Sergeant Robert Lyford Radford died in Birmingham on 6th October 1920 and is buried at Robin Hood Cemetery, Solihull. He was born in Bridgwater, Somerset in 1890 and was the fourth of six children of parents Robert Job (a clay worker/potter) and Frances Eliza (née Lyford) who had married in Cheltenham in 1880. Tragically, two of the children – Frances Eliza (1885-1885) and Percy Norman (1894-1895) died as infants.
The children’s mother died in 1905, and their father appears to have remarried, as he is listed on the 1911 census with a wife, Celia, to whom he had been married for six years. All of Robert’s children had left home by 1911, apart from the youngest son, Stanley Charles (1893-1958) who was working as a tobacconist.
Robert Lyford Radford had moved from Bridgwater to Birmingham by 1911 and was living in Balsall Heath with a cousin. He was listed as twenty years old and was working as a draper’s assistant.
He volunteered for the Army on the outbreak of war, enlisting on 10th August 1914 and serving with the 1st/5th Battalion Somerset Light Infantry, although he doesn’t appear to have served overseas before 1916. In September 1918 he was treated for dysentery and was ill for 104 days.
He was discharged on 28th January 1919 as a result of disability, having the rank of sergeant at the time of discharge. He married Phyllis Mary Page on 28th January 1920 at Christ Church, Sparkbrook at which time the bride and groom were both aged 30 and working as drapers. They set up home in Balsall Heath and their only child, Robert Owen Radford (1921-2007) was born in January 1921, just over three months after his father’s death.
It seems that Robert Lyford Radford’s death was attributed to his war service as his name is included on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s Debt of Honour register. Apart from being buried in Solihull, he is not known to have had any other connection with the local area.
By 1939 his widow, Phyllis, was incapacitated and was living at the Public Assistance Institution (formerly the workhouse) in Warwick. She died at the Auxiliary Hospital, Warwick in 1941, although probate records list her usual address as Fox Hollies Road, Acocks Green.
The couple’s son, Robert Owen Radford, was working as a railway clerk in Sutton Coldfield in 1939. He married Beryl Holbrook Kirkham in 1947 in Warrington and they subsequently moved to Lytham, Lancashire.
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Heritage & Local Studies Librarian