12th September 1918

Two men with a local connection lost their lives on 12th September 1918 whilst on active service – Sergeant Allen Noel Birkett Barker, 66th Brigade HQ, Royal Garrison Artillery and Lance Corporal Philip West, 2nd/4th Battalion, Hampshire Regiment.

Allen Noel Birkett Barker, known as Noel, was the fourth of the five children (four sons, one daughter) of parents Tom Birkett Barker and Marian Martha (née Allen). He was the second son to be killed – the eldest brother, Holroyd Birkett Barker, having died in August 1917. The two other brothers, Fred Ronald (1890-1954) and Greville (1893-1968), were both wounded during the war.

Noel was born in Acocks Green in 1891 and baptised at St Margaret’s Church, Olton on 25th March 1892. By 1901, the family had moved to Dorridge, moving to The Croft, Lapworth by 1911 and remaining there until the 1930s.

The Warwick and Warwickshire Advertiser 12th December 1914 reported that three of the four sons of Mr Tom Birkett Barker were now serving in the Army – Noel, Fred, and Greville. The other son, eldest brother Holroyd, was gazetted Second Lieutenant on probation in December 1915.

Noel was educated at Arden Lawn School, Henley-in-Arden, and at Warwick and Shrewsbury Schools. He also attended the Ecole Central Technique in Brussels. He arrived in France with his regiment on 1st October 1915. He died at 42 Casualty Clearing Station on 12th September 1918 as a result of wounds received in Aubigny, in Artois, France.

He is buried at Aubigny Communal Cemetery Extension and is commemorated locally on war memorials at Lapworth and Hockley Heath, as well as on Arden Lawn School Memorial. He was a Member of Nottingham Rowing Club and of University College Nottingham Officer Training Corps. In 1920, his father presented to Nottingham Rowing Club a shield in memory of his son.

Philip West was born in Great Packington in 1877 and baptised there on 2nd December 1877. He was the fifth of the 11 children (six sons, five daughters) of parents Thomas (a carpenter) and Mary.

By 1901, Philip had left home and, aged 14, was a live-in farm servant at Outwoods Farm on the Aylesford estate.

We don’t know when he joined the Army but he didn’t see any overseas service before 1916. He enlisted at Winchester, giving his birthplace as Great Packington and his residence as Meriden. The family home was at Waterfall Cottage, which is now a Grade II-listed building.

Lance-Corporal West was killed in action and is buried at Hermies Hill British Cemetery. He is commemorated locally on Meriden war memorial.

If you have any further information, please let us know.

Heritage & Local Studies Librarian

tel.: 0121 704 6977
email: heritage@solihull.gov.uk



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