Two local men died on active service on 10th October 1917. Both have no known grave and are commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial.
- Private George Henry Burton, 16th Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment
- Captain Herbert Clement, 3rd Battalion, attached 14th Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment
George Henry Burton was born in Knowle in 1888 and was the eldest of the three sons of parents John (a farm labourer) and Harriet (née Cooper) who had married at Knowle in 1885. John also had three children with his first wife, Rinah Turner (1852-1882), although two of them died in infancy.
By 1911, John and Harriet were living at Rose Farm, Rotton Row, Knowle and John was recorded as a farmer and dairyman. Their three sons were also living at the farm. 22-year-old George Henry was working on the farm as a cowman, whilst his brothers, Ernest Edward (1890-1965) and Sidney Ronald (1893-1955) were working in the building trade as a bricklayer and carpenter respectively. Ernest is also known to have served as a Private with the Royal Warwickshire Regiment 1916-1919.
George’s mother, Harriet, died in 1915, aged 62. Her husband, John, died aged 64, in Birmingham between January-March 1917 and his estate, including Rose Farm, was sold at auction in June 1917. The Price a Parish Paid by Michael Harrison notes that George planted some ash trees at Stripes Hill, opposite the farm.
George Burton is commemorated in the Soldiers’ Chapel in Knowle parish church and at Downing Hall.
Herbert Clement was born in Battersea, London in 1888 and was the youngest of the three sons of parents, William (a bank cashier) and Archentine (née Honeycott) who had married in London in 1875. Their eldest son, William Honeycott Clement (1879-1919), also served and died in the First World War, serving as a Lieutenant with the 11th Battalion (attached 18th Battalion) London Regiment and dying in Haifa, Syria on 27th June 1919.
By 1911, Herbert had left the family home and was working as a bank clerk in Cheshire. His two brothers had also left home but were still in London and both were also working as bank officials. Sometime between 1911 and 1914, Herbert moved to “Woodcroft”, Warwick Road, Olton. He joined the Warwickshire Yeomanry as a Private and was commissioned as an officer in the Royal Warwickshire Regiment on 29th August 1914, serving initially with the 17th Reserve Battalion. He first entered a Theatre of War on 25th May 1916. By October 1917, he was commanding “A” Company, 14th Battalion, Royal Warwicks.
He was killed by a sniper in the early hours of the morning on 10th October 1917. The Battalion war diary simply notes the event but the book Harry’s war: the Great War diary of Harry Drinkwater describes how Captain Clement had orders to make a dawn attack on pillboxes, which he and those around him knew was doomed to fail. The book says that he sat in a pillbox, covered in mud – clothes, hands and face – unwilling to disobey orders but unwilling to let his men be slaughtered. At daybreak he went along the trench to look for a possible excuse commensurate with his conscience, and was sniped through the head.
He is commemorated locally on the war memorial at Olton United Reformed Church. His mother, Archentine died in 1925, aged 75, whilst his father, William, died in 1928, aged 85. Their only surviving child, Frank, died in 1974, aged 90.
If you have any further information on either of these men, please let us know.
Heritage & Local Studies Librarian
tel.: 0121 704 6977