26th September 1918

21-year-old Signaller Frederick James Mellish died on 26th September 1918 whilst serving with the 297th Siege Battery Royal Garrison Artillery. He died at No. 3 Canadian General Hospital, Bolougne of bronchial pneumonia and wounds from a gas shell.

Frederick James Mellish was born in Marston Green in 1897 and was the elder of the two surviving children of parents Arthur George Isaac (known as George) and Mary Ann (née White) who had married in the Martley district of Worcestershire in 1895. George was a coal merchant with his own business whilst Mary Ann worked for Dr Bernard Wall in Coleshill as a nurse.

After their marriage, the couple set up home in Elmdon Road, Marston Green where they lived until Mary Ann’s death on Christmas Day 1938 and George’s death in 1950.

The couple’s youngest child, Cecil Arthur, died in 1908, aged six.

Fred became an electrical switch fitter and joined the Army in December 1915, although he was immediately posted to the Reserves and not called up until May 1916. His next-of-kin were given as his father, mother, and brother, Harry.

His brother, George Henry (known as Harry), was born in 1899 and seems to have taken over their father’s coal merchant business. He was also a councillor on Bickenhill Parish Council and was presented with a fountain pen to mark his service on the council when he left Marston Green for Dorset in 1959. Harry Mellish died in Tewkesbury in 1986.

According to local historian, Margaret Francis, Harry Mellish’s business was located in the coal yard at Marston Green station. The family had built several houses in Marston Green including the block of terraced houses 86-96 just over the railway bridge in Elmdon Road.

The family had also farmed Newlands Farm which was located on land which is now Birmingham International Airport. Newlands Farm had been sold on the instruction of Major Major F. J. B. Wingfield Digby (1885-1952) as part of the sale of the outlying portions of the Coleshill Estate in July 1919. It’s likely to be at that time that the Mellish family bought the farm. The sale catalogue, pictured below, described Newlands as consisting of a two-bedroomed cottage and “an assemblage of useful farm buildings.”

Fred Mellish is buried at Terlinchthun British Cemetery, Wimille, France and is also commemorated locally on war memorials at Bickenhill and Marston Green.

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

Tracey Williams
Heritage & Local Studies Librarian

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

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