V. J. Day in Solihull, 1945

V. J. Day, 15th August 1945, marked the day when the Second World War effectively came to an end as Japan surrendered and all hostilities ceased.

The Warwick County News, 18th August 1945, summarised local events with the headline “Neighbourly co-operation was the keynote of Solihull’s VJ-Day celebrations” and the observation that the day was marked by a “mood of quiet thanksgiving or in the exuberant relief of pent-up feelings according to age or nature.”

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6th January 1920

Captain Charles Murchison Bernays, formerly of the Royal Army Medical Corps, died on 6th January 1920 in the Royal Victoria Hospital, Dover, aged 39. His death was attributed to haemorrhage as a result of his having been badly gassed in 1917 whilst on active service. Prior to the outbreak of war, he had been practising as a doctor in Shirley but at the time of his death he was house surgeon at the hospital where he died.

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James Fern Webster – the “wizard of Warwickshire”

James Fern Webster was an engineer and prolific inventor who lived and worked in the High Street, Solihull Lodge in the 1870s/80s.

He developed a process for making the extraction of aluminium sufficiently cost effective for the metal to be used in the manufacture of everyday objects, patenting a process that enabled him to sell aluminium for £4 per pound instead of the £60 per pound that it had been previously. Prior to this, aluminium was considered a precious metal, and bars of aluminium were exhibited alongside the French Crown Jewels in the Paris Exhibition of 1855.

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5th December 1918

Private William Henry Cooper, 2nd Aircraft Depot, Royal Air Force died in France of influenza and bronchial pneumonia. He was born in Shirley on 1st November 1873 and, in 1881, was living in Bills Lane with parents William (a metal roller) and Louisa Amelia (née Harrison) ,who had married in Moseley in 1866. Harry, as he was known, was the third of the couple’s four children (two sons, two daughters).

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2nd November 1918

Sergeant William Henry Wedge, 2nd/6th Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment, was killed in action on 2nd November 1918. Born in Birmingham in 1898, he was the only son of parents, William Henry Wedge (a stamper in a cycle works) and Martha Higgins, who had married at St Martin’s Church, Birmingham on 31st January 1897.

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30th October 1918

Gunner Ernest Solomon Bradley, 59th Siege Battery, Royal Garrison Artillery, died of pneumonia at No. 22 Casualty Clearing Station on 30th October 1918, aged 39, He was born in Shirley in 1879 and was the fifth of the ten known children (two sons, eight daughters) of parents William (a wheelwright) and Mary (née Millett).  One of the children – Christabel Cecilia – died in 1884 at less than one year old. Another daughter, Florence Margaret, appears to have died in childbirth in 1904, aged 31.

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23rd October 1918

Five men with a local connection died on 23rd October 1918:

  • Lance Corporal Harry Matthew Bradburn, 20th Battalion Manchester Regiment
  • Private Oliver Cranmer, 2nd Battalion, Royal Sussex Regiment
  • Corporal Frederick Alfred Johnson, A Battery, 115th Brigade, Royal Field Artillery
  • Shoeing Smith Frank Selfe, Z Battery, 5th Brigade, Royal Horse Artillery
  • Private John Howard Whittle, 1st/8th Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment

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