40-year-old Private James Stephen Wrench, of Bentley Heath died of fever in Mesopotamia (modern-day Iraq) on 6th July 1916. He was born in Leamington Spa in 1875, where his father, James, worked as a cabinet maker. James Stephen Wrench had moved to Knowle by March 1900 when he married Louisa Gibbs at the parish church. By 1911, the couple were living in Bentley Heath. Their only child, May Louisa Wrench, was born in 1900 and lived in the local area until her death in 1973.
Apparently known by his middle name, Stephen, he was a plumber by trade. We don’t know when he enlisted as a Private in the 9th Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment, but he wasn’t entitled to a 1914 or 1914/15 Star, indicating he wasn’t on active service overseas before 1916.
He died on 6th July 1916 and is buried in Basra War Cemetery. He is also commemorated locally on war memorials at Knowle and Solihull, and his name was included on the War Shrine at St Alphege Church, which was unveiled at Easter 1917. His widow, Louisa, died in 1967, aged 90.
If you have any further information about James Stephen Wrench, please let us know.
Heritage & Local Studies Librarian
tel.: 0121 704 6977