19-year-old Private Hubert Simpson was killed in action on 10th August 1917, serving with the 11th Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment. He was born in Birmingham in 1898, and was the youngest of the two children born to parents Joseph (a machinist) and Emily (née Davis) who had married at St Paul’s Church, Birmingham in October 1886. Their eldest child, Clarisse, was born in 1895.
Former Marston Green Cottage Homes residents, Samuel Richardson and Frederick Stevenson both died in France on Easter Monday, 9th April 1917, serving as Privates in the Armed Forces. Private Richardson was with the 78th Battalion Canadian Infantry, whilst Private Stevenson was serving with the 2/7th Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment. Both men are commemorated on the Marston Green Cottage Homes war memorial.
Private Ernest Lockley, 1st Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment was killed in action on 12th October 1916. Born in Birmingham in 1892, he was the third of the five children (three sons, two daughters) of parents Thomas (a brass caster) and Sarah Ann.
The local connection is that it seems Ernest was an inmate of Marston Green Cottage Homes, probably sometime between 1901 and 1909. His two younger sisters – Alice May (born 1895) and Nellie (born 1899) were both listed as inmates there on the 1911 census. By this time, Ernest would have been 18 years old and, therefore, too old to be resident in a children’s home. It wasn’t until 1918 that the school leaving age was raised from 12 to 14 although, typically, Poor Law Institutions would apprentice out children from the age of 14.
Four local men are known to have died on 15th September 1916 as a result of their war service: Private Edmund Dixon, Coldstream Guards, was killed in action and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial, as are Rifleman Arthur McKenzie, King’s Royal Rifle Corps and Captain Eric King Parsons, Rifle Brigade. Lieutenant Euan Louis Mylne MC, 2nd Battalion Irish Guards also died of wounds on the same day.
Private Thomas Davis, 10th Battalion Canadian Infantry, died on 11th September 1916 serving in France. He was born in Birmingham c. 1890. By 1901, it appears that his father had died and he was living in a three-roomed back-to-back house (1 Court 4, Pickford Street) with his widowed mother, Ann, and three siblings, aged 8-15. Ann was working as a charwoman, and also had three boarders living in the house with her and her children.
36-year-old Private Thomas Walter Haynes, 4th Battalion King’s (Liverpool) Regiment, and 22-year-old Corporal Horace Timmins, 15th Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment (1st Birmingham Pals) both died on 29th August 1916.
Both men were born in Birmingham, although Thomas Haynes was living in Knowle before joining the Army. Horace Timmins’ local connection is that he spent time living at Marston Green Cottage Homes where his mother, Emma, was a foster mother.
19-year-old Christopher Henry Cranmer died of wounds in Salonika on 19th August 1916 whilst serving as a Corporal with the 7th Battalion Oxford & Bucks Light Infantry. On the same day, Lance Corporal Arthur Busby died of wounds in France whilst serving with the 1st/5th Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment.
Three local men lost their lives on 16th June 1916:
- Corporal Henry Elliott, Royal Warwickshire Regiment
- Bombardier Edward Henry Prince, Royal Field Artillery
- Sergeant Leonard Wilson, Royal Field Artillery
Henry Elliott is buried at the Fauborg d’Amiens Cemetery in Arras, France. Edward Prince and Leonard Wilson are both buried at Hebuterne Military Cemetery in the Pas de Calais, about 20 km south-west of Arras.
Two local men lost their lives on 1st June 1916. Private Harold Hackett, aged 25, serving with the 2nd Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment, and Stoker 1st Class Charles Simmons, aged 21, serving aboard H.M.S. Tipperary.
Private Horace Yorke, a former resident of Marston Green Cottage Homes, died on 1st May 1916, serving with the 13th Battalion, Middlesex Regiment. He was born in London and was living at the Cottage Homes in 1911, when he was aged 16. We haven’t been able to discover how he came to move from London, or why he ended up in the Cottage Homes (these were built to house children who would otherwise have gone into the workhouse).
It looks as if he originally joined the Royal Navy in December 1914 for the “period of hostilities”. However, he was discharged to sick quarters in April 1915 suffering from “Diptheria Neura[s]thenia” and invalided out of the Navy.