Two men with a local connection lost their lives on 10th October 1918 whilst on active service – 30-year-old Private Wilfred Harry Bayliss, 2nd Battalion, Wiltshire Regiment, and 29-year-old Gunner Arthur Sidney Pope, “B” Battery, 56th Brigade, Royal Field Artillery.
Wilfred Harry Bayliss was born in 1889 at Wishaw, Warwickshire. His birth and baptism were registered as Harry Wilfred Bayliss, but he is listed on the 1891 census as Wilfred, and the 1901 census as Harry.
The family moved around various Warwickshire villages – Hampton-in Arden (c.1886), Wishaw (c. 1899), Drury Lane in Solihull (1891) and Olton End (c. 1893-1920s).
Information from local researcher, Clive, is that Wilfred attended Elmdon School 1902-1903. He was the second of the six children (two sons, four daughters) of Henry Bayliss (a miller’s wagoner) and Mary Ann (née Palmer) who had married at St Alphege Church, Solihull in 1883. Two of the children – Thomas Sydney (1890-1891) and Violet Irene (1894-1895) died as infants.
By 1911, Wilfred Harry Bayliss was living with his three surviving siblings – Lilian Annie (born 1886), Ilsa May (born 1892) and Ethel Daisy (born 1896) with their parents at 25 Lode Lane, Olton End, Solihull. Wilfred was working as a bricklayer in the house-building industry.
We don’t know when he enlisted in the Army, but he must have volunteered, as he first saw overseas service on 21st September 1915.
He died in a military hospital in the UK, and is buried at Tidworth Military Cemetery, which took casualties from both Tidworth and Fargo Military Hospitals. According to the Commonwealth War Graves website, the cemetery was directly connected with training grounds on on or near Salisbury Plain, so it’s possible that Wilfred died as a result of wounds received during training.
He is not amongst those commemorated on Solihull or Olton war memorials, although his parents seem to have lived at Olton End until at least the 1920s. It’s possible that he left home and moved elsewhere sometime between 1911-1915.
Arthur Sidney Pope was born in Emscote, Warwickshire in 1889 and was the sixth of the seven children (five sons, two daughters) of parents William (a coachman) and Switzerland-born Henriette (née Bardet) who had married in Haseley in 1875.
By the time of the 1911 census, Arthur had left the family home in Lapworth and was in London, living with the family of his maternal uncle, Louis Henry Bardet, and working as a cloakroom assistant in a restaurant. His mother was in Lapworth with two of her sons – 24-year-old William Edwin (a baker) and 13-year-old Frank. She died on 5th July 1911, just three months after the census was taken.
In June 1915, Arthur married Ethel Florence Woodridge at Ealing, London, giving his occupation as a soldier. This would seem to be shortly before he was posted to Egypt on active service, as he first entered a Theatre of War on 21st July 1915. It looks as if his wife died in 1917, aged 26. They don’t appear to have had any children.
Arthur is buried at Etaples Military Cemetery in France, and is commemorated locally on war memorials in Hockley Heath and Lapworth. He is also mentioned on his mother’s gravestone, with the inscription added by his siblings: “ALSO OUR DEAR BROTHER ARTHUR S. POPE / KILLED IN ACTION IN FRANCE / OCTOBER 10TH 1918 / AGED 29 YEARS.”
Children from Lapworth Church of England Primary School visited his grave in 2014.
If you have any further information, please let us know.
Heritage & Local Studies Librarian
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