21-year-old John Henry Upton died of wounds on 7th October 1917, serving as a Private with 1/6 Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment. He was the second of the four children of parents John Garfield Upton (a cab man) and Caroline (née Briscoe) who had married in Birmingham in 1894.
John Garfield Upton died at the beginning of 1901, aged just 26, leaving his widow, Caroline, with four children between the ages of one and six. At the time of the 1901 census, 26-year-old Caroline and her four young children were living in a back-to-back house in Birmingham city centre and she was working as a tin solderer.
Unsurprisingly, it seems she was unable to manage to support the family and so, by 1911, she had moved to Kent with the two youngest children – Florence Louisa (1898-1984) and James Arthur (1899-1980) – where she was a housekeeper to widower Charles Wakefield and his two young daughters (six-year-old Leah and Dora, aged five). Charles and Caroline married in 1915.
The other two children remained in the Birmingham area. By 1911, 16-year-old Lilian Beatrice Upton was in service in King’s Norton, while her 14-year-old brother John Henry, was an inmate in Marston Green Cottage Homes.
We don’t know when John enlisted in the Army but he must have been serving with the Territorial Force and volunteered for overseas service before 30th September 1914 as he was awarded the Territorial War Medal.
He is buried at Dozinghen Military Cemetery and is also commemorated on Marston Green Cottage Homes war memorial.
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Heritage & Local Studies Librarian
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