Two men with a local connection lost their lives on active service on 9th August 1918, the day after the start of the Battle of Amiens – Lance Corporal William Broadfield 2nd/10th Battalion, London Regiment, and Private Herbert Ronald King, 25th Battalion, Canadian Infantry.
William Broadfield was born in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire in 1897. His parents were William Broadfield and Sarah (née Rowley) who married in Stockton-on-Tees in 1896. We haven’t been able to find the family on the 1901 census but, by 1911, 13-year-old William was living in Marston Green Cottage Homes and it seems that his father had died.
Also in the Homes at the same time was John Broadfield, aged 7. It looks as if John died in 1914, aged 11. He was buried at Coleshill but the death was registered under the name Frederick Jack Broadfield. His birth was actually registered in Birmingham in 1903 as Jack Frederick Broadfield. It seems that he had a twin brother – Norman Ernest – who appears to have died in 1905, aged two years.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission gives William’s relatives as his parents, William and Sarah Broadfield, of Alexandra Street, Ladywood. The 1911 census shows a Sarah Broadfield, aged 48 and a widow, living in Alexandra Street and working as a laundress. Sarah noted that she had been married for 16 years and had three children. With her is a six-year-old daughter, Nellie, born in Staffordshire.
William Broadfield’s entry in the National Roll of Honour indicates that he volunteered for active service in October 1915 and was killed in action on 9th August during the Allied Advance. He is buried at Corbie Communal Cemetery Extension and is also commemorated on the war memorial plaque of Marston Green Cottage Homes.
Herbert Ronald King was born in Lapworth on 24th February 1898 and was the eldest of the three children of parents Herbert William King (a farmer) and Alice Elizabeth (née Neale) who had married in the bride’s home parish of Coleshill in 1895. His younger siblings – Nancie May (1901-1950) and Thomas William (born 1909) – were both born in Coleshill.
The 1901 census lists Herbert Ronald King as H. Ronald King, suggesting he was known by his middle name. He is known to have attended Coleshill Grammar School.
In April 1911, the family was still living at Coleshill, although 13-year-old Herbert Ronald was listed as a visitor at Church Farm, Bickenhill. His mother, Alice Elizabeth King, died between January-March 1912, aged 42.
In April 1912, aged 14, he emigrated to Canada with his father and siblings, aged 10 and two, arriving in Halifax, Nova Scotia and listing their intended residence as Granville Ferry, Nova Scotia. Herbert William declared that he had worked as a farmer for 31 years, and intended to carry on the occupation in Canada. His son, Herbert Ronald, also became a farmer, giving this as his occupation when he volunteered for the Canadian Infantry at the beginning of April 1916, just over a month after his 18th birthday. He was hospitalised with measles the following month.
He arrived in England in October 1916 and was posted to France in May 1917. He was admitted to hospital in Rouen in September 1917 suffering from enteritis and bronchitis, and was invalided to England in October 1917. He was discharged to his unit on 1st March 1918 and returned to France in June 1918.
He was killed in action and is buried at Rosieres Communal Cemetery Extension. He is commemorated on Coleshill War Memorial. With the family having moved away from his birthplace of Lapworth by 1901, his name is not included on Lapworth war memorial.
After the war had ended, his father and siblings returned to England, arriving at Liverpool on 13th December 1918 aboard the Aquitania. His sister, Nancie May (described on the passenger list as a 17-year-old “farmerette”) married George William Donald Edwards in 1927 and died in Addenbrookes Hospital on 25th January 1950, aged 49.
His father, Herbert William King, continued to live in Coleshill, running a poultry and small farm in Coleshill with his second wife, Annie. He died in 1949, aged 84.
If you have any further information, please let us know.
Heritage & Local Studies Librarian
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