Private William Barry Lane, of Shirley, died on 2nd July 1917 whilst on active service with the 178th Company Mechanical Transport, Army Service Corps. He was the second of the eight children (four boys, four girls) of parents Walter Charles (a billiard marker) and Lizzie (née Barry) who had married in 1886. Of the couple’s eight children, one of the boys and three of the girls had died in infancy by 1911 (Walter Charles 1887-1892, Ethel Annie Mabel 1890-1892, May 1894-1896, and Annie, who was born and died in 1900). Tragically, two more of the boys would die in their 20s – one in the First World War, and one is believed to have died in a private asylum in Knowle.
William was born on 28th August 1888 and baptised at SS Peter and Paul’s Church, Aston on 14th October 1888. His older brother, Walter Charles (1887-1892), who was born on 27th January 1888, was baptised at the same time. Walter died, aged five, in 1892.
By 1901, the family had moved to Balsall Heath. Another child, Victor, was born later in 1901 or early in 1902. The Leamington Spa Courier indicates that, in June 1908, Victor was elected for admission to the Midland Counties Idiot Asylum, a charitable institution “for the care and training of feeble-minded children”. He was not in the family home in 1911, but there is a male patient “V. L.”, aged 8, in Knowle Asylum on the 1911 census, so this is likely to be the same person. Victor Lane died in the Solihull district in 1924, aged 23, so it is possible that he died in Knowle Asylum.
By 1911, parents Walter and Lizzie were living at St Leonard’s, Solihull Road, Shirley with two of their four surviving children: 22-year-old William (an electrician) and his 15-year-old sister, Lily, a telegraph messenger.
The remaining brother, Frederick Gordon Lane (apparently known by his middle name), who was born on 9th August 1892, was boarding in Berkswell in 1911, and recorded as a gardener. He enlisted in the Army on 14th August 1914 and served with the 6th Dragoon Guards until he was discharged unfit in January 1918. He subsequently became a gardener at a “home for mental defectives” in Kings Heath, marrying Blanche Theodora Williams (1911-1982), a “mental nurse”, in 1938. It doesn’t appear that they had any children before Gordon’s death, aged 59, in 1951.
William also joined the Army soon after the outbreak of war and, according to the Birmingham Daily Mail 10th July 1917, had previously worked as a chauffeur employed by Mr Parsons of Monkspath Priory. Mr Parsons’ son, Eric, was killed in action at Delville Wood in September 1916.
William died on 2nd July 1917 and is buried at Poperinghe New Military Cemetery, Beligium. He is also commemorated locally on Shirley war memorial.
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