Gunner Norman Vaughan of “D” Battery, 312th (West Riding) Brigade, Royal Field Artillery was killed in action on 26th May 1917. Born in Handsworth in 1880, he was the eighth of nine children (six boys, three girls) and the first of two sons of parents John and Maria (née Bevins) to be killed during the war. His brother, William Leonard (known as Leonard) died of wounds on 30th November 1917, serving as a Guardsman with the Grenadier Guards.
The family remained in Handsworth until at least 1893 when father, John, an edge tool manufacturer, died whilst staying with his recently-widowed daughter, Mabel, at her home in Ledbury. After their father’s death, their mother, Maria, remarried in 1900 and the children dispersed. The eldest son, John Clifford, died aged 26 in Sparkhill in January 1897. By 1901, Norman was a 20-year-old auctioneer, living in King’s Norton with three of his siblings – (William) Leonard, aged 23, a mechanic, and twins Frank (1876-1903), also a mechanic, and Edith Evelyn Mary (1876-1936). The remaining brother, Herbert Stanley (1874-1921), married Lilian Geary in Wythall in 1901 and their daughter, Edna Mary, was born in London in 1905. The family emigrated to the United States around 1913, and Herbert died of cancer in Pennsylvania in June 1921. His widow remarried and died in California in 1983, aged 104.
Norman’s eldest surviving brother, Thomas Edgar Vaughan (1872-1922), known as Edgar, married widow Sarah Elizabeth Sapcote (née Wilkinson) in 1900 and they set up home in Handsworth. He established a firm, Edgar Vaughan & Co., which manufactured specialist oils and lubricants on a site in Birmingham’s Gun Quarter until the 1990s.
By the time Norman enlisted in the Army, on 11th December 1915, he was living at Mill Cottage, Mill Lane, Bentley Heath and working as an estate agent. He was unmarried and aged 35 years, four months. Initially posted to the Army Reserve, he was called for service with the Royal Warwickshire Regiment in October 1916, before being transferred to the Royal Field Artillery the following month. He first saw service overseas on 29th March 1917, just 59 days before he was killed. His next-of-kin was listed at his brother Thomas Edgar Vaughan, of Wylde Green, Sutton Coldfield.
Norman Vaughan is buried at H.A.C. Cemetery in Écoust-Saint-Mein, France but doesn’t appear to be commemorated locally in Solihull or Knowle, except on the Roll of Honour of Avenue Bowling Club, which was founded in 1905.
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