Former Marston Green Cottage Homes residents, Samuel Richardson and Frederick Stevenson both died in France on Easter Monday, 9th April 1917, serving as Privates in the Armed Forces. Private Richardson was with the 78th Battalion Canadian Infantry, whilst Private Stevenson was serving with the 2/7th Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment. Both men are commemorated on the Marston Green Cottage Homes war memorial.
Samuel Richardson was born in Birmingham on 15th September 1891 and baptised at St Gabriel’s Church, Deritend. He was the eighth of the ten children (six sons, four daughters) born to parents John (a labourer) and Hannah (née Phillips, who was a French polisher). The couple married in 1876 in Aston.
Admission registers for Marston Green Cottage Homes (held at the Library of Birmingham) indicate that Samuel was admitted to the homes on 5th November 1902. His father seems to have died in 1904 and is apparently buried at Witton Cemetery, Birmingham.
Samuel remained in the homes until May 1907 when, aged 15, he went to Canada. When he enlisted in the Canadian Expeditionary Force in November 1915, he gave his mother Hannah as next of kin (she was living in Bagot Street, Birmingham) and he said his occupation was a metal worker. He was described as 5ft 7in tall, with a ruddy complexion, blue eyes and light brown hair.
Private Samuel Richardson is one of 3,598 Canadian soldiers who died during the Battle of Vimy Ridge 9th-12th April, which saw Canadian forces capture the ridge from the German Army. His is one of 11,000 Canadian soldiers whose names are inscribed on the Vimy Memorial, having died in France with no known grave.
Frederick Stevenson was born in Hockley, Birmingham in 1895, and was the fifth of seven children (six sons, one daughter) of parents, William and Sarah (née Cross), who had married at St Mark’s Church, Birmingham on 25th December 1886. They both died quite young – William died in 1903, aged 38, and Sarah in 1908, aged 42.
After their parents’ deaths, Frederick and his two younger siblings – Sarah Hannah Elizabeth (1898-1972) and Ernest Harry (1900-1944) – were all admitted to Marston Green Cottage Homes. Marston Green Cottage Homes were in operation from 1880 until 1933, and took in children who would otherwise have been admitted to the workhouse.
Frederick became a filer by trade, and volunteered for the Army on 10th August 1914, barely a week after war was declared. Unpublished research by the late Alan Tucker indicates that four of Frederick’s brothers joined him in answering Kitchener’s call for men to join the Army. Frederick served in France from July 1915 until he was wounded in November 1916. After a few weeks in England, he returned to the Front on 11th January 1917. He was killed in action less than three months after his return.
Alan Tucker reports that Frederick Stevenson and the other 20 soldiers who died with him actually died the previous evening, 8th April, when the 2/7th Royal Warwicks attacked at Fresnoy-le-Petit, having taken over the front line the previous day. The Germans put up heavy rifle and machine gun fire, and a report of the attack stated:
All ranks behaved with great gallantry and determination, holding on to positions under extremely adverse conditions and, by their tenacity and pluck, eventually forced the enemy to withdraw.
If you have any further information on either of these casualties, please let us know.
Heritage & Local Studies Librarian
tel.: 0121 704 6977