Private Ernest Vivian Freeman, Royal Army Medical Corps, aged 22, died at 10pm on 19th July 1919 whilst serving with the 3rd British General Hospital in Iraq. The telgram sent to his mother gave his cause of death as influenza, although entries in his service record first indicated the cause of death as cholera, before stating influenza (acute septicaemic type)
He was born in Olton and baptised at St Margaret’s Church on 20th June 1897.
Vivian, as he was known, was the youngest of 12 children born to parents George Thomas Freeman (known as Thomas) and Eliza (née Pritchard) who had married at St Alphege Church, Solihull in 1872 when Thomas, a labourer, was 22, and Eliza was 18.
They appear to have set up home in Ulverley Green but had apparently moved to Bickenhill by the time of the baptism of their second child, Edith Alice, in 1875, returning to Solihull by 1877.
The family lived in Olton from at least 1879, with Vivian’s father, Thomas, dying there in 1907 and his mother, Eliza, in 1928.
By the time he volunteered for the Army in November 1915, aged 19, Vivian had become a golf club maker and was living in Mayfield Villa, Wakeley Hill, Penn, Wolverhampton. He was initially posted to Sling Camp, Salisbury Plain, before being posted overseas in September 1916. He served in Basra from November 1916 until his death, with one month’s leave granted in May 1918.
Pte Ernest Vivian Freeman was admitted to hospital on 13th July 1919 with a history of sore throat, headache and dry throat. His temperature was 101.8 and he was given morphine and quinine. By 16th July he was reported to be worse, being delirious and having a temperature of 104.4. He died at 10pm on 19th July 1919 and was buried in Basra War Cemetery. He is commemorated locally on the war memorial at St Margaret’s Church, Olton.
His effects were sent to his mother at 2 Homer Villas, Ulverley Road, Olton, and included a book of views of Napels, a book on Hindustani, and a book of Kipling’s poems. His next-of-kin were listed as his mother, Eliza, with his three brothers – Thomas Walter (born 1879), Lawrence Albert (1889-1960), and Raymond Frank Victor (1891-1947) – and his five sisters – Eliza (1873-1940), Edith Alice (1875-1952), Bertha Esther (1877-1960), Violet Annie (1883-1965), and Daisie Olive (1895-1981).
Vivian’s brother, Laurence, seems to have named his son – Sydney Laurence Vivian Freeman (1915-1989) after his late brother.
If you have any further information on the family, please let us know.
Heritage & Local Studies Librarian
tel.: 0121 704 6977