Former Private Stephen Henry Kettle, aged 44, died on 26th January 1922 at St George’s Hospital, Doncaster, where he was receiving treatment for injuries received on active service in France. He is buried at St James’s Churchyard, Shirley, Solihull.
Stephen Henry Kettle was born in Cheshire in 1877 and baptised at Aston-by-Sutton on 17th June 1877. He was the youngest of the eight children of parents George Kettle (a gamekeeper) and Jane (née Burch) who had married in the bride’s parish of Penkridge, Staffordshire in 1855.
The couple initially set up home in Nuneaton but had moved to Berkswell by 1858 and seem to have stayed there until around 1862. By 1863 they had moved to Meriden where they lived until at least 1867.
By the time of the 1881 census, three-year-old Stephen was living in Barston with his parents, George and Jane, and two of his older siblings – 15-year-old John, and 20-year-old Annie Maria.
The 1891 census records 13-year-old Stephen living at Abel Farm, Widney Lane, Shirley with his unmarried sister, Fanny (aged 24) and their widowed father, George, who was listed as a farmer. Stephen married Ada Johnson in Solihull in 1898, and they had seven children before Ada’s death in 1912:
- Gladys May Kettle (1899-1973 )
- Herbert Leslie Kettle (1900-1959)
- Ernest Percy Kettle (1902-1980)
- Henry Hector Kettle (1903-1963)
- Joseph Cecil Kettle (1904-1952)
- George Kettle (born and died 1906)
- Marie Kettle (born and died 1908)
The family was living at Monkspath at the time of the 1911 census, with Stephen working as a domestic gardener. After his wife’s death in 1912, he remarried at Solihull Register Office on 2nd June 1914, and went on to have three more children with his second wife, Edith May Burbidge (née Jennings), who was a widow with two young sons. Their children were:
- Victor Harry Kettle (1914-1983)
- Barbara Kettle (born 1917)
- Geoffrey Kettle (1921-2004)
On 6th December 1915, presumably under Lord Derby’s Scheme (officially called the Group Scheme), Stephen Kettle attested for the Royal Warwickshire Regiment and was posted to the reserves. He gave his address as 132 Marshall Lake Road, Shirley, and his occupation as a gardener.
He was mobilised on 13th June 1916 and posted to France in November 1916 to serve with the 11th battalion. In March 1918 he was admitted to hospital with diarrhoea before being sent to England the following month with suspected dysentery. He was discharged from the Army in March 1919 but clearly still suffered with poor health. His military papers note that he had dysentry, nephitis, and colitis, all of which were marked as attributable to war service.
He is buried at St James’s Church, Shirley but, having been discharged from the Army more than two years before his death in 1922, he did not qualify for a military pattern headstone provided by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. However, he does have a military pattern gravestone which was paid for by the parish.
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Library Specialist: Heritage & Local Studies