Captain Wilfred Eric Wright, 5th Battalion, South Staffordshire Regiment, died in hospital in Scarborough as a result of contracting pneumonia following influenza. He was born in Solihull in 1894 and the family was living in Lode Lane by 1897 before moving to Acocks Green by 1911.
He was the tenth of the 11 children of parents Frank (a button manufacturer) and Alice (née Whitehouse) who had married in Bimingham in 1882. His twin brother, Geoffrey, died in 1897 aged three years old.
Eric, as he seems to have been known, was educated at Solihull Grammar School before adopting engineering as his profession and joining Messrs Tangye. On the outbreak of war he joined the Army with four of his brothers, all of whom were also Old Silhillians. Two of the brothers – John Stanley (born 1886 and served as a Gunner with the Royal Field Artillery) and Leonard (born in 1889 and served as a Private with the 2nd City Battalion) – returned from Canada in order to serve in English regiments. The two other brothers in the Army were Harold (born 1893, a Private in the 2nd City Battalion) and Frederick Maurice, known as Maurice (born 1897 and a Trooper with the Warwickshire Yeomanry).
Eric went to France in 1915 and was severely wounded in the head, arm and leg on 13th October 1915 during the fight for the Hohenzollern Redoubt. Although the wounds to his head and arm healed quickly, the wound to his left leg did not, and he was left with a weakness where a bullet had passed through his calf. Unable to march for long, he was deemed unfit for general service but was passed fit for service behind the lines. He was promoted Captain on 1st June 1917 and returned to France as a railway transport officer. In August 1917, he married Marjorie, younger daughter of Mr C. A. Hyde, “Westleigh”, Acocks Green.
During the early morning of 11th August 1918, he suffered an accident whilst on duty at Heilly Station near Amiens supervising the loading of mules onto a train. He was invalided back to England and, on recovery, was attached to the military depot at Scarborough. He fell ill with influenza a week before his death.
He was buried at St Mary’s church, Acocks Green, and is commemorated locally on war memorials at Solihull School and Olton Cricket Club.
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Heritage & Local Studies Librarian
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