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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24th October 1915

Private Thomas Henry Parkes, from Solihull and Hockley Heath, died of wounds on 24th October 1915 at Gallipoli, serving with the 8th Battalion, Duke of Wellington’s (West Riding Regiment). He was the youngest of the seven surviving children (out of 12 born) of parents William Parkes, a bricklayer, and his wife Rhoda (née Hayes) who had married at St Alphege Church, Solihull on 27th July 1874.

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26th September 1915

19-year-old Lance Sergeant Alfred Arculus of Earlswood was killed in action on 26th September 1915 whilst serving with the 2nd Battalion, Worcestershire Regiment. A pre-war regular soldier, he enlisted on 6th March 1914, aged 18 years and 171 days, giving his occupation as a farm labourer. He was promoted Lance Corporal on 28th July 1914 and was mobilised 0n 5th August 1914, spending time at Millbrook training camp in Plymouth from 9th August until 17th December 1914. During this time he was promoted Corporal on 5th October. On 18th December, he was moved to Fort Tregantle in south-east Cornwall, which was used for musketry training, and embarked for France on 27th December 1914.

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25th June 1915

George Frederick Bevins was born in Sparkhill, Birmingham on 11th June 1896. His father, Henry Sharpe Bevins (1863-1920), was a builder and contractor, born in Birmingham. His mother, Emily (née Payne) was born in Monkspath (according to the 1891 census) or Hockley Heath (according to the 1901 census). The couple had married in 1888 and went on to have nine children, of whom one had died by 1911, and three sons died in the war.

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6th October 1914

Private Joseph Lenten Austin, a regular soldier who had served through the Boer War 1899-1902, died on 6th October 1914 whilst serving with the 3rd Battalion, Worcestershire Regiment. He was born in Stratford-upon-Avon and lived in Tanworth-in-Arden.

He appears on the 1881 census, aged four, living with his parents, Joseph and Ursula, at the Cross Keys public house, Ely Street, Stratford, although his middle name appears to have been written down as Denton, rather than Lenton (or Lenten). His father, Joseph, is listed as the inn keeper. By 1891, the family had moved to Haselor, with Joseph (senior) now working as a gamekeeper, and 14-year-old-Joseph (junior) listed as gamekeeper’s assistant.

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