Two men with a local connection lost their lives on 5th October 1918 whilst on active service – Lance Corporal Thomas Cox Cranmer, 1st/8th Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment was killed in France and Private Albert Victor Wiles, 11th Battalion, Worcestershire Regiment died in Salonika.
Thomas Cranmer was born in Wroxall on 14th January 1896 to parents Thomas (a butler at Wroxall Abbey) and Annie Elizabeth (née Jeacock) who had married at St Mary’s Church, Warwick on 10th March 1887.
The couple had four children – Harvey (1887-1977), Ellen (1890-1971), Annie (1894-1917) and Thomas – before Annie’s death, aged 41, in February 1897. Widowed, and with four children aged between one and ten, it seems that Thomas (senior) needed help, especially with his youngest son. He called on his sister, Sarah, who had married Henry Cox in 1883 and set up home in Lapworth Hill, Hockley Heath.
With no children of their own, the couple took in Thomas. Henry died in 1901, aged 62, and his widow continued to look after her nephew, describing herself as his adopted mother, although legal adoption wasn’t introduced until 1927. Army records list her more correctly as his foster mother. She worked from home as a seamstress.
Her widowed brother remarried in 1899 and continued to live in Wroxall with the other three children and his second wife, Ellen (née Bullen). The family moved to Derbyshire sometime between 1901-1911, with Thomas leaving service and becoming a dairy farmer.
Lest We Forget by Peter A. J. Hill records Lance Corporal Thomas Cox Cranmer as being a Sunday scholar, choir boy/man, crucifer and altar server at Lapworth parish church. There is a plaque to his memory in the choir stalls of the church.
He was killed in action and is commemorated on Vis-en-Artois Memorial, as well as on memorials at Lapworth and Hockley Heath.
Albert Victor Wiles was born in Berkswell on 27th September 1896 and was the tenth of the 11 children (four sons, seven daughters) of parents Edward Wiles (coachman) and Sophia Moore Taylor who had married in Leeds in May 1881.
Sometime between 1889-1891 the family moved to Berkswell, where they remained until at least 1903 when Edward died, aged 47. By 1911, his widow and three of the children – Lily (born 1893), Albert and Alice Sophia (born 1899) – had moved to Coventry where Sophia was working a boarding house keeper.
According to the Coventry Roll of Honour, Albert became a driller before enlisting in the Army. He died of malaria and is buried in Kirechkoi-Hortakoi Military Cemetery in Greece. Having moved away from his birthplace by 1911, he is not listed on Berkswell war memorial.
If you have any further information on either of these casualties, please let us know.
Heritage & Local Studies Librarian
tel.: 0121 704 6977