On 9th September 1916, Lieutenant Philip Leo Beard, aged 33, died of wounds whilst serving with the 15th Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment. On the same day, Private Louis Callow was killed in action serving with the 11th Battalion Hampshire Regiment. Philip Beard, known by his middle name of Leo, was a Birmingham-based barrister but was a member of Copt Heath Golf Club. Louis Callow was born in Meriden.
Philip Leo Beard was born in Birmingham in 1882 and was the youngest of the ten children (nine sons, one daughter) born to parents John (a show card writer, then a publican, and later hotel owner) and Martha (née Smith). By 1901, Leo was a solicitor’s clerk and he was called to the Bar in 1909, practising in Birmingham until 1914.
On the outbreak of war, he enlisted in the Birmingham Pals as a private but was soon commissioned (4th September 1914). He married Winifred Ada Sanders in Barnstaple on 7th April 1915, and their only child, Richard Lithgow Beard was born in 1916. For some time, Lieutenant Beard was the military representative on the Tribunal for Warwickshire and Birmingham. He arrived in France less than a month before his death.
His widow remarried in 1926 and was living in Singapore with her husband George T. Morrell when her son, Richard Beard, died in Barnstaple in 1928, aged 12.
Philip Leo Beard is buried in Abbeville Communal Cemetery and is commemorated locally on Copt Heath Golf Club’s roll of honour. He is also commemorated on Grays Inn war memorial.
John Louis Callow was born in Meriden to parents John (a groom, gardener and sexton for 30 years at St Laurence’s Church) and Sarah Ann. He was one of a total of ten children born to the couple between 1880 and 1904, although two of his siblings had died by 1911. The eight siblings who survived infancy comprised seven sons and one daughter. The daughter became the village post lady and was known as “Aunt Laura” Callow in Meriden, working until the age of 70 (information from The Fallen of Meriden, Great & Little Packington during the Great War 1914-1918 by Doreen Agutter).
John Louis was the fifth of the surviving eight children and was baptised at Meriden on 5th March 1893. By 1911, 17-year-old Louis, as he was known and under which name he enlisted, was working for Warwickshire County Council as a labourer on the roads.
It’s known that Louis enlisted in the Army in Coventry in September 1914. He initially joined the Royal Warwickshire Regiment but had been transferred to the Hampshire Regiment by the time of his death. It appears that all five of his adult brothers also served, with Alec Henry, Reginald and William being recorded in St Laurence’s Church, Meriden amongst those who served in the war and returned safely.
- eldest brother Herbert (1880-1957) appears to have joined the 16th Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment (3rd Birmingham Pals) and later served with the Labour Corps;
- William Charles (1884-1943), a cycle fitter, enlisted in the Royal Warwickshire Regiment in December 1915 and, after service in France October 1916-March 1917 was discharged as no longer fit for war service;
- Alec Henry (1891-1980) appears to have served with the Royal Field Artillery;
- Alfred, a labourer, born 1894, enlisted in the Worcestershire Regiment in November 1915 and was discharged in May 1919;
- Reginald (born 1897) is believed to have served in the Royal Warwickshire Regiment and Royal Irish Rifles.
The youngest brother, Leslie (1903-1935) was too young to serve in the war. He married Lilian Kate Tustin and their son, Louis Raymond (1928-1985) was presumably named in memory of his uncle who had been killed in the war. We hear from family members that Louis Raymond Callow’s son and great-grandson both have the middle name Louis, so the name carries on down the generations.
In 1939, the extended family was living at 5 Leys Lane, Meriden, comprising widowed mother Sarah Ann (1857-1947) with her unmarried children, Laura (1881-1970), a part-time postwoman, and Alec Henry (1891-1980) a sand blaster. Also in the household were daughter-in-law Lilian Callow (widow of Leslie) and grandson Louis Raymond Callow.
John Louis Callow died on 9th September 1916 but was initially reported as missing. Newspaper reports in November 1916 include appeals from his mother for anyone with any information about Pioneer L. Callow to contact her. He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial. He is also commemorated locally on the village war memorial at Meriden.
If you have any further details about these men, please let us know.
Heritage & Local Studies Librarian
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