14th July 1916

Private Victor George Houghton, Royal Warwickshire Regiment, was killed in action on 14th July 1916, serving with the 1st/7th Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment. He was born in Hockley Heath in 1897, and was the third of the four children (three sons, one daughter) of John (a shoemaker) and Ruth Elizabeth (née Waters) who had married in 1892.

John Houghton died in 1904, leaving his widow with four children aged between two and 11. The death of a breadwinner could often plunge a family into destitution, and it seems that life became very difficult for his widow, Ruth, who was admitted to Solihull workhouse where she gave birth to a fourth son, Reuben, in 1907. She and her four-year-old son were still there in 1911, whilst her older sons Victor and Edwin (known as Ted), aged 13 and 11, were boarding with a family in Hockley Heath.

In 1911, her 16-year-old daughter, Sarah Ann, was in service at the Manse, Umberslade, working for the Baptist Minister. Sarah emigrated to Canada in 1912 and married George Frederick Shepherd in Montreal in 1916. Their son, born in 1917, was named Sydney George Frederick Victor Shepherd, presumably in memory of his late uncle.

The eldest son, John Edgar (known as Jack), also emigrated to Canada in 1913/4 and died in Vancouver in 1975.

It’s not known when Victor enlisted in the Army, but he first entered a Theatre of War on 22nd March 1915. His mother, Ruth, had moved to Station Road, Knowle by the 1920s. Victor has no known grave and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial. He is commemorated locally at Knowle, Hockley Heath and Umberslade Baptist Church. He was also commemorated at a service at St Patrick’s, Salter Street, held on 3rd September 1916.

His brother Reuben enlisted as a regular soldier in the Royal Artillery in January 1927, having spent six months with the Territorials. He served in the Second World War with 61 Anti-tank regiment Royal Artillery and was awarded the Military Medal, as well as being mentioned in despatches. Reuben married Marjorie Harding in 1930, and the couple named their only son, Victor.

If you have any more information about the Houghton family from Hockley Heath, please let us know.

Heritage & Local Studies Librarian

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

9 thoughts on “14th July 1916

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  1. I was so pleased to read this article about my late uncle.I am Reubens daughter and never knew my Paternal grandmother.I lived in Hockey Heath all my life until I married then in Knowle.I am one of 4 children 1 boy and 3 girls.My brother was also called Victor,my second name is Ruth after my grandmother.Her father was a verger at Packwood church and he is buried in Packwood churchyard.

  2. Fascinating! Thank you so much. I am Roxanne Cernos. John (Jack) Houghtons Granddaughter. Develda (Del) Edwina Houghtons Daughter. Kaeli is my Daughter. I was very close to my Grandparents. My Grandfather and his first wife named their oldest son after Victor as well. Kaeli & I will speak and post some more information soon.

  3. I would love you to pass my e.mail address to my cousins in Canada.thank you so much for the information.looking forward to hearing from Roxanne.

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