The war memorials at Catherine-de-Barnes and Solihull both include the name of Lance Corporal James Uriah Hill of the Coldstream Guards, although his local connection with the area isn’t known. He was killed in action at Vermelles, on 9th October 1915.
He was born in Saltley to parents James Uriah and Mary Ann (née Wragg) who had married at Nechells in 1877. His birth was registered in 1892, although there is a slight discrepancy in age with other official records suggesting a date of birth of 1889/1890. The couple did have another son called James Uriah, born 8th September 1883 at Nechells but this child seems to have died aged one, and is buried in Witton Cemetery, Birmingham. It was common practice in the past for a child to have the same name as a dead sibling to ensure that a favourite name continued for another generation. Mary Ann herself died in 1900, aged 44, and James Uriah married Sarah Clay in 1905.
James Uriah Hill (junior) was a regular soldier and had joined the Army by 1911 when his age was recorded as 21. He’s recorded on the 1911 census in London as a Private with the Coldstream Guards. His family was still in Birmingham, although his father had remarried by this time and was living in Hockley, Birmingham.
James was still working as a soldier and living in London when he married on 12th April 1914. His bride, Kathleen Langton (née Barton), was recorded as a widow “of full age”, and the marriage took place at the church of St James the Less, Westminster. James Uriah (senior) was recorded on his son’s marriage certificate as a retired carter.
Less than four months after the wedding, war broke out and James embarked for France with his regiment on 12th August 1914. His link with Solihull or Catherine-de-Barnes isn’t known so if you have any information, please let us know. It looks as if James’s father died in Dorridge in 1928, but he seems to have been living in Yardley with his daughter and son-in-law at least 1922-5, so it doesn’t seem that the whole Hill family moved to Catherine-de-Barnes/Solihull.
Kathleen Hill gave birth to a son, James Uriah Hill, born in Eton, Buckinghamshire (home of his mother’s family) on 20th August 1915, less than two months before his father was killed in action. He also became a regular soldier, joining the Royal Artillery in 1934, and serving as a Gunner in the Second World War. He was a prisoner of war at Stalag IV-B north of Dresden, Germany but survived the war and died in 1989, aged 74.
If you have any information on James Uriah Hill and his connection with Catherine-de-Barnes/Solihull, please let us know.
Heritage & Local Studies Librarian
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