Two local men lost their lives on 25th October 1918 whilst on active service – Private Francis Richard Corbett, 1st Battalion, Duke of Edinburgh’s (Wiltshire) Regiment and Captain Bertram Walter Mockley Pearson, Army Service Corps.
Francis Richard Corbett was born in Elmdon on 20th March 1899 and was the seventh of the nine children (six sons, one daughter) of parents Francis (an agricultural labourer) and Mary Anne (née King).
The couple initially set up home in Welford-on-Avon, Warwickshire c. 1887 before moving to Shirley by 1889 and Elmdon by 1896. Francis is known to have attended Elmdon School. The family moved to Yardley sometime between 1905-1911 and lived at 189 Church Road from at least 1918 until at least 1964 when one of the younger children, Alfred Christopher (1902-1964) died.
Francis must have been called up for active service around the time of his 18th birthday in 1917. He seems to have been captured by the enemy on 11th April 1918 and, according to the Register of Soldiers’ Effects, died in Germany as a Prisoner of War. He is buried at Belgrade Cemetery, Namur, Belgium.
Having left his birthplace of Elmdon as a child, he is not listed on the local war memorial, although his name is included on the war memorial at St Edburgha’s Church, Yardley.
One of his brothers, George Henry (born 1892) is known to have served as a Private with the 8th Battalion, Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry.
Bertram Walter Mockley Pearson was born in Knowle in 1887 and was the fifth of the six children of parents Edwin Maidstone Pearson (a coal merchant) and Sarah Hannah George, who had married in Packwood in 1871. Sarah was the step-daughter of Wilson Carter, for whom Edwin worked. Edwin Maitland Pearson later became the chairman and sole proprietor of Wilson Carter & Pearson Ltd, coke contractors of New Street, Birmingham.
Edwin and Sarah Pearson initially lived at Norton Grange, Norton Green Lane, Knowle before moving to Edstone Hall, Wootton Wawen around 1894, where they lived until their deaths almost exactly a year apart on 14th March 1907 and 16th March 1908.
Three of the couple’s children died as infants – the first-born child, Wilson Edwin Maidstone died in November 1872, aged four months; second child, Edwin, was born on 10th July 1875 and died on 29th September 1875; the fourth child, George Robert, was born on 29th April 1885 and died the following day.
Bertram’s only surviving brother, Randolph Carter Pearson (1884-1951) had a house built at Wolverton Grange, Stratford-upon-Avon and moved there with his bride in 1907. He took over the family firm and, in 1915, was commissioned with the Remount Department in Ormskirk.
It seems that Bertram volunteered for war service, as he was gazetted temporary Second Lieutenant with effect from 27th September 1914. It’s believed that he died from pneumonia at no. 47 Casualty Clearing Station.
Captain Bertram Walter Mockley Pearson is buried at Vadencourt British Cemetery, Maissemy. Probate records give his address as Little Hall, Willesborough, near Ashford, Kent and, with family members having moved away from the local area, he is not commemorated locally in Knowle.
If you have any further information on either of these men, please let us know.
Heritage & Local Studies Librarian
tel.: 0121 704 6977