5th April 1916

Private George William Kippen was killed in action in Mesopotamia (modern Iraq) on 5th April 1916, serving with the 9th Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment. He was the eldest of five children born to parents George (born 1861), a gun screwer, and Jane (née Farrington) and he seems to have had rather a difficult life before enlisting in the Army in March 1914. Two of his three brothers are also known to have served in the Armed Forces.

Private Arthur Watton, also with the 9th Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment, died of wounds on the same day in the same place. The Battalion was mobilised for war in June 1915 and sent to Gallipoli. Owing to severe losses from combat, disease and harsh weather, the Division was evacuated to Mudros and then Egypt in January 1916. On 16th February 1916 the Battalion embarked for Basra from Suez to defend British interests against Turk forces, arriving on 28th February 1916.

Both men are commemorated on the Basra Memorial.

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10th October 1915

19-year-old John Alfred Cross was one of four brothers who had been inmates in Marston Green Cottage Homes and went on to serve in the First World War. He joined the Rifle Brigade on 2nd September 1914, being posted to France on 22nd August 1915 after spending two weeks in a military hospital in Purfleet with an abscess on his tongue. He received a gunshot wound to the chest on 5th October 1915, dying of wounds at the Australian Hospital, Wimereux, France on 11th October 1915 according to his service record. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission and the Register of Soldiers’ Effects both give his date of death as the 10th October. His brother Harry was also killed in the war, whilst brothers Francis James and Thomas William were apparently war casualties but survived.

John and Harry are both commemorated locally on a war memorial plaque that was hung outside the chapel on the site, which later became Chelmsley Hospital.

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19th May 1915

Two local men died on 19th May 1915.  Herbert Samuel Wakelin died at home in Olton on 19th May 1915 and is buried at Yardley Cemetery in Birmingham.

Charles Samuel George, who had spent almost all his childhood as an inmate at Marston Green Cottage Homes, died of wounds in France, whilst serving as a Private with the 1st Battalion, South Staffordshire Regiment. He was the brother of Harry George, who had died of wounds on 31st October 1914.

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20th March 1915

William Asbury was born in Birmingham in 1889 to parents, William (an iron caster) and Emma. He was baptised on 7th July 1889 at St Stephen’s Church, Birmingham. His older sister, Alethea, and younger brother, Thomas, were also baptised there in 1887 and 1894 respectively.

It looks as if their father, William (senior) died in 1894 at the age of 34 and their mother seems to have died, aged 36, at the end of 1897. However, she is still listed as next-of-kin with an address of 51 Princip Street, Birmingham when the three children were all admitted to Marston Green Cottage Homes on 5th January 1898. They seem to have remained there throughout the rest of their childhoods. The Homes had opened in January 1880 to accommodate children who would otherwise have gone into Birmingham Workhouse (now the site of Dudley Road Hospital).

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7th December 1914

Private Arthur Stenson died of wounds at the 19th Field Ambulance, serving with the 2nd Battalion Royal Welsh Fusiliers. The Commonwealth War Graves website gives his date of death as 9th December, although Soldiers Died in the Great War and Register of Soldiers’ Effects both record him as dying on 7th December.

Born in Birmingham in 1887, Arthur was living in Marston Green Cottage Homes by the 1891 census when he was three years old. He was still there ten years later, aged 14, and working as a bricklayer’s labourer’s boy. Cottage Homes were established in the 19th century to house children who would otherwise have gone into the workhouse. The intention was to keep children away from the adult inmates who could be bad influences. Many Cottage Homes educated the children, sometimes even better than they would have been outside the Homes, and taught them a trade so that they would be able to earn a living once they left.

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Help us identify Borough casualties

So far, we have over 800 names on our list of those from places now in the Solihull Borough, or from the Solihull Rural District, who died as a result of their war service. However, we are struggling to identify in official records some of the people named on local memorials. This can be because there are too many people of the same name, or because we don’t have full names or service details, or because we have found possible individuals but can’t be sure of any local connection.

If you can help with information on any of the following, especially exact dates of death, please let us know:

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31st October 1914

Four local men from three different regiments died on 31st October 1914:

  • Private Alfred Allcock, 2nd Dragoon Guards (Queen’s Bays), of Shirley
  • Private Charles William Assinder (1889-1914), Royal Warwickshire Regiment, commemorated at Olton
  • Private Cyril Frederick Collett (1894-1914), Worcestershire Regiment, commemorated at Solihull
  • Drummer Harry William George (1890-1914), Worcestershire Regiment, commemorated at Marston Green Cottage Homes

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