21st May 1917

Two local men lost their lives in France on 21st May 1917 – Private Charles Bishop, 11th Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment, and Private John Gardner, of the 14th Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment.

Charles Bishop was born in Honington, Warwickshire and was the fifth of the nine children (five sons, four daughters) born to parents John (a groom, later a gardener) and Ursula (née Hiatt/Hyatt) who had married in Honington in 1872.

The family moved from Honington to Wellesbourne Hastings between 1886 and 1890, where they remained until at least 1901.

Charles became a builder’s labourer and married Fanny Arculus in 1905. The couple set up home in the Stratford-upon-Avon district before moving to Packwood sometime between 1907 and 1909. They had five daughters – Rachel Elizabeth (1907-1909); Edith Ellen (1910-1986); Elsie May (1911-1987); Georgina Mary (1913-1961); and Ursula Anne (1916-1960).

We don’t know when Charles joined the Army but he seems he didn’t see overseas service before 1916. Information from Rev. Downing’s Papers indicates that he was shot in the leg on 23rd April 1917 and lay in No Man’s Land for three or four days before being found and taken back to the lines. Gangrene set in and his leg was amputated. He was taken back to England and died at Highfield Military Hospital, Knotty Ash. His body was taken back to Knowle where he was buried with full military honours. The Warwick and Warwickshire Advertiser of 23rd June 1917 reported that “a large number of wounded soldiers attended the funeral.”

Charles Bishop’s grave at Knowle

John Gardner was born on 26th May 1895 and baptised at Temple Balsall on 7th July the same year. He was the second of the four children of parents William (a farm labourer) and Mary Elizabeth. Tragically, the couple lost both of their sons in the war, as their eldest son, William, was killed in 1918.

In 1901 the family was living at Fen End, where they lived until at least 1911. John, and his brother, William, followed in their father’s footsteps and both became farm labourers.

We don’t know when John enlisted in the Army but it seems he didn’t see overseas service before 1916. He died on 21st May 1917 and is buried at Bois-Carré British Cemetery, Thelus. He is commemorated locally at Balsall Common and Temple Balsall.

If you have any further information on 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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