37-year-old Private Herbert Ernest Rhodes died of wounds at 56th General Hospital, Etaples on 15th October 1917, serving with the 1st Battalion, South Staffordshire Regiment. He was born in Castle Bromwich on 28th February 1880 and baptised at St Mary & St Margaret’s Church, Castle Bromwich on 4th April 1880.
Herbert was the fifth of the seven known children (six sons, one daughter) of parents John William Rhodes and Lucy (née Whitehead) who had married in Aston in 1872. His siblings were: John William (born 1872); James Arthur (born 1874); Edward Harry (1876-1877); George Charles (1877-1943); Lucy Emma (born 1883); Albert Bernard (1886-1962).
The youngest son, Albert, is known to have served in the First World War as a Gunner with the Royal Garrison Artillery. A tram driver by trade, he enlisted in December 1915 and was posted to the Army Reserve before being mobilised in November 1916. Albert survived the war, returning to live in Perry Barr with his wife, Ada. He later became an inspector on the omnibus service.
Older brother, George Charles Rhodes had moved to London by 1901, and was a police sergeant with the Metropolitan Police when he married his first wife, Gertrude Annie Prosser in 1910. By the time he retired in 1929 after 30 years’ service, he had risen to the rank of Inspector with the Hammersmith Division.
By 1901, aged 21, Herbert had become a postman and was living in the family home in Castle Bromwich. In 1906, he married Selina Lawson in Shifnal, Shropshire and the couple moved to Smethwick, Staffordshire where Herbert listed his occupation in 1911 as “town postman”. We don’t know when he enlisted in the Army but he didn’t see overseas service before 1916.
Herbert is buried at the Etaples Military Cemetery, and he is also commemorated locally on Castle Bromwich war memorial.
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Heritage & Local Studies Librarian
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