Private Ernest Lockley, 1st Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment was killed in action on 12th October 1916. Born in Birmingham in 1892, he was the third of the five children (three sons, two daughters) of parents Thomas (a brass caster) and Sarah Ann.
The local connection is that it seems Ernest was an inmate of Marston Green Cottage Homes, probably sometime between 1901 and 1909. His two younger sisters – Alice May (born 1895) and Nellie (born 1899) were both listed as inmates there on the 1911 census. By this time, Ernest would have been 18 years old and, therefore, too old to be resident in a children’s home. It wasn’t until 1918 that the school leaving age was raised from 12 to 14 although, typically, Poor Law Institutions would apprentice out children from the age of 14.
Marston Green Cottage Homes was run by Birmingham Poor Law Union, and housed children who would otherwise have been admitted to Birmingham Workhouse (later Dudley Road Hospital). We haven’t been able to find out why Ernest and his siblings were admitted to the cottage homes – typical reasons would be the death or illness of the breadwinner.
Ernest must have volunteered for the Army soon after the outbreak of war. He first saw overseas service – in the Balkans – on 13th July 1915. He was killed in action on 12th October 1916 and has no known grave. He is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial, and also on Marston Green Cottage Homes memorial.
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Heritage & Local Studies Librarian
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