Two men with a local connection lost their lives on active service on 24th August 1918. Sergeant William Francis Mundy, whose parental home was in Olton died whilst serving with the 73rd Battery, 5th Brigade, Royal Field Artillery. 29-year-old Frederick Pillinger from Elmdon died whilst serving with the 16th Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment.
William Francis Mundy was born in Aston in 1883 and was the eldest of the four children (two sons, two daughters) of parents, Fred (an advertising contractor) and Ellen (née Conway) who had married in Birmingham in 1881. Sometime between 1911 and 1918, the family moved to “Hazlecroft”, St Bernard’s Road, Olton.
William was educated privately in Birmingham before attending Coventry Grammar School and then being articled to Holliday & Son, New Street, Birmingham. He moved to London and, in 1910, married Olive Mary Robinson in Camberwell. By 1911, they were living in Deptford and William was working as a draper’s assistant. The couple are known to have had two daughters, Dorothy Lilian (1911-2004) and Edna Ellen (1914-2003) before Olive’s death, aged 28, in 1915.
In 1914, William Francis Mundy joined the Army, entering a Theatre of War in France on 25th August 1915. Whilst in France, he was wounded, only being redrafted to the Front in the January before his death. The Register of Soldiers’ Effects lists him as having three children – Dorothy, Irene and Edna – although we haven’t been able to trace Irene’s birth. With his wife having predeceased him, the children’s guardian was listed as Mrs Caroline Battledore. This seems to be Ellen Caroline Battledore, wife of Robert, who lived in Southwark and died, aged 69, in 1930.
Sergeant William Francis Mundy is buried at Cabaret-Rouge British Cemetery, Souchez, France, and is commemorated locally on the war memorial at St Margaret’s Church, Olton.
Fred Pillinger was born in Aston in 1888 and was the fourth of the nine children (seven sons, two daughters) of parents William (a labourer and, later, a publican) and Louisa (née Summers).
The eldest child, William Soloman Pillinger (1884-1903) became a stone mason but died, aged 18. All the surviving brothers – George Leonard (1886-1958), Harry Augustus (1890-1961), Tom (1894-1965), Walter (1895-1964), and Frank (born 1897) – are known to have served in the military during the First World War.
When the youngest child, Frank, joined the Navy in March 1917, his address was given as that of his father – Coventry Road, Elmdon – where it seems that his father was the licensee of the Cock Inn until his death in 1933.
Fred became a driller and, after his marriage to Annie Lily Pugh in 1909, lived in Small Heath with his wife and children – William Fred (1909-1978), Leonard Frank (1911-1978), Amy Louisa (1914-1915), and Lily Mary (1916-1984).
We don’t know when Fred joined the Army, but he didn’t see any overseas service before 1916. He is buried at Adanac Military Cemetery, Miraumont, France. His name is included in the Book of Remembrance at Birmingham’s Hall of Memory, and he is also commemorated on Elmdon war memorial.
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Heritage & Local Studies Librarian
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