Three local men lost their lives on 25th September 1918 – Second Lieutenant Clive Marston Beaufoy, 10th Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment; Lieutenant Leonard Stopford Brooke, 110th Squadron, Royal Air Force; and Private John Simpson, 11th Battalion, Worcestershire Regiment.
Clive Marston Beaufoy was born in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) on 20th May 1897 to parents Samuel Marston Beaufoy and Jane Alice. The name Marston was Samuel’s mother’s maiden name.
Samuel was born in Birmingham in 1867 and became a blacksmith before joining the ranks of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment in 1888, aged 21. Samuel served in India from 1889-1891 and in Ceylon 1891-1900, completing 12 years’ service in the ranks. We haven’t been able to find Samuel’s marriage, and don’t know whether it took place in the UK,or in India or Ceylon. We also haven’t been able to find out whether Clive was an only child or had any siblings.
Clive was educated in England, attending Solihull Grammar School, and staying with his aunt and uncle, John and Ada Beaufoy, who lived at The Beeches, Shirley. Clive was baptised at St James’s Church, Shirley on 16th August 1914, which must have been around the time he joined the Army.
He enlisted as a Private in the VIIIth Platoon, B Company, 15th Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment (2nd Birmingham Pals), aged 17 years and three months. He served in France from 1915, surviving the Somme battlefields was gazetted Second Lieutenant in June 1917, being posted to 10th Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment. He was wounded and gassed in 1917, and gassed again in 1918, only returning to his battalion a few days before he was killed. He was rushing a pill box when he was shot through the head by a sniper.
He is buried at Vielle-Chapelle New Military Cemetery, Lacoutere, France. He is also commemorated on Solihull School war memorial as well as on Shirley war memorial, alongside his aunt, Matron Katy Beaufort, who died in February 1918 aboard the hospital ship, Glenart Castle.
Leonard Stopford Brooke was born in Kensington in 1895 and was the elder of the two sons of parents Leonard Leslie (an artist) and Sybil Diana (née Brooke) who married at St Thomas’s Church, Portman Square, London in 1894. The bride and groom were fifth cousins, both being 5x great-grandchildren of William Brooke (born c. 1645 in Cavan, Ireland).
Leonard Stopford Brooke was educated at Packwood Haugh School in the then Solihull Rural District from 1905-1909 before becoming a boarder at Marlborough College 1909-1912 and going on to Lincoln College, Oxford.
He was gazetted Second Lieutenant with the King’s Royal Rifle Corps in March 1915, and served in France with the Army Cyclist Corps from November 1915-March 1917. He was promoted Lieutenant and then joined the RAF, taking part in several bombing raids over Germany. He died in an air battle after a successful raid on Frankfurt and was buried in Bad Bergzabern Cemetery, Germany. He is commemorated on war memorials at Packwood Haugh School and Lincoln College.
His brother, Henry (1903-1984), became a Conservative MP and local councillor. He was Home Secretary 1962-64 and was created a life peer as Baron Brooke of Cumnor in 1966.
John Simpson was born in Berkswell in 1896 and was the third of the 12 children of parents Thomas (a railway platelayer) and Minnie Elizabeth (née Whitehead) who had married in Coventry in 1894. They were both living at Spon End at the time of their marriage but set up home in Berkswell, where their first seven children were born 1894-1904. Three of the children died in infancy – Joseph (died April 1900, aged four months), George (died February 1902, aged nine months) and Albert Edward (died January 1903, aged five months).
By 1906, the family had moved to Barston, where the remaining children were born, subsequently moving to Bradnocks Marsh sometime after 1911.
By 1911, aged 14, John had become a farm labourer. We don’t know when he enlisted, but he didn’t see overseas service before 1916. He was killed in action and has no known grave. He is commemorated on the Doiran Memorial, Greece and also locally on war memorials in Barston and Berkswell.
If you have any further information on any of these men, please let us know.
Heritage & Local Studies Librarian
tel.: 0121 704 6977