Jake Jacob: “nothing was easy”

Born in Trinidad in 1925, Prince Albert Jacob left his homeland at the age of 17½ to serve with the Royal Air Force in the Second World War. Returning to Britain after being demobbed, he worked hard and overcame enormous difficulties, including discrimination and racial abuse, to have a successful career with the Post Office and represent Great Britain in athletics. After living in various Midlands towns since 1948, he and his wife settled in Knowle where they have lived for almost 50 years.

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Military funeral of Lieut G. G. Cates

Lieutenant Gerald George Cates of the headquarters company of Solihull Home Guard (5th Warwickshire), died in Shaftesbury Military Hospital on 20th April 1942 after suffering an abdominal injury during a battle exercise at Imberdown, near Warminster, on Salisbury Plain. He was 44 years old and was one of some 25 officers and men who died as a result of the Imber “friendly fire” incident on 13th April 1942 when a Hawker Hurricane fighter plane (similar to those pictured above) taking part in a demonstration accidentally opened fire on a crowd of spectators.

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Totehill, Blossomfield Road, Solihull

On 15th November 1940, a new Red Cross Auxiliary Hospital opened at Totehill, Blossomfield Road, Solihull. The house was built during 1901/2 and was originally the home of Stephen William Challen (1842-1937) of the Birmingham engineering firm, Taylor and Challen. It became a Red Cross convalescent home during the Second World War and was subsequently known as Red Cross House.

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Solihull War Memorial

The unveiling and dedication of Solihull War Memorial in The Square, Solihull, took place on the afternoon of Sunday 19th June 1921 in a ceremony arranged by Brigadier-General Walter Robert Ludlow (1857-1941) whose youngest son had been killed at the Battle of Beaumont Hamel in 1916. This was not the first memorial to the fallen that Solihull parish had erected – a Calvary shrine had been unveiled at Easter 1917.

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Paul Oppenheimer MBE (1928-2007)

Paul Oppenheimer was born in Berlin on 20th September 1928 and died on 8th March 2007 after living in the Solihull borough for more than 40 years.

His parents were Jewish but not very religious and, in his autobiography, From Belsen to Buckingham Palace, Paul notes that his middle-class family was quite assimilated, as were most German Jews at the time, considering themselves proud Germans.

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Evacuees’ School, Herbert Road, Solihull

Shortly after the devastating blitz of Coventry on 14th/15th November 1940, Miss Caroline (“Carrie”) Amelia Morgan (1889-1963), Headmistress of Moseley Avenue School, Coventry, together with a small group of teachers, brought a party of 160 children aged 2-14 to Solihull. The children were billeted in foster homes and, a few weeks after their arrival, schooling began to be provided.

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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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