian Lawrence Waters was born in 1890 in Acocks Green. He left Solihull School in December 1907 and by 1911 was working as a motor works fitter and living in Acocks Green with his widowed mother and five of his siblings. His father, Alderman Walter Waters J.P., a prominent Freemason and a fish merchant, had died in January 1908 after serving as a Councillor on Birmingham City Council since 1890.
As Lawrence’s service record appears not to have survived, we don’t know when he enlisted in the Army. However, his younger brother, Bernard (born 1896), enlisted in the South Staffordshire Regiment on 4th September 1914 so it’s possible that Lawrence joined at the same time. Their older brother, Leslie, also joined the Armed Forces and was killed on the Somme in 1916. Bernard survived the war, having been discharged medically unfit in July 1915 after service in France.
Lawrence was killed on 2nd August 1915 during the 2nd Battle of Ypres, whilst serving as a Sergeant with the 5th Battalion Oxford and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry. He was 25 years old. He is commemorated locally on the war memorial at St Margaret’s Church, Olton, and on the Solihull School War Memorial.
If you have any further information about either of these men, please let us know.
Heritage & Local Studies Librarian
tel.: 0121 704 6977