36-year-old Private Thomas Walter Haynes, 4th Battalion King’s (Liverpool) Regiment, and 22-year-old Corporal Horace Timmins, 15th Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment (1st Birmingham Pals) both died on 29th August 1916.
Both men were born in Birmingham, although Thomas Haynes was living in Knowle before joining the Army. Horace Timmins’ local connection is that he spent time living at Marston Green Cottage Homes where his mother, Emma, was a foster mother.
Thomas Walter Haynes was baptised at St Thomas’s Church, Birmingham on 30th May 1880. His parents were Thomas William (a sawyer) and Jane, who were living in Great Colmore Street. The 1881 census shows the couple living at Back 95 in the same road, with their eldest child, Alfred John William Barlow Haynes (aged two, recorded on the census as Arthur rather than Alfred), and 10-month-old Thomas. They went on to have three more children: Emma Lucy (born 1881); James Edward (born 1884); and Charles Henry (born 1888). James and Charles both served in the British Army during the war, with James being wounded and gassed, and Charles being killed in October 1916.
The family moved from Birmingham to Knowle between April 1881 and January 1882, and lived in Station Road until at least 1911. All the children grew up in the village, with Thomas singing in the choir at Knowle parish church. Emma had left home by 1901 to become a domestic servant to John Wakefield and his wife – living with them in Bentley Heath in 1901 and Edgbaston in 1911. Thomas became a labourer whilst James became a gardener. James is the only one of the five siblings known to have married – he married Mabel Dyer at Barston in 1908 and they had two children.
Thomas apparently emigrated to Canada sometime between 1911 and his enlistment in the Army. There is a T W Haynes, farm labourer, aged 3o, listed as a 3rd class passenger on the Cunard ship Albania, which sailed from Southampton on 2nd May 1911, so this may be the correct person. With the outbreak of war, Thomas returned to England in order to join the Army.
He died on 29th August 1916 and is buried at Bulls Road Cemetery, Flers, France. He is commemorated locally in the Soldiers’ Chapel in Knowle parish church, and there is also a plaque in his memory in the choir stalls in the church.
Horace Timmins was born in 1895 in Handsworth and was the eldest child and only son of James Benjamin, a jeweller, and Emma Timmins. James died in 1897, after which Emma and her two children (Horace and Ethel) are recorded living at the Cottage Homes, Marston Green, Coleshill, where Emma was a Foster Mother.
By 1911 Horace had moved to Harborne, Birmingham, and was working as a Junior Clerk in the Coal Trade. His mother and sister were still living in Coleshill in 1911. He joined the Birmingham Pals on the outbreak of war, giving his address as c/o Mrs Gibbs, Bickenhill Lane, Marston Green, and arrived in France on 21st November 1915. On 22nd May 1916, Horace Timmins took part in a raid on a German trench. He went missing in no man’s land during the raid, was shot at, and hit on the cheek by a shell that failed to explode. A sergeant in the same shell hole had half his head blown away. Trying to crawl back to the trench, he mistakenly headed for the German line, so lay in another shell hole with a soldier from 2am until 10pm, the two men having increased the size of the hole with jack knives. He crawled back to his trench the following evening.
His luck ran out on 29th August 1916, when he was killed by shell fire. Horace Timmins has no known grave and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial. He is also commemorated on war memorials at Bickenhill, Marston Green and Coleshill.
If you have any more information about either of the men, please let us know.
Heritage & Local Studies Librarian
tel.: 0121 704 6977