4th October 1918

Private Matthew Willison, 17th Siege Battery, Royal Garrison Artillery died of wounds on 4th October 1918, aged 28. Born in Birmingham in 1890, he was the youngest of the three sons of parents James (a labourer) and Clarissa (née Breese) who had married at St Andrew’s Church, Bordesley  in 1882. It seems that James had previously been married to Clarissa’s sister, Jane Fawn Breese, who died in 1881, aged 29. James and Jane had one son, Arthur Ernest (born 1876).

Despite several attempts to change the legislation, marrying the sister of a deceased wife was prohibited under the Marriage Act 1835. It wasn’t until 1907, when the Deceased Wife’s Sister’s Act was passed by Parliament, that it became lawful. Similar legislation enabling widows to marry the brother of their deceased husband wasn’t passed until 1921.

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22nd July 1918

Lieutenant Gilbert Richard Barnard died of malaria on 22nd July 1918 whilst serving with the 1st Battalion, Cape Corps, South African Forces. Born in Tanworth on 10th October 1897, he was the third of the five children (four boys, one girl) of parents, Rev. Gilbert William Barnard and Beatrix Amy (née Staunton) who had married at Meriden in 1894.

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14th March 1917

Sergeant James Henry Carter, 31st Battalion Australian Infantry, died in France on 14th March 1917.  He was born in Yardley in 1895, and was the eldest of the six children (four sons, two daughters) of parents James (a gardener) and Mary Elizabeth (née Moore) who had married in Aston in 1894.

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20th August 1916

31-year-old Private Alfred Knibb was killed in action on 20th August 1916 serving with the 1st/9th Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment. He was born in 1885 in the parish of Tanworth-in-Arden and was the 9th child and youngest son of parents Edwin and Ellen (née Keen). The couple had married in 1867 in Knowle and went on to have 12 children, of whom 11 (five sons, six daughters) were still living by the time of the 1911 census.

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28th July 1916

Oxfordshire-born Rifleman George Savage was killed in action on 28th July 1916 serving with the King’s Royal Rifle Corps. Born in Hook Norton in 1895, George was the third of six children born to parents John Embra Savage and his wife, Jane (née Radbourn). The couple’s sixth child, Hilda Annie, was born towards the end of 1904, the same year that her mother died so it seems likely that Jane died in childbirth. Hilda died early in 1905.

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1st July 1916 – Solihull and Shirley

Seven men with a connection to Solihull or Shirley are known to have died on 1st July 1916:

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16th June 1916

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.

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