Two local men lost their lives on 23rd October 1917 whilst on active service in Flanders with the Royal Garrison Artillery. Acting Bombardier William Brookes Hadley was serving with “G” Anti-Aircraft Battery, whilst Acting Bombardier Herbert John Snow was with the 155th Heavy Battery.
William Brookes Hadley was born in Rowley Regis in 1892 and was the eldest of the seven children of parents John Hadley (1868-1907) and Mary (née Carr). The Hadley family lived at Ramrod Hall Farm for several generations.
His father, John, a brick manufacturer at Gower Blue Brick Works, Tividale, took his own life in 1907 following bankruptcy proceedings in 1906, which his widow said at the inquest had had a serious effect on him, mentally and physically. It seems that after John’s death, his widow continued to live at the farm with her children and her second husband, Harry Williams, whom she married in 1910.
In 1911, 18-year-old William was working on the family farm in Rowley Regis. He moved with his mother and step-father to Ingleside, Shirley sometime between 1911 and when he enlisted in the Army.
Two of his younger brothers are also known to have served in the Armed Forces:
- Major Stuart Hadley (Major being his first name, not a rank) was a boarder at a private school in Dorridge in 1911 and enlisted in the Royal Air Force in 1918
- Baron Hadley (1906-1968), the youngest of the seven children, joined the Royal Tank Corps in 1926
William Brookes Hadley is buried in Minty Farm Cemetery, Belgium and is also commemorated locally on Shirley war memorial. His name is also included on the war memorial triptych (pictured above), which used to be in St James’ Church, Shirley.
Herbert John Snow was born in Ladywood, Birmingham on 13th February 1888 and was baptised, aged five, at Immanuel Church, Broad Street on 28th January 1894. His brother, Arthur Christopher Snow (born 9th January 1885) was also baptised at the same time.
Herbert was the youngest of the five children (four sons, one daughter) of parents, Samuel (a window blind maker) and Mary Ann (née Hawkes) who had married in 1875. Samuel died in in 1893, aged 44, leaving his widow with four children aged between six and sixteen. The couple’s eldest child, and only daughter, Ada Mary, died in 1884, aged eight.
In 1897, Mary Ann married Peter Richard Longmore, a greengrocer, and by 1911, was living with him in Balsall Heath with her two youngest sons, Arthur and Herbert.
It appears that Herbert left England for Canada in 1909, the same year in which his brother, Samuel (born 1878) seems to have died at sea aboard the Lockwood. Eldest brother, William, had emigrated to Australia by 1917, and the remaining brother, Arthur Christopher, also left for Adelaide in 1911. It seems that Arthur returned to England and lived in Coventry where he worked as a clerk. He then emigrated to Adelaide, aged 59, with his wife, Isobel (58) in 1926.
Described as a labourer on the ship’s passenger list in 1909, William subsequently enlisted in the Canadian Militia (35 Field Regiment). By 1914, he had returned to England, where he married Sarah Elizabeth Paul at St Paul’s Church, Birmingham on 11th April 1914. His occupation was given as a carrier, and his address was 4 North End Cottages, Knowle, the same address he gave when he enlisted in the British Army on 4th December 1915.
He embarked with the British Expeditionary Force on 20th March 1917, and was promoted Acting Bombardier on 9th April 1917, six months before he was killed. His personal effects – letters, photos, wallet, metal watch (broken), metal mirror (in case), metal chain, razor (in case) – were sent to his widow in February 1918. She also received a weekly pension of 13/9 from 13th May 1918. It doesn’t seem that the couple had any children, as no provision for a child was made by the military authorities.
Herbert John Snow is buried at Cement House Cemetery in Belgium, and is also commemorated locally in the Soldiers’ Chapel, Knowle.
If you have any further information about any of these men, please let us know.
Heritage & Local Studies Librarian
tel.: 0121 704 6977