Frank Baulcombe was born in Kenilworth on 18th February 1891, the fourth child and eldest son of the ten children born to parents Frederick (an insurance agent, previously a confectioner and baker) born in Eastbourne, Sussex and Selina (née Clarke), born at Moreton Bagot, Warwickshire. The couple had married at Claverdon on 5th January 1886. Frederick was a widower – he had married his first wife, Mary Page, on 31st January 1882 in Kenilworth and their only child, Marian Bertha Baulcombe, was born in Leamington at the end of the year. Mary died in 1884, aged 28.
Frank, a gardener at Umberslade before the war, was killed in action at Neuve Chappelle on 5th October 1915, whilst serving as a Private with the Oxford and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry. He was 24 years old.
Frank was one of four of the five sons of the couple to serve – his brother Frederick Clifford Baulcombe was killed in 1916, whilst two other brothers, Harry and Harold, both survived the war. Harry [officially recorded as Henry] received the Distinguished Conduct Medal and was also Mentioned in Despatches. As well as the four brothers serving, and article in the Stratford Herald 9th July 1915 notes three sisters nursing – Marion in Devon, Edith in Egypt and Louisa in Bournbrook.
Before joining the Army, Harold had also volunteered with the Red Cross as an orderly at the Auxiliary Hospital, The Hermitage, Solihull for six hours per week from March to September 1915. William, the youngest of the five sons of Frederick and Selina, was born in 1901 so was too young to serve during the war.
According to the report of Frank’s death in Solihull Parish Magazine, Frank and his siblings all attended Bentley Heath School, “which is justly proud of them”. The Rector expressed his deepest sympathy to the family.
All but the three youngest three of Frederick and Selina’s children were born in Kenilworth. The family seem to have moved to Bentley Heath between 1897 and 1901, and it looks as if they remained there until the late 1930s. Frederick died in Bentley Heath in 1938 and his wife died there the following year. It’s said that she never recovered from the loss of her two sons and right up until her death would listen out for trains arriving at Dorridge station, hoping that her boys would come home.
Frank is commemorated on local memorials at Dorridge, Hockley Heath, Knowle, Solihull and Umberslade Baptist Chapel.
His half-sister, Marian Bertha Baulcombe, emigrated to New Zealand and, tragically, lost her eldest son, Albert Baulcombe Wallis (known as Bert), in the Second World War. He was a Flying Officer with the Royal New Zealand Air Force as was serving as a wireless operator when his plane was brought down over Germany in 1943.
If you have any further information about the Baulcombe family, please let us know.
Heritage & Local Studies Librarian
tel.: 0121 704 6934