Miss Dora Phillips, volunteer at Berkswell Rectory Auxiliary Hospital, died on 1st November 1918, aged 21. On the same day, Lance Corporal Thomas Charles Thompson, 2nd/8th Battalion, Worcestershire Regiment, was killed in action in France.
Dora Phillips was born in Berkswell in 1896 and was the younger of the two children of parents, Harry Philip Phillips (a bedstead, safe and fender manufacturer) and Hannah Caroline Alex Myer who married at Bayswater Synagogue in 1894.
By 1911, the family was living at Greenfield, Berkswell. Red Cross records indicate that Dora was a volunteer with the Red Cross from June 1915 until around the time of her death. She worked for six hours per week at the V.A.D. Hospital, carrying out duties such as making beds and cleaning wards.
Her brother, John Sydney Phillips (born 1895), attended King Edward VI School 1907-1912 served in the First World War as a Captain with the South Staffordshire Regiment, and was awarded the Military Cross in June 1918. He became an entomologist, having studied at the University of Oxford before obtaining a Doctorate from the University of Hawaii in 1933. He was employed on a coconut plantation in the Solomon Islands before returning to England by 1939.
Their father, Harry, also did his bit for the war effort, becoming a member of the Arden Volunteer Rifle Corps, which was founded in Berkswell in late 1914.
Thomas Charles Thompson was born in 1890 in Solihull and baptised at St Alphege Church, Solihull on 1st March 1891. He was the second of the four children of parents William (a carpenter and builder) and Helen Jane (daughter of Enos Smith, brickmaker of Solihull) who had married in Hatton in 1885.
By the time of the 1891 census, the family was living in Drury Lane, Solihull, moving to nearby Mill Lane by 1901. Helen died in 1905, aged 37, and is buried in St Alphege churchyard. Her widowed husband remarried in 1906 and, by 1911, was living with his second wife, Frances Eleanor (née Goode) in Warwick Road, Solihull, with three of the children from his first marriage – Thomas (a carpenter, aged 20), Dorothy (aged 17) and Frank (aged 14). The eldest daughter, Alice (born 1886) was living in Station Road, Knowle with her husband, William John Millward.
We don’t know when Thomas enlisted in the Army but he didn’t see any overseas service before 1916. He was killed in action and is buried at Cross Roads Cemetery, Fontaine-au-Bois, France. His also commemorated locally on Solihull war memorial.
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