Three local men lost their lives on 30th August 1918 whilst on active service – Private Henry Baughan, 1st Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment; Private Robert Woods, 15th Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment; and Private Alline Mountford Woollaston, 11th Battalion, Royal Fusiliers.
Henry Baughan was born in Berkswell and was the eldest of seven children (four boys, three girls). He was baptised at Berkswell on 16th March 1888 and his birth was registered as Henry Baughan Eagles, as his parents weren’t married at the time he was born. His middle name was his father’s surname, which he used as a surname once his parents married.
His parents, Annie Eagles and Harry Baughan, married on 31st December 1889 at Sparkbrook. They set up home with Harry’s widowed father, James, who was a farmer in Hob Lane, Berkswell. They were still living with him in 1901, having all moved to the 17th-century Tanyard Farm, Tanners Lane, Tile Hill, where the family apparently remained until at least the 1970s. Henry appears to have worked as a farm labourer on the family farm, as did some of his brothers.
Unmarried sisters, Annie (1893-1984) and Alice (1897-1987) operated a milk round from the farm for more than 50 years. On Easter Monday 1972, the two women (aged 78 and 74 respectively) were attacked in their home by three armed raiders who beat them with iron bars, bound and gagged them, and stole about £50 worth of property.
Two of the other siblings – Evelyn (1894-1983) and Daniel (1898-1978) – appear to have died unmarried and without children. Only one of the seven siblings is known to have had children – James George Baughan (1891-1972) who is also believed to have served as a Private in the Royal Army Service Corps during the First World War.
We don’t know when Henry enlisted in the Army, but he didn’t see any overseas service before 1916. He was killed in action and is commemorated on the Vis-en-Artois memorial, as well as on Berkswell war memorial.
Robert Woods was born in 1891 in Nuthurst-cum-Hockley Heath and was the seventh of the known 10 children of parents William Anthony Woods (a building contractor) and Jane Catherine Georgina (née Wills). The couple had 18 children in total, of whom eight had died by 1911.
By 1911, still living at the family home in Hockley Heath, 19-year-old Robert was listed as a teacher of music.
We don’t know when Robert joined the Army but he didn’t see any overseas service before 1916. He was killed in action and is buried at Mory Abbey Military Cemetery, France. He is commemorated locally on war memorials at Hockley Heath, Baddesley Clinton and St Augustine’s Catholic Church.
Alline Mountford Woollaston was born in 1898 and was the youngest of the five sons of parents Nathan Bradford Woollaston (a corn miller) and Catherine Matilda Reeve, who had married at Leamington Priors in 1889.
Only two of the sons survived into old age – eldest son John Norman Woollaston (1890-1972) and fourth son, Thomas Shirley Woollaston (1897-1971).
Known by his middle name, Shirley Woollaston served as a Private in the Royal Warwickshire Regiment during the First World War. He was a Warwickshire County Council councillor for more than 30 years and a governor of Solihull School, as well as Chairman of Governors at Sharmans Cross High School.
John Norman Woollaston was a councillor with Solihull Urban District, and was Chairman of the Council 1945-1947.
Second son, James Bradford Woollaston, died in 1893 as an infant, whilst the third son, Neville Bradford Woollaston, was killed on active service in 1917.
Alline, listed as Allen in some records, followed his brother, Neville, to Solihull School, entering the school in 1911, and leaving in 1914 after passing the Oxford Local Examinations. We don’t know when Alline joined the Army but his medal index card shows that he served with two regiments – Devonshire and London – before being transferred to the Royal Fusiliers.
Alline was killed in action on 30th August 1918 and has no known grave. He is commemorated on the Vis-en-Artois Memorial, and is also commemorated on war memorials at Shirley and at Solihull School.
If you have any further information on any of these men, please let us know.
Heritage & Local Studies Librarian
tel.: 0121 704 6977