Private John Joseph Moreton, aged 33, died at 4pm on 26th November 1918 at Uffculme Auxiliary Hospital, Moor Green, Birmingham. He was serving with the 2nd Battalion, Royal Welsh Fusiliers. The cause of death was listed as (1) acute congestion of lungs probably of streptococal or mixed infection and (2) heart failure.
John Joseph Moreton was born in Meriden in 1885, and baptised at Meriden parish church on 13th September 1885. He was the sixth of the seven children (five sons, two daughters) of parents Henry (a miller) and Eliza (née Parker) who had married at Caldecote, Warwickshire in 1872.
The couple initially set up home in Caldecote where eldest son, Henry Edward (known as Harry), was born in 1873/74. They then moved to Leicester where their two daughters were born – Mary Louisa in 1876 and Eliza Jane in 1879. By 1881 the family had moved to Newnham Mill, Newnham Regis, moving to Meriden sometime between 1883-1885.
They then moved to Henwood Mill, Catherine-de-Barnes sometime between 1891-1901. By 1901, eldest son, 27-year-old Harry, was working as a bricklayer’s labourer, with brothers Ernest William (aged 20) and Charles Walter (aged 17) working with their father as a waggoner and miller respectively. 15-year-old John Joseph was recorded as a carpenter.
By the time he volunteered for the Army in November 1915, aged 30, John was working as a labourer. He was posted to Egypt in 1916 and then to France. He received a gun shot wound to the thigh in May 1917 and was invalided back to England where his leg was amputated whilst he was at Hampstead General Hospital during August-November 1917. He was granted a week’s furlough 10th-17th November 1917, and was again admitted to hospital in January 1918, being sent home in March 1918, pending admission to Roehampton, which was an amputee rehabilitation centre.
His service record mentions a son, John Henry Wood (1919-1971), who was born out of wedlock four months after his father died. John seems to have been brought up with his father’s relatives and in 1939 was living with his uncle, Charles Walter Moreton (1883-1942). Charles also served in the war, as a Private with the Worcestershire Regiment. He enlisted in December 1915 and was posted to the Reserves before being mobilised in March 1916.
Private John Joseph Moreton was buried in St James’s Churchyard, Shirley on 2nd December 1918. He is also commemorated on Shirley war memorial. His medals – the British War Medal and the Victory medal – were sold at auction in 2015.
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Why were so many people’s death listed as at ‘Meriden’ during the Spanish Flu pandemic, in 1918 in my own grandmother’s case?
Presumably, the death was registered in Meriden Registration District, so the deaths may not have been in the village itself. The Meriden registration district covered a large area – see the list of places here:
I’ve checked with Doreen Agutter, the local historian for Meriden, and she says that it’s most likely that, if the deaths did take place within the Meriden Rural District (the administrative centre of which was Coleshill) then the old Meriden Workhouse was the most likely place. It was effectively the only hospital in the area and apparently had a separate building for more serious infections. There’s information on the workhouse at http://www.workhouses.org.uk/Meriden/ It was known as the Firs by the time it closed c.1965.
Doreen says you are welcome to contact her via her website – https://www.aguttersquick.com/ – if there’s any further information you want about Meriden.
I hope this helps.