29th December 1915

The last of the known casualties from places now within the Solihull Borough to die in 1915 died on 29th December 1915.

Eric Arthur Walker, who enlisted as a Private with the Warwickshire Yeomanry before being commissioned on 26th February 1915 as Second Lieutenant 9th Battalion (attached 6th Battalion) King’s Shropshire Light Infantry. He first entered a Theatre of War on 16th October 1915, just over two months before he died on 29th December, aged 20.

Corporal Archibald Haye Neill, 1st Garrison Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment, died in Sudan and is buried in Khartoum Military Cemetery. His name was added to the Hampton-in-Arden War Memorial in 2015, 100 years after his death.

Born in Temple Road, Dorridge on 24th April 1895 to parents Thomas (a buckle manufacturer) and Theresa Sarah, Eric Arthur Walker was the youngest of four children and was baptised at Knowle parish church on 20th July 1895. The three older children were all born in Birmingham, where the family lived until at least 1889. They had moved to Temple Road, Dorridge by 1891, where they remained until at least 1901. By 1911 they had moved to Four Oaks, Sutton Coldfield, when 15-year-old Eric was the only child remaining at the family home. The Price a Parish Paid by Michael Harrison reports that Eric attended Bishop Vesey School, Sutton Coldfield.

Eric is commemorated locally on war memorials at Dorridge and Hockley Heath, as well as at Knowle & Dorridge Cricket Club. He is also mentioned on a family vault at Knowle Parish Church, and on the war memorial at All Saints Church, Four Oaks, as well as a stained glass window to his memory at Holy Trinity Church, Sutton Coldfield, where he had been a chorister.

Archibald Haye Neill was born in Edinburgh but married Ruth Hubbard from Hampton-in-Arden in 1897. In 1901, Ruth and Archibald were living with her parents, Benjamin and Sarah, in Fentham Road, Hampton. In 1911, Ruth was still with her parents, but her husband was obviously away on census night. She had three children by this time – Benjamin Charles (7), Raymond Donald (3) and Janet Sarah (8 months) – all of whom were born in the village.

After Archibald’s death, his widow married Henry Ernest Coop in 1917. She continued to live in the village until her death in 1964, and she is buried in Hampton-in-Arden churchyard.

Hampton-in-Arden parish news, November 2015, reports on the addition of Corporal Neill’s name to the village war memorial following a request from his family.

If you have any more information about these men or their families, please let us know.

Heritage & Local Studies Librarian

tel.: 0121 704 6977
email: heritage@solihull.gov.uk

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