Three local men lost their lives on 28th November 1917 whilst on active service:
- Lance Corporal Bernard Greenland, 2nd Battalion, Hampshire Regiment
- Private Josiah Hill, 7th Battalion, Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry
- Private Frederick James Palmer, 5th Battalion, Royal Berkshire Regiment
All three have no known grave and are commemorated on the Cambrai Memorial.
Bernard Greenland was born on 11th December 1893 and was the youngest of the five children of parents Thomas (clerk to a coffin maker) and Georgina (née Blundell) who had married in 1885.
The couple set up home in Handsworth before moving to Georgina’s home town of Knowle sometime between 1893-1901. They remained at the same address – 79 Lodge Road – until at least 1939. Thomas died in 1940, and Georgina in 1942.
Bernard was a lithographer’s apprentice by the age of 17. We don’t know when he enlisted but it seems he didn’t see any overseas service before 1916. His brother, Thomas Harold (1887-1957) also saw active service, serving with the South Staffordshire Regiment until being discharged in May 1919, having been wounded.
Bernard was initially posted as missing in action. He has no known grave, and is commemorated on the Cambrai Memorial. He is also commemorated locally in the Soldiers’ Chapel, Knowle, and also has an individual plaque in the choir stalls at Knowle parish church.
Also commemorated on the Cambrai Memorial is Josiah Hill, who was born in Hampton-in-Arden in 1896 and was the youngest of the 12 children of parents John and Mary Ann (née Pickering). Two of the children – twins Samuel Nathaniel and Mabel Florence – died as infants in 1891 and 1892 respectively. Another two – John Joseph (born 1887) and William Thomas (born 1889) – died in 1913. By the time their mother, Mary Ann, died in 1925, she had suffered the loss of five of her children.
Josiah’s father, John, died in 1906, aged 49, and his widow, Mary Ann, then moved to Olton. In 1911, she was living at Ulverley Terrace, Olton with her sons, Josiah, who was aged 14 and working as an errand boy, and John Joseph, a 24-year-old carter. Also in the house were her three-year-old grandson, Leslie, and her nephew and niece.
Josiah was killed in action and has no known grave. He is commemorated locally on the war memorial at St Margaret’s Church, Olton.
Frederick James Palmer was born in 1888 at Hockley Heath and was the second of the seven children (five sons, two daughters) of parents William (a farm bailiff at Box Tree) and Eleanor (née Hinton) who had married in Aston in 1884. The two daughters – Nellie (born and died 1891) and Florence Ada (1892-1896) – died as infants.
Of the five sons, four are known to have served in the Armed Forces, with one (Frederick) being killed, and two – Arthur Walter (1896-1956), serving with the King’s Royal Rifle Corps) and Harold (1898-1980), serving with the Army Service Corps – being wounded, with both suffering gun shot wounds in October 1918. The fourth brother, William (born 1885), was listed as Frederick’s executor and, when probate was granted in 1918, was listed as serving with the Royal Air Force.
Frederick was killed in action and, having no known grave, is commemorated on the Cambrai Memorial. He is also commemorated locally on Hockley Heath village memorial, and the memorial plaque at St Thomas’s Church, Hockley Heath.
If you have further information on any of these men, please let us know.
Heritage & Local Studies Librarian
tel.: 0121 704 6977