Two local men lost their lives on 24th April 1918 whilst on active service – Corporal William Henry Harrison, 1st Battalion Cheshire Regiment, and Private Arthur Ronald Prentice, 14th Battalion, Gloucestershire Regiment.
William Henry Harrison – known as Harry – was born in Solihull in 1883 and baptised at St Alphege Church on 22nd April 1883. His mother, Jane Harrison (born 1866), was the older sister of John Harrison, a postman in Solihull, and it seems that John brought up his sister’s son alongside his own children. John’s son, John Thomas Harrison, was killed on 7th October 1916.
Harry became a carter and worked for Bragg Brothers, builders, in Drury Lane, Solihull, before enlisting in the Worcestershire Regiment on 5th July 1904, aged 21 years, four months. He gave his next of kin as John Harrison, his uncle, of Grove Road, Solihull.
In January 1905, Harry was transferred to the King’s Liverpool Regiment, in which he served until he purchased his release in 1909, paying £25. Two-thirds of this was refunded to his widow, as he re-enlisted on 4th January 1915.
He married Emily Jane Hooker on 22nd October 1910 at Nuthurst-cum-Hockley Heath and the couple set up home in School Lane, Hockley Heath, where Harry was working as a labourer. They had three children – William Henry (1911-1984), Frederick John (1913-1996), and Reginald James (1918-1996), who was born five months after his father’s death.
Having enlisted in January 1915, Harry was wounded in 1916 and invalided home with a severe gunshot wound. He spent six months in hospital in Lincoln and only returned to the Front in January 1918, three months before he was killed in action.
Corporal William Henry Harrison has no known grave and is commemorated on the Ploegsteert Memorial. He is also commemorated – as H. Harrison – on war memorials at Hockley Heath and Solihull.
Arthur Ronald Prentice was born in Barston in 1895, and was the second of the four sons of parents Thomas (a waggoner on a farm) and Esther (née Bennett).
By 1911, 16-year-old Arthur was still living at the family home in Barston, and working as a plough-boy on a farm. We don’t know when he joined the Army, but he didn’t see overseas service before 1916. His elder brother, Thomas Worthington Prentice (1892-1950) enlisted in July 1915.
Arthur Ronald Prentice was killed in action on 24th April 1918 and is buried at Hangard Communal Cemetery Extension. He is also commemorated locally at Barston.
If you have any further information on either of these men, please let us know.
Heritage & Local Studies Librarian
tel.: 0121 704 6977