Two local men lost their lives on 6th October 1918 as a result of their war service. Charles Leonard Ball had been discharged from the Army so doesn’t actually appear on any official records as a casualty, although his name is recorded locally on Olton war memorial. Private Stephen Mumford MM, 50th Battalion, Machine Gun Corps died on active service in France, possibly as a prisoner of war.
Charles Leonard Ball was born in Olton in 1891 and was baptised at St Margaret’s Church, Olton in March 1896. Known as Leonard, He was the sixth of the seven children (three sons, four daughters) of parents Thomas (a bricklayer’s labourer) and Charlotte Annie (known as Annie) (née Cooper) who had married at Sheldon in February 1882, with the bride and groom both living in Sheldon. They had moved to Olton by 1885 when their eldest son, James Henry Ball, was born and remained there until at least 1901. Sometime between 1901-1911, the family moved to Acocks Green.
Two of the children, twins Caroline Emma and Margaret Elizabeth, were born and died in 1887.
In April 1917, Leonard married Clarissa Gertrude Hulston (1893-1968) at Acocks Green Baptist Church. They are not known to have had any children.
Leonard was called up for service on 1st February 1917, giving his occupation as a warehouseman. Initially posted to the Army Service Corps as a Driver, he was transferred to the 3rd Battalion, Royal West Kent Regiment in June 1917. He did not see any overseas service before becoming ill in July 1917 and being discharged as medically unfit for further military service in December 1917.
The cause of his disability was listed as “calculus, kidney”, aggravated (but not caused by) his military service. His service record indicates that an operation had revealed 15 large cysts on the kidney. It was noted that he was totally incapacitated but that his condition was expected to improve after a period in a convalescent hospital.
He died on 6th October 1918 at Romsley Hill Sanatorium, Romsley, Worcestershire. Having been discharged from the Army, he didn’t qualify for a military pattern headstone and is not listed on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.
Stephen Mumford was born in Alcester on 15th December 1894 and was the second of the ten children (six sons, four daughters) of parents, Harry (a farm labourer) and Ellen (née Ross) who had married at Studley parish church in 1893, when Harry was aged 19 and Ellen was 23.
Two of the couple’s children – Joyce Esther (born and died 1897) and Henry Charles (1906-1909) – died in infancy. A third child, Hilda Winifred, died in 1926, aged 18.
The family moved between Warwickshire and Worcestershire villages quite frequently, as can be seen by the children’s birthplaces – Nellie (1893-1975), born Studley; Stephen (1894-1918), born Alcester; Enoch (1898-1970) born Wythall; Lily Maud (born 1901 in Hatton); Harold Algernon (1903-1962), born Rowington; Henry Charles (1906-1909), born Temple Balsall; Hilda Winifred (1907-1926), born Temple Balsall; Dennis (1909-1988), born Temple Balsall; and Ernest (1910-1979), born Redditch).
Stephen is known to have attended Temple Balsall School whilst the family lived in Temple Balsall (c.1904-c.1909). He had become a farm labourer by the age of 16 and, according to a researcher at Beoley, he enlisted in the Army in October 1915 whilst living at Dagnell End Farm, Beoley, near Redditch.
His younger brother, Enoch, also joined the Army, serving as a Private in the Worcestershire Regiment. It seems that he was also missing in action, as his mother contacted the Red Cross to enquire if there was any news of him as he was last seen on 13th April 1918. He did survive the war, but we don’t have any further details of his service. The other brothers – Harold and Ernest – were too young to have served.
The London Gazette 29th March 1918 announced that Pte Stephen Mumford was awarded the Military Medal for gallantry in the field. No citation for this is known but it’s suggested that the relevant action leading to the award could have been at either Cambrai or Ypres.
Official records list his death as “accepted” rather than “presumed”, which may suggest that he was taken as a prisoner of war but died before reaching Germany. He is buried at Glageon Communal Cemetery Extension and is commemorated on war memorials at Beoley and Wythall. As the family was in Temple Balsall for only about five years, and had left some five years before the war began, his name is not included on Temple Balsall war memorial.
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