29th December 1915

The last of the known casualties from places now within the Solihull Borough to die in 1915 died on 29th December 1915.

Eric Arthur Walker, who enlisted as a Private with the Warwickshire Yeomanry before being commissioned on 26th February 1915 as Second Lieutenant 9th Battalion (attached 6th Battalion) King’s Shropshire Light Infantry. He first entered a Theatre of War on 16th October 1915, just over two months before he died on 29th December, aged 20.

Corporal Archibald Haye Neill, 1st Garrison Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment, died in Sudan and is buried in Khartoum Military Cemetery. His name was added to the Hampton-in-Arden War Memorial in 2015, 100 years after his death.

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24th December 1915

Captain George Pottinger Cox was killed in action on Christmas Eve 1915, aged 22, serving with the 1st Battalion, Essex Regiment. His surname, Cox, was actually the name of his step-father, by which he seems to have been known after the remarriage of his widowed mother when he was aged one. His birth surname was Innocent.

He was born on 15th January 1893 in Tientsin [Tianjin], China where his father and grandfather had both been Methodist missionaries.  His parents, Rev. George Morrison Hallam Innocent and Florence Elizabeth Pottinger had married in England in February 1892 whilst Rev. Innocent was on furlough from his missionary post, having attended the Methodist Conference 1891 in Leeds. In April 1892, the newlyweds set sail from London aboard the S.S. Glengyle. However, midway on the journey, Rev. Innocent was taken ill with haemorrhagic purpura and died on 30th May 1892, about 138 miles from Hong Kong. The ship put into port there next day and Rev. Innocent was buried in Happy Valley Cemetery, aged 32.

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15th December 1915

Two local non-commissoned officers (NCOs) were killed in action on 15th December 1915:

  • Corporal Percy Taylor Broomfield of Marston Green, serving with 15th Battalion (2nd Birmingham), Royal Warwickshire Regiment
  • Corporal Charles Henry Stone of Castle Bromwich

Neither man was born in these parishes – both had moved from their birthplace and settled in the area.

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10th December 1915

We don’t have much information on Henry George Perkins who was killed in action in Gallipoli on 10th December 1915 whilst serving as a Private with the 7th Battalion, South Staffordshire Regiment. He is buried at Azmak Cemetery, Suvla Bay, Turkey and is also commemorated on the Solihull war memorial. Soldiers Died in the Great War says he was born in Birmingham and lived in Solihull at the time he enlisted.

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9th December 1915

Thomas Freeman of Hockley Heath died of wounds on 9th December 1915 whilst serving as a Private with the Oxford and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry. He is buried in France at Sailly-sur-la-Lys Canadian Cemetery and also commemorated locally on Hockley Heath village war memorial, and on memorials at St Thomas’s Church, Hockley Heath, and Umberslade Baptist Church.

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7th December 1915

William Hands Perkins was born in 1892 in Weston-sub-Edge, Gloucestershire, and was baptised there on 27th November 1892, the sixth child of George Frederick Perkins (a labourer) and his wife, Rose (née Court). William was killed in action at the age of 23 on 7th December 1915 serving as a Private in the 6th Battalion Oxford and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry.

At first sight, it’s not clear why he’s commemorated locally at Hockley Heath and UmbersladeSoldiers Died in the Great War gives his birthplace and residence as Weston-sub-Edge, although he enlisted in Birmingham. His parents appear to have remained in Weston all their lives, as did his youngest brother, Allen Nelson Perkins, whose burial, aged 71,  is recorded in the parish registers there in 1971. William himself is recorded on the 1901 census in Weston but isn’t there with his parents in 1911 and we haven’t been able to track him down elsewhere.

However, researching William’s siblings sheds some light on the local connection. Although in Gloucestershire, Weston-sub-Edge is only about 26 miles from Hockley Heath and, as is often the case with migration, it looks as if one family member moved first, to be then followed by others.

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2nd December 1915

There is a discrepancy in records as regards the age of Squadron Sergeant Major William Bloomer, who died on 2nd December 1915 whilst serving with the 3rd Regiment, Canadian Mounted Rifles. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission lists his age at death as 42, suggesting a birth year of 1873. However, an announcement in the newspaper gives his age as 40, which fits with census returns, and gives a suggested birth year of 1875:

Information has been received in Birmingham that Squadron-sergeant-major William Bloomer, of the 3rd Canadian Mounted Royal Rifles, has been killed in action in France. He was the second son of Mr and Mrs Giles T. Bloomer, of Dorridge, and was forty years of age.
Birmingham Daily Mail, 11th December 1915
However, Canadian records give his date of birth as 11th December 1879. All records agree that he was born in Halesowen, and that his father was Giles Thomas Bloomer.

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1st December 1915

22-year-old Private Alfred Powers died at Mudros, a small port and deep-water harbour on the Mediterranean island of Lemnos, Greece, which was being used by the British as a marshalling point for operations in Gallipoli. He was serving with the 7th Battalion, South Staffordshire Regiment and was a nursery gardener before enlisting. We don’t know when he joined the Army, but he first entered a Theatre of War on 11th September 1915, less than three months before he died.

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