Two local men lost their lives on active service on 25th March 1918. Fitter John Charles Clinton, “A” Battery, 84th Brigade, Royal Field Artillery and Private James Drew, 10th Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment.
John Charles Clinton was born in Dymock, Gloucestershire in 1896 and was the eldest of the 11 children (eight sons, three daughters) of parents, John (a coachman) and Emily, who had married in 1895. By 1901 the family had moved to Ladywood, Birmingham and, by 1903, they had moved to Sheldon, where they remained until at least 1911.
John Charles Clinton became a gardener and married Ethel M. Lamb in the Aston district in 1917. The couple appear to have set up home in Ward End, while John’s parents were living in Grove Road, Solihull.
John’s brother, Allan George Clinton (1899-1962) enlisted in the Royal Tank Corps on 30th July 1917, giving his address as the family home in Grove Road.
John is known to have served first of all as a Private with the Duke of Edinburgh’s (Wiltshire) Regiment before being transferred to the Royal Field Artillery. He first entered a Theatre of War on 20th July 1915, so must have volunteered for the Army rather than being conscripted.
In 1917 he married Ethel M. Lamb in Aston and their only child, John Harold Clinton, was born on 18th July 1918, almost four months after his father’s death. John Harold Clinton died in 1984, aged 66, by which time he was living in Dunster Road, Chelmsley Wood.
Fitter John Charles Clinton is buried at Wimereux Communal Cemetery in France and is also commemorated locally on Solihull war memorial.
James Wilshire Drew was born in Solihull on 11th February 1896 and was the eldest of the three sons of parents Eli James Drew (a gardener) and Emily Louise (née Hanney) who had married at Stourbridge in 1895.
James was baptised at St Alphege Church, Solihull on 12th April 1896, at which time his parents were living in Drury Lane, Solihull, where they remained until at least August 1904, when the youngest child, John Eli Drew (1904-1967) was baptised. Middle brother, Henry Charles Drew (1900-1971) was also born in Solihull, on New Year’s Eve 1900. The Drew family moved to Kenilworth sometime between 1904 and 1911, and they then seem to have remained there until at least the 1930s. James’ father, Eli, was the head gardener to Birmingham businessman (Frank) Dudley Docker, who lived at The Gables, Crackley, Kenilworth from c. 1900 until 1934.
In 1911, 15-year-old James was working as an errand boy at a bicycle shop in Kenilworth. Unpublished research by the late Alan Tucker indicates that James had been Head Chorister at St Alphege Church, Solihull before going on to become a clerk. He was apparently a keen photographer and talented artist. Before war broke out, he became engaged to a girl in Coventry. He enlisted in Coventry in January 1916 and is known to have come home on leave in December 1917.
He was killed in action near Ovillers in the 1st Battle of Bapaume. His body was never found and he is commemorated on the Arras Memorial. He is also commemorated locally on Solihull war memorial, as well as having a commemoration on a painting in St Katherine’s Chapel at St Alphege Church, on which he is described as “some time a server at the altar in this chapel”. He is also known to be commemorated on the Coventry Roll of Honour, Kenilworth Roll of Honour and war memorial, at Oddfellows Hall, Leamington, the Memorial Park, Coventry and at St Nicholas’ Church, Kenilworth.
If you have any further information on either of these men, please let us know.
Heritage & Local Studies Librarian
tel.: 0121 704 6977