25th January 1916

On 25th January 1916, two local men died as a result of their war service:

  • Temporary Captain, John Harry Hartill, aged 52, General List
  • Private William Lovegrove, aged 23, 1st Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment

John Harry Hartill, apparently known as Harry, was a manufacturer of soda water who was born in Smethwick, Staffordshire in 1864 but had moved to Acocks Green by 1891, and to Arden Vale, St Bernard’s Road, Olton by 1901. In 1911, he was aged 47, and living in Ashleigh Road, Solihull with his wife, Florence Annie (née Proctor) and two of their three children – Harold Leslie (aged 20, a clerk) and Alice Louise (aged 18). Alice, known as Daisy, became a well-known “lady golfer” and died in 1937.

John Harry Hartill served in the First World War as a Draft-conducting Officer (DCO). These officers had the role of conducting reinforcements of troops to their units. Most of the DCOs were men in their 50s, either who had been regular soldiers in the past, or who had organisational experience that would be useful in the role. It seems that John Harry Hartill was appointed Temporary Captain and DCO in August 1915.

He died at his home, ‘Gaydon’, in Copt Heath, Solihull, and his funeral took place two days later on 27th January 1916 at Knowle Parish Church, where he is buried. He was a keen golfer, and is commemorated at Copt Heath Golf Club, and by the Avenue Bowling Club, as well in Knowle.

John’s eldest son, Harry Clifford Hartill, was a police constable who had served with the South African Constabulary (established in 1900  to keep the peace in the Transvaal, Orange River Colony (Orange Free State) and Swaziland). He enlisted on 24th August 1914 in Warwick, Queensland, Australia, joining the 9th Infantry as a private, although later appearing to be promoted Second Lieutenant. He survived the war and died in Birmingham in 1956, aged 69.

John’s youngest son, Harold Leslie Hartill, apparently known as Leslie, also served and survived the war, first entering a Theatre of War on 2nd June 1915, and serving as a Lieutenant variously with the Royal Fusiliers, Queen’s (Royal West Surrey) Regiment, 1/RA Rifles, Queen’s (Royal West Surrey) Regiment, and King’s African Rifles. His medal index cards gives the address for correspondence as Struan Lodge, Homer Road, Solihull.

William Ernest Lovegrove was registered at birth and baptised at St Alphege Church, Solihull on 13th August 1893 as Ernest William Lovegrove. However, it seems that he was known as William, or Bill, and the order of his Christian names became transposed in some records. He attended Catherine-de-Barnes School, where he was recorded as William, although he is recorded on the village war memorial as Ernest William.

His parents were John, a labourer, and Ellen, who lived at Ravenshaw Cottage at the time of their son’s baptism. On the 1901 census, John was recorded as a wagoner on a farm, born in Olton and living in Marston Green with his wife and their three sons – John (aged 10), William (aged 8), and Edward (aged 4), all of whom were born in Solihull.

Ten years’ later, the family had moved to Barston Road, Copt Heath, where John was still working as a wagoner, as was his eldest son. William and Edward were still at home, aged 17 and 14 respecively, and a fourth son had been added to the family, four-year-old Clarence. The census records that the couple had had five children in total, of whom one had already died.

William enlisted as a Private with the Royal Warwickshire Regiment and first entered a Theatre of War on 18th July 1915, just over six months before he died.

According to a descendant of the Walker/Millward families, Bill was due to marry Irene Mary Beatrice Walker (1891-1975) on his return from the Army. Obviously, this never happened and, eighteen months after Bill’s death, Irene – known as Dolly when she was young – married Arthur Millward (1889-1952) on 31st July 1917.

black and white photograph of woman in a long light-coloured skirt and top sitting on a chair, with a man in Army uniform standing next to her. The backdrop suggests the picture was taken in a photographer's studio.
Irene Walker and Arthur Millward, [?1917]

Information in the family is that she always loved Bill and it was only as a result of persistent attention and proposals from Arthur that she eventually gave in and agreed to marry him. Her sister, (Gertrude) Violet Walker (1893-1976) married Bill’s brother, John Joseph Henry Lovegrove (1891-1962) in 1918.

The Register of Soldiers’ Effects on the Ancestry website reports that William Lovegrove died of appendicitis at No. 32 Casualty Clearing Station, which according to this list was posted at St Venant. in the Pas-de-Calais, France from 11th November 1915 until 18th February 1917.

Bill is buried at the St Venant Communal Cemetery, and is also commemorated locally on war memorials at Catherine-de-Barnes, Knowle and Solihull.

If you have any further information on John Harry Hartill or William Lovegrove, please let us know.

Heritage & Local Studies Librarian

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

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