31st May 1916

During the first day of the Battle of Jutland, 31st May 1916, three local men lost their lives in this great clash of 250 warships when the German Navy tried to break a naval blockade in the North Sea. The two days of the battle saw the loss of 25 ships and 8,500 men, three-quarters of whom were British. Despite the huge losses, the blockade held.

Lieutenant-Commander Leonard Hubert Lindner and Ordinary Telegraphist Elias William Wright were killed when their ship, H.M.S. Indefatigable, was sunk after being hit by shells from the German battlecruiser, Von Der Tann, which ripped a hole in Indefatigable’s hull, causing the ship’s magazine to explode and blow the ship in half. Only two of the 1,019 crew survived. According to one of the survivors, the ship’s Captain, C. F. Sowerby, survived the sinking but died of his wounds before he could be rescued.

On the same day Able Seaman Francis Smitten was killed in the same battle, when his ship, H.M.S. Black Prince, was sunk with all 37 officers and 820 men lost.

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26th May 1916

Private Arthur Eden was one of the nine surviving children of John and Maria Eden who lived in New Street, Castle Bromwich. Six of his seven brothers also served in the war, whilst the remaining brother was previously a regular soldier and wasn’t fit enough to re-enlist.  Two of the brothers died in the war, with Arthur being the first to be killed, on 26th May 1916, whilst serving as a Private with the 2nd Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment. His younger brother, Frank, was killed two months later.

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5th May 1916

On 5th May 1916, Second Lieutenant Gerald Alexander Dutton was accidentally killed in a training accident on Jersey, and was buried with full military honours in St Peter’s Churchyard on the island. He was serving with the 4th Battalion South Staffordshire Regiment, which moved from Lichfield to Jersey as soon as war broke out in August 1914. The battalion trained men for the Front and remained in Jersey until transferring to Marske, near Redcar in September 1916.

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3rd May 1916

Private Christopher James, recorded as aged 36, died on 3rd May 1916, serving with the 11th Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment. There is a slight discrepancy with his age, as he would actually have been 39 when he died. He was born in 1876 in Pencoyd, Ross, Herefordshire to parents James (a farm labourer) and Harriet. Soldiers Died in the Great War also has an error in the birthplace – listing his place of birth as St Leonard’s, Hertfordshire.

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1st May 1916

Private Horace Yorke, a former resident of Marston Green Cottage Homes, died on 1st May 1916, serving with the 13th Battalion, Middlesex Regiment. He was born in London and was living at the Cottage Homes in 1911, when he was aged 16. We haven’t been able to discover how he came to move from London, or why he ended up in the Cottage Homes (these were built to house children who would otherwise have gone into the workhouse).

It looks as if he originally joined the Royal Navy in December 1914 for the “period of hostilities”. However, he was discharged to sick quarters in April 1915 suffering from “Diptheria Neura[s]thenia” and invalided out of the Navy.

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