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.
Between 1901-1911, the family moved from Handsworth to The Briars, St Bernard’s Road, Olton. By the time Herbert enlisted in the Army on 27th January 1916, he was living at Falcon Hill, St Bernard’s Road. He originally joined the Royal Fusiliers but was transferred to the 12th Middlesex on 31st August 1916, joining his unit the following day.
His brother, Ernest (born 1882) also served in the Army, joining the Army Service Corps Mechanical Section, after being called up on 12th March 1917.
Eldest brother Frank (1878-1957) appears not to have served in the Army, but he had a career as a eminent Professor of Physics, after education at King Edward’s School, Mason University College, Birmingham, and St John’s College, Cambridge. He was a lecturer at the Cavendish Laboratory, Cambridge 1905-1914, and Professor of Physics at the University of London 1914-1946. He was Vice Chancellor of the University of London 1939–45.
Youngest brother, Ralph Albert (1885-1969) appears to have spent most of his life in India, joining the Indian (Imperial) Police after obtaining the 15th highest mark in the 1906 competitive civil service examination for the India Police Service. He married Miss Mabel St Aubyn Wemyss Young in Delhi in 1913 and they had two daughters. He served in the Indian Police until 1941 and was awarded the Companion of the Order of the Indian Empire (CIE) in 1928. He also served in the First World War and was commissioned Second Lieutenant with the Indian Army Reserve of Officers in June 1918, later becoming Captain. In 1941, he became Minister of Police before becoming, in 1943, Deputy Prime Minister and then, in 1947, Prime Minister to His Highness the Maharaja Holkar of Indore. On retirement, Ralph returned to England and died in Rock, Cornwall in 1969.
Just over five months after joining his regiment, Private Herbert Horton was killed in action on 17th February 1917. He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial. His name also appears on the war memorial in St Margaret’s Church, Olton.
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