Private George William Irons of 11th Battalion, The King’s (Liverpool) Regiment, died in France on 29th January 1917. He was the second of three brothers from Castle Bromwich to die in the war.
Corporal William Robert Smith, 4th Battalion Coldstream Guards died of testicular cancer in Birmingham on 26th January 1917, two days after his 21st birthday. He was the youngest of the nine children (four sons, five daughters) of parents Richard (an agricultural labourer) and Ann (née Ward). The couple had married in 1875 and then lived at Shelly Green before moving to Bentley Heath by 1891, where Richard’s parents, William and Maria, also lived. The family remained at Bentley Heath until at least 1911.
41-year-old Private John Jones from Shirley was killed in action on 25th January 1917, serving with the 9th Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment. Also killed on the same day was Private John Henry Watkins, an Old Silhillian, who was serving with the 9th Battalion, Worcestershire Regiment. Both men are buried in Amara War Cemetery, situated in modern-day Iraq.
Second Lieutenant Beresford Frank Parsons (Royal Flying Corps, was killed on 23rd January 1917 when an aeroplane in which he was a passenger, crashed in Charlton Park, Malmesbury, Wiltshire. He sustained a fracture of the base of the skull and was buried with full military honours at Yardley Cemetery.
Private Shirley Palmer Coton from Copt Heath was killed in action in Mesopotamia on 16th January 1917, serving with the 9th Battalion Worcestershire Regiment.
Baptised at St Alphege Church, Solihull on Christmas Eve, 1893, he was the only son of parents James (a labourer) and Julia (née Smith) who had married at the church in 1892. He also had a younger sister, Winifred Mary (1896-1927) who was baptised at Knowle as Victoria Winifred Mary on 12th April 1896.
Two local men died on 12th January 1917 whilst on active service – Private Philip Hugh Gwyther, who was born in Castle Bromwich, and Private William Thomas Price. Private Gwyther was serving with the 1st Battalion, North Staffordshire Regiment, whilst Private Price was with the 10th Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment.
Two local men lost their lives on 9th January 1917 whilst serving in the Armed Forces.
Commander The Hon. Richard Orlando Beaconsfield Bridgeman RN, DSO, the son of the 4th Earl of Bradford of Castle Bromwich Hall, drowned whilst on active service in East Africa (modern Tanzania) with the Royal Navy. Second Lieutenant Arthur Gordon Robinson died in France whilst serving with the 2nd Special Company, Royal Engineers.
35-year-old Private John Harvey from Castle Bromwich died of epilepsy on 6th January 1917 whilst serving with the Reserve Battalion, Coldstream Guards.
John was the fifth child and eldest son of the eight children (three sons, five daughters) of parents Walter (a labourer) and Hannah (née Wilkinson), who had married at St Peter & St Paul’s Church, Aston in 1872. All of the children were born in Castle Bromwich, which was also their mother’s place of birth.
20-year-old Private Charles Edwin Preece died of sickness on 4th January 1917, serving in France with the 1st/8th Battalion Worcestershire Regiment. He was born in Solihull on 28th February 1896, and was the third of the four children (two sons, two daughters) born to parents Thomas William (a jobbing gardener) and Mary Ann (née Chamberlain). The couple had married on 20th September 1890 at St Alphege Church.