Gunner William Henry Eagles, aged 25, died on 28th October 1917 whilst serving with the 145th Heavy Battery, Royal Garrison Artillery. He was born in Berkswell in 1892 and was the fifth of the nine children of parents, Henry (a railway platelayer) and Annie Elizabeth (née Joyce), who had married at Berkswell in 1884.
In 1891, the Eagles family was living in Beech Wood, Berkswell. In 1898, Henry Eagles died, aged 35, and was buried at Berkswell, although his abode was listed as Birmingham. His widow was left to bring up seven children, aged from under one to 13. One of their daughters, Margaret Caroline (1893-1893), died in infancy, whilst the youngest child, Louisa, died in 1899, aged under one. A third sister, Amy Louisa (1888-1915) also died young.
Aged only 38 when she was widowed, Annie remarried in 1900, and went on to have a son, William Underhill (1901-1915), with her second husband, also William Underhill. The couple were living in Burton Green by March 1901 but William died in July 1901, barely a year after his marriage and when his son was only a few months old.
By 1911, and a widow for the second time, Annie Underhill was living in Saltley, Birmingham with several of her working-age children: cycle chain maker, Amy Louisa (1889-1915); railway carriage worker George Alexander (1891-1979); cycle chain maker Caroline Annie (1895-1954) and cycle worker, 19-year-old William Henry.
By the time he enlisted in the Army on 27th January 1916, William Henry Eagles was a 23-year-old hydraulic pressman. It was noted that his brother, George, was serving with the forces in France. A younger brother, Alfred Charles Eagles (1897-1974) enlisted shortly before William, on 10th January 1916. Both men gave their address on enlistment as their mother’s home, 4/23 Malthouse Lane, Washwood Heath.
William Henry Eagles was killed in action on 28th October 1917, and is buried at The Huts Cemetery, Belgium. As the family had moved away from Berkswell, his name is not included on the village war memorial.
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