Two local men died on 10th April 1918. Second Lieutenant Percival Horace Batchelor, Royal Warwickshire Regiment attd. 2nd/6th Bn. North Staffordshire Regiment and Private Thomas Teerheege, 3rd Battalion, Worcestershire Regiment.
Percival Horace Batchelor was born in Stratford-upon-Avon in 1892 and was the third of the six children of parents Henry (a cab driver and groom from Gloucestershire) and Elizabeth (née Sutton) who had married at Holy Trinity, Stratford in 1880. One of his brothers – Clarence Alvin Batchelor (1899-1975) is also known to have served in the First World War, having joined the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve in October 1916.
Percival is known to have moved to Handsworth and to have taken up a job as Assistant Clerk to the Solihull Board of Guardians. The Guardians of the Poor were a group of local ratepayers who were elected each year to oversee the administration of the Poor Law, including the workhouse.
On the outbreak of war, Percival joined the Local North Lancashire Regiment as a Private. He worked at the Army Pay Office in Chester before being commissioned Second Lieutenant with the Royal Warwickshire Regiment on 19th November 1917. He was then attached to the 2nd/6th Battalion North Staffordshire Regiment.
Around the same time as he received his commission, Percival married Pheobe Elsie Tongue, an insurance clerk. They only had a short period of married life together, as he was posted to France in January 1918. On 21st March 1918, it was reported that he had been wounded and captured. This was then updated to say that he had died of wounds whilst a prisoner of war. Probate records indicate that he died at Mons Hospital, Belgium. He is buried at Mons (Bergen) Communal Cemetery. Having worked in Solihull rather than living in the area, he is not commemorated on Solihull war memorial, although his name does appear on Stratford-upon-Avon war memorial and the roll of honour at Holy Trinity Church.
After the end of the war his widow, Phoebe, emigrated to India in November 1924 and it seems that she spent the rest of her life there, making only brief trips back to England. She married Captain (later Lieutenant-Colonel) Percy Charles Kinns (1892-1963), Indian Army, on 5th December 1924 at Bombay.
Thomas Terheege was born in Packington on 22nd August 1880. He was the third of the five children (four sons, one daughter) of parents, William (a labourer) and Mary (née Lines) who had married at Great Packington in 1875. Eldest son, William, died in 1877 as an infant. Thomas and younger brother George William (born 1883) were both killed in 1918 whilst on active service.
Thomas’s father, William, died in September 1885, aged 41, leaving his widow, Mary, with four children under the age of seven. Mary remarried in 1887 and, at the time of the 1891 census, was living in Hampton Lane, Meriden with her second husband, Joseph Kimberley, and the children from both of their earlier marriages.
By 1901, Thomas had moved to Sheldon Lane, Lyndon End, Olton and was working as a farm labourer. He married Lilian Gertrude Hadfield at St Martin’s Church, Birmingham in 1909 and the couple set up home in Witton, where Thomas was working as a carter in 1901. They went on to have four children: Marian Olive (born 1911), Lilian (1912-1985); Muriel 1915-1917; and Charles William (1916-1991).
We don’t know when Thomas joined the Army but he didn’t see overseas service before 1916. He was killed in action and has no known grave. He is commemorated on the Ploegsteert Memorial, Belgium. Having moved away from Olton and Meriden more than ten years earlier, his name is not included on any war memorials locally. His name does appear on a plaque at Birmingham City Council, indicating that he worked for the City Council’s Veterinary Department before joining the Army.
Thomas’s widow, Lilian Gertrude, was left with three children aged under four. She married Frederick Arthur Evans in 1922 and died in Birmingham in 1949.
If you have any further information on either of these men, please let us know. Many thanks to Thomas’s great-grandaughter, Geri, for sending us a photo of him and of the plaque at the Council House.
Heritage & Local Studies Librarian
tel.: 0121 704 6977