V. J. Day in Solihull, 1945

V. J. Day, 15th August 1945, marked the day when the Second World War effectively came to an end as Japan surrendered and all hostilities ceased.

The Warwick County News, 18th August 1945, summarised local events with the headline “Neighbourly co-operation was the keynote of Solihull’s VJ-Day celebrations” and the observation that the day was marked by a “mood of quiet thanksgiving or in the exuberant relief of pent-up feelings according to age or nature.”

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Coronation Day 1937

Wednesday 12th May 1937 saw the coronation at Westminster Abbey in London of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth. The date had been chosen for the coronation of King Edward VIII who had become king on the death of his father George V in January 1936. Although, Edward VIII’s abdication in December resulted in a new king and queen on the throne, the coronation date of 12th May was retained.

In Solihull, the event was marked by a three-day carnival, which ran into the Whitsuntide weekend, and many of the villages now in the borough held their own celebrations.

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4th May 1920

John Hawkes, formerly a Private with 73rd Battalion, B. Company, no. 5 platoon, Canadian Royal Highlanders, died at 370 Beach Street, Saco, Maine, USA on 4th May 1920, aged 41 years and 20 days. His cause of death was listed as Bright’s Disease (an inflammation of the kidneys), with “life in trenches” given as a contributory factor.

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15th March 1920

Private Leslie Jones, 1st South Midland Field Ambulance, Royal Army Medical Corps, died on 15th March 1920 and is buried at Olton Franciscan Cemetery, Solihull. He was born in Birmingham in 1889 and baptised at St Asaph’s Church on 7th July 1889. His parents were Thomas Henry Jones, a carpenter, and Harriet Elizabeth (née Evans), a tailoress who had married at St Peter & St Paul’s Church, Aston in 1886.

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29th December 1919

Francis George Harris, formerly a Gunner with the Royal Garrison Artillery, died at Birmingham General Hospital on 29th December 1919. He had been discharged from the Army in March 1919 so does not appear as a war casualty on official records, although he is commemorated locally in the Soldiers’ Chapel, Knowle. He is also listed on the Roll of Honour for Packwood amongst those who served.

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19th July 1919

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.

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3rd March 1919

Second Lieutenant William Narey Boocock, Royal Warwickshire Regiment, died of influenza and pneumonia at 77 Pembroke Road, Bristol on 3rd March 1919, aged 26. The family home was at Ben Ryhdding, Warwick Road, Acocks Green and, as a Roman Catholic, he was buried at Olton Franciscan Friary, Solihull.

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1st February 1919

On 1st February 1919, Captain and Quartermaster Nicholas Charles Harvey MBE, aged 53, took his own life at the Red Lion Hotel, Atherstone. He had been a regular soldier for about 23 years and served with the 19th Hussars in Egypt and India and with the 12th Lancers in the Boer War.  At the time of the 1901 census he was stationed in Ireland.

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23rd December 1918

Private Horace Alfred Hawkes, 5th Battalion, Worcestershire Regiment, died at Heathcote Infectious Diseases Hospital, Leamington Spa on 23rd December 1918. He was born in Leek Wootton on 15th May 1895 and was the seventh of the eight children (three sons, five daughters) of parents, Thomas and Emily (née Biddle), who had married in Cubbington in 1875.

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