Two local men lost their lives on 1st September 1918 whilst on active service. Private Hubert John Draper was serving with 4th Battalion, London Regiment (Royal Fusiliers) whilst Private Frank George England was with the Queen’s Own (Royal West Kent Regiment) attached to the 1st/20th Battalion, London Regiment.
Hubert John Draper was born in 1888 in Hampton-in-Arden and was the eighth of the 12 children (four sons, eight daughters) of parents George (a bricklayer) and Elizabeth (née Simcox) who had married in Elizabeth’s home parish of West Bromwich in 1876. Three of the children – Arthur (born and died 1878), Elizabeth Ann (born and died 1879) and Sarah Elsie (1884-1885) – died as infants.
One of the siblings – Thomas Samuel Draper (1883-1959) – is known to have served in the Army. He joined the King’s Royal Rifle Corps in 1900, and served in South Africa, Malta, Crete and Egypt before being transferred to the Reserves in 1908. He was re-engaged in 1912, and then again in February 1917, in order to complete 21 years’ service.
Hubert originally also joined the King’s Royal Rifles, attesting on 4th September 1914, aged 26 years and 190 days, listing his occupation as a labourer. However, the service record gives his name as “Ewart John Draper”, despite the recruit’s signature clearly being in the name of Hubert John Draper. Hubert’s name was listed in the Coventry Herald 12th September 1914 as one of 23 old boys of George Fentham School, Hampton-in-Arden known to be serving with the armed forces.
On 12th October 1914, 39 days after enlisting, Hubert Draper was discharged from the Army as medically unfit. We don’t know when he joined the London Regiment but he didn’t see any overseas service before 1916.
The Coventry Herald of 22nd December 1917 lists Hubert Draper as one of the soldiers home on leave from the Front.
He was killed in action on 1st September 1918 and is buried at Peronne Communal Cemetery Extension in France. He is commemorated locally on Hampton-in-Arden war memorial.
Francis George England, known as Frank, was born in Olton, Solihull on 10th August 1899 and was the fourth of the seven children (two sons, five daughters) of parents Thomas Henry (a labourer) and Annie (née Robinson) who had married in Annie’s home parish of Sibford Gower, Oxfordshire in 1892. At the time of the marriage, Thomas was living in Acocks Green and working as a waggoner.
The couple initally set up home in Elmdon, where their eldest child, Annie Amelia, was born and baptised in 1893. By 1895 when their second daughter, Elizabeth Mary, was the born, the family was living in Mill Lane, Solihull. By the time the third child, Thomas Henry, was born in October 1896, the family had moved to Olton, where the youngest three children were born – Dora Alexandra (born 1902), Doris Lilian (1905-1975) and Olive Reba (1906-1972). Some of the children are known to have attended St Margaret’s School, Olton.
Frank lied about his age in order to join the Army at the age of 15. He seems initially to have been assigned to the Hampshire Regiment, before being transferred to the Queen’s Regiment.
Frank was killed in action and, having no known grave, is commemorated on the Vis-en-Artois memorial as well as on the memorial at St Margaret’s Church, Olton.
Frank’s brother, Thomas Henry, known as Tom to distinguish him from his father who had the same name, also served in the Army, joining the Royal Warwickshire Regiment on 29th October 1914. He served in France from 22nd March 1915 and was posted to the 15th (Service) Battalion (2nd Birmingham) in April 1917. He was demobilised in April 1919 and died of pneumonia on 9th November 1941.
The boys’ mother, Annie, died in 1928 and their father remarried the following year, dying himself in 1936. The 1939 Register shows his widow, Emily, living in Lyndon Cottages, Olton with her stepson, Thomas Henry.
If you have any further information, please let us know. Many thanks to Mr B. Lancaster, great-nephew of Francis George England, for supplying information about the England family.
Heritage & Local Studies Librarian
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