On 7th November 1915, 24-year-old Private John Henry Woolley from Castle Bromwich was killed in action in France, serving with the 11th Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment. He was born in 1891, the eighth of the eleven known children of parents, George James Woolley, farm labourer, and his wife, Kate (formerly Batchelor), who had married at St Peter & St Paul’s, Aston in 1878.
Church records of St Mary & St Margaret’s Church, Castle Bromwich (available free of charge from library computers via our Ancestry subscription) show the baptism of John Henry Woolley on 9th January 1892, as well as the baptisms of most of his siblings.
By 1901, the family was living at The Green, Castle Bromwich, with 42-year-old George James Woolley recorded as a labourer on a corporation farm. Ten years’ later, the family was still in Castle Bromwich, this time listed as living in School Lane. 19-year-old John Henry was recorded as a carter at Birmingham Sewage Works [presumably the works at Minworth]. It may not be a coincidence that also living with family in 1911 as a boarder was 41-year-old Albert Woolley, foreman at Birmingham Sewage Works.
It looks as if the family moved to Water Orton sometime between 1911 and the early 1920s. Soldiers Died in the Great War lists John Henry Woolley as being resident in Water Orton, and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s debt of honour register lists his parents as being of Water Orton.
We don’t know when John Henry Woolley joined the Army but it seems that he was first posted overseas on 1st August 1915, just over three months before he was killed in action.
He is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial, and also on Castle Bromwich village war memorial, as well as on a roll of honour plaque inside St Mary & St Margaret’s Church, Castle Bromwich. He’s not listed on the roll of honour for Water Orton.
If you have any further information about the Woolley family of Castle Bromwich, please let us know.
Heritage & Local Studies Librarian
tel.: 0121 704 6977