Gunner Ralph George Baker, 309 Siege Battery, Honourable Artillery Company, died of pneumonia on 18th May 1918 in a German Hospital as a Prisoner of War. He was born in Handsworth on 12th July 1898, and was the second of the three sons of Charles (a jeweller) and Amelia (known as Minne) (née Deakin).
The family moved from Handsworth to Hampton-in-Arden sometime between 1902 and 1911, and Ralph apparently attended the boys’ school in the village (information from Clive Hinsull, Hampton-in-Arden Local History Society).
Ralph Baker was admitted into the Honourable Artillery Company on 22nd August 1916, going overseas on 9th June 1917. Information from the family suggests that he was one of 15 men sent to the headquarters of 47th Brigade at Villers-Faucon on 14th March 1918. He was captured and taken to Germany.
His parents received two field postcards from him. The first said that he was a prisoner of war, and the second that he was wounded. His parents then had no further information until the following year, when the Coventry Herald of 8th February 1919 reported that the War Office had told the family that he died of pneumonia on 18th May 1918. The article described him as “a very quiet and reserved youth.”
His younger brother, Arnold (born 1902) was too young to serve in the war, but older brother, Harold Charles Baker (1895-1949) served as a Private in the 3rd Battalion Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry.
In 1938, Charles Baker changed occupations and became the licensee of the Queen’s Head in Meriden. His son, Harold, took over management of the public house in 1949 and died there of a sudden illness in 1949, aged 54, leaving a widow and three children. In 1953, Charles also died at the pub, apparently suffering a heart attack whilst shooting rabbits in a field behind the Queen’s Head.
Ralph Baker is commemorated at Cambrai East Military Cemetery, France. He is also commemorated locally on Hampton war memorial.
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Heritage & Local Studies Librarian
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