Three local men died on 27th May 1918 whilst on active service.
- Private Edward George Cakebread, 2nd Battalion, Devonshire Regiment
- Private Henry George Knight, 22nd Battalion, Durham Light Infantry
- Private Frank Victor Perks, 5th Battalion, Yorkshire Regiment
All three have no known grave and are commemorated on the Soissons Memorial, France.
Edward George Cakebread was born in Tyseley on 18 February 1899 and was the eldest of the seven children (four sons, three daughters) of parents George William (a jobbing gardener) and Bertha Selina (née Gilbert), who had married at Sparkhill in 1898. The family moved to Ulverley Terrace, Olton sometime between 1901-1904, and remained there until at least 1939.
According to family members, Edward attended St Margaret’s School, Olton until 1913, when he left to join the Post Office. Railway employment records show that he joined the Great Western Railway on 7th June 1915, as a cleaner at Tyseley. He left voluntarily on 30th March 1917 and, as this was just over one month after his 18th birthday, it seems likely that he was called up for active serivice.
Tragically, he was apparently granted some leave in 1918 but never made it home for the ‘Welcome Home’ tea that had been prepared for him. Two of his sisters, Eva (1903-1987) and Minnie (1906-1992) went to the station to meet him but found that he wasn’t on the train and they were later told that he had been killed. He is commemorated locally on the war memorial at St Margaret’s Church, Olton.
His brothers – Percy (1908-1972), George (1909-1990) and Ernest (1912-1998) were all too young to have served in the war.
Henry George Knight was born in Hill Ridware, Staffordshire in 1899 and was the second of the six children of parents Henry (a shepherd) and Mary Ann (née Deakin) who had married in the Lichfield district in 1897. The couple appear to have set up home in Hill Ridware before moving to King’s Bromley c. 1904 and then to Streetly by 1908.
Henry George Knight was called up to the Army in November 1917, aged 18 years and two months. He enlisted in Walsall, giving his address as Parson and Clerk Cottages, Streetly.
Henry’s mother, Mary Ann, appears to have died in 1915, aged 36, and his father remarried in Walsall in 1917. It seems that the family then moved from Streetly to 37 Bickenhill Lane, Catherine-de-Barnes sometime between November 1917 and Autumn 1918. Henry Knight also had two children from his second marriage – John Alfred (born 1918) and Edith May (born 1920).
Information from a family member is that the Knight family also lived in Ravenshaw Lane, Catherine-de-Barnes, next to the ford.
After joining the Army in November 1917, Henry George Knight was posted to France on 31st March 1918, embarking from Folkestone to Boulogne and joining the infantry base depot at Etaples on 2nd April 1918. He was killed in action just a few weeks later and is commemorated on Solihull war memorial and on a plaque on the font at the former St Catherine’s Church, Catherine-de-Barnes.
Frank Victor Perks was born in Rowington in 1897, the eldest of the five children (four sons, one daughter) of parents Frank Davis Perks (a farmer) and Charlotte Georgina (née Greves) who had married at Corley, Warwickshire in 1896.
By 1901, the family was living at Malthouse Farm, Kingswood, Lapworth where they seem to have remained until at least 1944, with Frank’s younger brother, Albert Edward Perks (1903-1961) apparently talking over the farm from his father.
Private Frank Victor Perks was initially posted as missing on 27th May 1918. He was believed to have been taken Prisoner of War. The Warwick and Warwickshire Advertiser of 4th January 1919 included an appeal from his father for any returning soldier or prisoner of war to contact the family if they had any information.
Frank is commemorated on Lapworth and Hockley Heath war memorials, as well as on the grave of his brother, Albert, in St Mary’s Church, Lapworth, which describes Frank as “missing in France, 27th May 1918”.
If you have any further information on any of these men, please let us know.
Heritage & Local Studies Librarian
tel: 0121 704 6977