On 24th February 1917, Acting Corporal Walter George Riggs was killed whilst on duty in the trenches in Vimy Ridge with the 26th Battalion (New Brunswick Regiment), Canadian Infantry. His foot was blown off by the explosion of an enemy fishtail bomb. Comrades rendered first aid and he was taken to a dressing station and evacuated to No. 42 Casualty Clearing Station where he died. He is buried in Aubigny Communal Cemetery Extension, France.
According the the Register of Soldiers’ Effects, Driver Francis Hall, Royal Field Artillery, died on 23rd February 1917 at Frensham Hill Military Hospital, Farnham, Surrey. He is buried at St Swithin’s Church, Barston. He was 19 years old, and was the first of two brothers to be killed in the war.
Private Walter Edward Woodward was killed in action on 22nd February 1917, serving with the 11th Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment. Born in Knowle in 1878, he was baptised at Knowle parish church on 5th May 1878 and was the second of the six children of parents William Wyatt Woodward (a coachman) and Louisa (née Allsop), who had married in 1875. Walter had an older brother, William Thomas (1877-1934) and four younger siblings: Charles Frederick (born 1879); Edith Mary (1882-1952); Grace Louisa (1884-1947) and Ernest John (1885-1963).
Private Herbert Horton died on 17th February 1917 serving with the 12th Battalion Middlesex Regiment. Born in Handsworth in 1880, he was the third of the seven children (five sons, two daughters) of parents, Albert, a schoolmaster and Kate Louisa (née Carley) who had married in St Pancras, London in 1876. Herbert was educated at King Edward’s School, Aston, before joining the Midland Bank as a cashier at the Birmingham head office.
Two local men died on 16th February 1917: Private Percy William Elliott, 1st Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment and Private Frederick William Mander, 1st/6th Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment.
100 years ago two cousins in their 30s met for the first time in Solihull and fell in love.
At the Core Library, Solihull, we have photocopies of some letters written by an Australian First World War soldier – Private Frederick William Forder – from a convalescent hospital in England in 1916 and on board a ship home to Australia in 1919 (our ref.: D125).
The letters were sent to his wife, Edith Forder (née Hobbins) whom he had married at St Alphege Church, Solihull on 5th June 1918. It seems that after six months of married life in England, the couple were parted when Frederick returned to Australia in January 1919, and they never saw each other again.
Private Sidney Britt died of wounds on 13th February 1917, serving with the 4th Battalion, South Wales Borderers. He was the youngest of ten children from Elmdon, three of whom died in the war. Serving regular soldier, Albert Henry, was killed in 1914 and his brother, William Henry (who served in the militia 1900-1902) died in November 1917. Sidney was the second of the brothers to die in the war.
Two men with a local connection died on 11th February 1917. Temporary sub-Lieutenant Walter Holden Legge, Royal Naval Division, attached to Royal Flying Corps, died in Solihull Hospital, whilst Lance Corporal Hubert Woodfield MM, 7th Battalion Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry died in France.
Sergeant Thomas Richard Bradley, 159th Heavy Battery, Royal Garrison Artillery was killed in action on 9th February 1917. He is commemorated on the Solihull war memorial but, assuming that we have found the correct person in Army records, we don’t yet know of his connection with the Solihull area.
Lance Corporal Sydney Howard Falconbridge was killed in action on 6th February 1917 serving with the 143rd Company, Machine Gun Corps. He was born in Hampton-in-Arden in 1893 to parents, George (a police constable) and Ellen Ann (née Knight), who had married at Hatton in 1888. He was the third of the couple’s eight children (four sons, four daughters). Some records spell his name as Sidney.