16th February 1917

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.

Percy William Elliott was born on 26th July 1896 in Umberslade, where his father, Edward, was working as a coachman. He was the only son of parents Edward and Annie Matilda (née Meadows) who had married in Ansley, Warwickshire in July 1895. Percy was baptised in his mother’s home town of Ansley, Warwickshire in September 1896. By 1898 when his sister, Minnie, was born, the family had moved to Bentley Heath, Solihull.

By 1899, the family had moved to Ansley. 29-year-old Edward died in at the Cottage Hospital, Nuneaton in 1899, leaving his widow, Annie, with two young children. By 1901, she was still in Ansley, working as a shopkeeper/draper, and living with her three-year-old daughter, Minnie. Her four-year-old son, Percy, was in Leicestershire with her parents, Thomas and Sarah.

By 1911, the family was reunited in Ansley, with 14-year-old Percy back with his widowed mother and 13-year-old sister. He was working as a colliery bank labourer, whilst his mother was running a grocery shop. She died, aged 73, in 1941.

We don’t know when Percy enlisted in the Army, but his medal index card suggests he didn’t serve overseas before 1916. He was killed in action on 16th February 1917 and is buried at Fins New British Cemetery, Sorel-le-Grand, France. Having left Umberslade as an infant, he is not included on the war memorial in his birthplace, but he is listed on Ansley War Memorial.

Frederick William Mander and his twin brother, George Henry, were born in Wootton Wawen on 29th December 1887 and were the eldest sons of parents George William (a carpenter) and Jane (née Bearley) who had married at Wootton Wawen on 5th February 1883. The boys had two older sisters (Alice Mary (1883-1943 and Eleanor Sarah (born 1885)  and two younger sisters (Edith Jane (1892-1893) and Martha Louise (1895-1929), as well as a younger brother, Reginald (1900-1962).

By 1900, the family had moved to Hockley Heath, moving to Wilsons Row, Knowle by 1911. Frederick, a labourer, married Jenny Gertrude Cross in autumn 1911, and they had three children: Harold George (1912-1996); Alice Gertrude (born 1913, married Arthur Spencer in 1947) and Norman F. (1916-2010).

Frederick’s service record hasn’t survived but his medal index card suggests he didn’t see overseas service before 1916. He was originally posted missing and declared believed killed five months later:

Coventry Evening Telegraph 25th July 1917
Previously missing now reported died as prisoner of war in German hands: Mander, 5553, F. W. (Knowle), Royal Warwickshire Regiment.

There is a discrepancy in the service number quoted in the newspaper article and that used in official records (241770) owing to the renumbering of Territorial Forces in March 1917. Although Frederick was killed before this date, the fact that he was posted as missing, meant that he was included in the renumbering.

His twin brother, George, became a builder’s labourer and, in 1923, he married Elsie Annie Smitten (née Poulton) the widowed sister-in-law of Frank Smitten, who died at the battle of Jutland. Elsie had married Frank’s brother, William in 1913, but William died in 1921.

Frederick is buried at St Souplet British Cemetery, France and is also commemorated locally in the Soldiers’ Chapel at Knowle.

If you have any further information about either of these men, please let us know.

Heritage & Local Studies Librarian
tel.: 0121 704 6977
email: heritage@solihull.gov.uk

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