Two local men lost their lives on 14th February 1919 as a result of their war service. Private Ernest William Ghent, 6th Reserve Company, Royal Veterinary Corps, died at home at Chadwick End, whilst Private Edgar Kibby, 3rd Field Bakery, Royal Army Service Corps, died of pneumonia at a Casualty Clearing Station in Cologne.
Ernest William Ghent was born in Birmingham on 13th June 1880 and baptised on 11th July 1880 at St Clement’s Church, Nechells. He was the eldest of the three children of parents, Charles (a painter) and Emma Jane (née Fisher) who had married in Birmingham in 1879.
By 1881 the couple had moved to Rowington, where Ernest’s younger siblings – Arthur Sidney and Elsie Elizabeth – were born in 1883 and 1889 respectively. Mother, Emma Jane, died in 1911 so was spared the knowledge of the death of her eldest son in the war.
Ernest followed his father’s career and became a painter and decorator. He married Kate Eliza Taylor in Rowington on 1st April 1907 and they had three children: Janet Irene (1908-1989), Phyllis Mary (1911-2006) and Douglas Charles (1917-1997). Douglas appears to have served with the Royal Artillery during the Second World War.
It seems that Ernest didn’t serve overseas as he was not entitled to any First World War campaign medals. According to the County of Warwickshire Roll of Honour 1914-2005 by Kenneth Fowler, Ernest spent the war stationed at Pitt Corner Camp, Winchester, where he collected and trained horses.
By the time of his death, Ernest’s wife and children were living at Chadwick End. He is buried at St Lawrence’s Church, Rowington. He is not included on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website, suggesting that his death was not officially due to his war service, although his name does appear on Rowington war memorial.
Ernest’s father, Charles, lived until the age of 91 and was the oldest male inhabitant in Rowington by the time of his 90th birthday in 1932. An article in the Warwick and Warwickshire Advertiser marking his long life noted that he was also the oldest member of the Prince Albert, Solihull Lodge of Oddfellows, which he had joined in 1862.
Edgar Kibby was born in Acocks Green in 1885. He was the second of three children born to parents William (a baker) and Emily (née Luke) who had married in Birmingham in 1882. William’s father, Charles, had also been a baker. Edgar’s elder sister, Agnes Emily, died in 1890, aged seven.
Edgar followed in the family tradition and was working as a baker and confectioner at the time of the 1911 census, living in Birmingham with his youger sister, 19-year-old Gladys, who was assisting him in the bakery. Their mother had died in 1909, and their widowed father, listed as a baker, was visiting relatives in Sutton Coldfield at the time of the 1911 census.
Edgar volunteered for war service, joining the Army on 6th November 1915 and serving in France from February 1916 with the 54th Field Bakery. He was promoted Corporal on 24th June 1918 and was awarded 14 days leave in September/October 1918.
Following the Armistice in November 1919, it seems that Edgar’s unit moved into Germany as part of the army of occupation.
He died at 1:50am on 14th February 1919 at 64 Casualty Clearing Station, which was situated in Cologne from December 1918. The cause of death was given as pneumonia due to active service conditions. He is buried at Cologne South Cemetery and is commemorated locally on war memorials at Hockley Heath. His father was living in Small Heath and his sister in Sparkbrook, so the connection of Edgar Kibby with Hockley Heath isn’t known.
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