Four local men were killed on 23rd March 1918:
- Private Sidney Bickley, 1st Battalion, Royal Berkshire Regiment
- Private Clark(e) Middleton, 5th Battalion, Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry
- Private Harry Prentice, 11th Battalion, 11th Battalion, The Queen’s (Royal West Surrey Regiment)
- Private Albert White, 10th Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment
Sidney Bickley was born in Tanworth-in-Arden in 1896 and baptised at the Church of St Mary Magdelene Church on 27th September 1896. His older sister, Maud (born 1893) was baptised at the same time.
Sidney, also recorded in some records as Sydney, was the second of eight children born to parents John (a carter on a farm) and Annie (née Taylor). By 1911, Sidney was living at Springbrook Farm, Earlswood, where he was working, aged 15, as a farm labourer. However, by the time he joined the Army he was living in Henley in Arden and he is commemorated on the war memorial there. He is also commemorated on the war memorial at Tanworth-in-Arden. He has no known grave, and his name also appears on the Arras Memorial.
Clark Middleton was born in Oxhill, Shipston on Stour, in 1882 and was baptised there on 14th October 1883. Rather surprisingly, there was another Clarke Middleton born in Moreton Morrell in 1882, which does seem to have caused confusion for some researchers.
Soldiers Died in the Great War gives Oxhill as the birthplace of Private Clark Middleton, who died on 23rd March 1918. The other Clarke Middleton, apparently born on 10th April 1882, followed in the footsteps of his father, Joseph, and became a farmer in Stratford. He died in Banbury in 1964, aged 82.
‘Our’ Clark (recorded in some records as Clarke) was the youngest of the five children (four boys, one girl) of Clark (an agricultural labourer) and Ann Middleton (née Fessey) who had married in 1869. Ann died in 1896, and Clark (senior) died in 1913, aged 80.
Clark (junior) married Ellen Richardson in 1909, and they set up home in the Solihull area, where Clark was working as a carter. Their daughter, Ellen Irene, was born on 17th November 1910 and baptised on 29th January 1911 at St Alphege Church, at which time the family was living at Grove Road. By the time of the census on 2nd April 1911, they were living with Ellen’s widowed father in Marshall Lake Road, Shirley.
Clark and Ellen appear to have had two more children – John William (1913-1968) and Kathleen Mary (born 1916). By May 1919, when Clark was declared presumed dead after being reported missing several months previously, the family was apparently living in Saddler’s Arms Cottage, Solihull.
He is commemorated at Chauny Communal Cemetery British Extension, and is also commemorated locally on Solihull war memorial. His name was also listed on the war memorial to Solihull Lodge (no. 506) of the Grand Independent Order of Loyal Caledonian Corks (GIOLCC), which was situated in Christ Church Congregational Church, Warwick Road, Solihull.
Harry Prentice was born in Barston in 1877 and was baptised at St Swithin’s Church on 5th August the same year. Harry was the third of the 16 children of parents William (a labourer) and Ellen (née Randall) who had married in Barston in 1873. The couple had nine sons, of whom five served in the war, and two – Harry and James (born 1898) – died. The boys’ cousin, Arthur Ronald Prentice, also died in the war.
Harry became a general labourer and married Edith Mary Woodward in Barston in 1909. Edith was the sister of Walter Edward Woodward, of Barston, who died in February 1917. Harry and Edith had three daughters, Beatrice Mary (1910-1924), Dorothy Mary (1912-1999) and Gladys Helen (1914-1994).
Private Harry Prentice has no known grave and is commemorated on the Arras Memorial. He is also commemorated locally on Barston war memorial. One of his nephews (son of his brother, Wilfred) was named Harry in his memory.
Albert White was born in Lapworth in 1898 and was the second of the three sons of parents, George and Ellen (née Corfield) who had married at Lapworth in 1896. At the time of the marriage, George was listed as a butcher, although he had become a coachman by the time of his son Albert’s baptism in 1899. By 1901, he was still listed as a coachman although, by 1911, he was working as a gardener. The couple apparently had a fourth child, who had died before 1911.
Albert’s elder brother, George (born 27th October 1896) also served in the war, and died of tuberculosis in 1920. Youngest son, Ernest John, born 1900, would have been liable for call up from the summer of 1918 but is not known to have served in the war.
Private Albert White was killed in action at the Battle of St Quentin and is commemorated on the Arras Memorial. He is also commemorated locally on memorials at Lapworth and Hockley Heath.
If you have any further information on any of these men, please let us know.
Heritage & Local Studies Librarian
tel.: 0121 704 6977