Two local men lost their lives on 16th April 1918 whilst on active service – Private Jim Birch, 5th Battalion, Tank Corps, and Lance Corporal Harry Moseley, 1st Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment.
Jim Birch was born in Shirley in 1898 and was the seventh of the ten children (seven sons, three daughters) of parents Richard (a horse carter and hay miller) and Elizabeth (née Trotman, sometimes recorded as Tropman), who had married in 1885. They set up home in Acocks Green and their eldest child, William Albert (known as Albert) was born there in 1886. He became a regular soldier and was killed in action on 19th June 1915, whilst serving in Gallipoli.
Sometime between 1886-1888, the family moved to Hall Green, where their next child, John Richard (1888-1962) was born. By 1890, when their daughter, Dinah Lizzie, was born, they had moved to Solihull Lodge, before moving to Cock Lane, Shirley by the time of the 1901 census. Sometime between 1901-1911 the family moved to Sparkhill, Birmingham.
We don’t know what Jim’s occupation was before he joined the Army, probably being called up soon after his 18th birthday. Enlisting in Birmingham, he was originally posted to the Royal Warwickshire Regiment, before being transferred to the Tank Corps.
Jim was killed in action at Méteren on 16th April 1918, aged 20. Having no known grave, he is commemorated on the Ploegsteert Memorial. His name is not included on Shirley war memorial, presumbably as a result of the family having moved away from the area at least five years before he was killed. His is commemorated in the Books of Remembrance at Birmingham Hall of Memory.
THE GERMAN SPRING OFFENSIVE, MARCH-JULY 1918 © IWM (Q 7924)
Harry Moseley was born in Berkswell on 4th April 1896, and was baptised at Temple Balsall on 5th July 1896. He was the fourth child of the six children (four boys, two girls) of parents Joseph (a labourer) and Elizabeth (née Daffern) who had married at Temple Balsall on 31st January 1891. His younger brother, George Thomas Moseley (1898-1924) also served in the First World War as a Private with the Oxford & Bucks Light Infantry.
Harry became a farm labourer, as did his brothers (Fred (born 1892), Edward (born 1893) and George. Sometime between 1901 and 1911, the family moved to Tile Hill, Coventry. The only daughter of the family to survive infancy, May (born 1894) became a servant and was working at Nailcote Hall in 1911. The other sister, Gertie, died in 1902, aged two.
Lance Corporal Harry Moseley died of wounds on 16th April 1918, and is buried at Lapugnoy Military Cemetery, France. He is also commemorated at Berkswell and on the Coventry Roll of Honour.
If you have any further information about either of these men, please let us know.
Heritage & Local Studies Librarian
tel.: 0121 704 6977