Three men with a local connection died on 7th November 1918 whilst on active service – Private Edward Allen, Reinforcement Depot, Tank Corps; Private George Terheege, Labour Corps; and Second Lieutenant John Shilvock Wright, 219th Siege Battery, Royal Garrison Artillery.
27-year-old Private Thomas Bellamy, 5th Battalion, Duke of Wellington’s (West Riding Regiment) died on 5th November 1918. Born in Lapworth in 1891, he was the youngest of the three sons of parents, George (a general labourer on the Umberslade Hall estate) and Mary Ann (née Jesson) who had married at Smethwick in 1885. His eldest brother, George, had died on 14th April 1918 and is buried at Umberslade Baptist Church.
Captain Joseph Oscar Muntz, aged 42, died of wounds on 4th September 1918 whilst serving with B Company, 16th Battalion, Devonshire Regiment. Born in Tanworth-in-Arden in 1876, Oscar, as he was known, was the youngest child of George Frederick Muntz (1822-1898) of Umberslade Hall and his second wife Sara Matilda (née Kell) who had married at Edgbaston in February 1866. The couple had six children following the death of his first wife Marianne Lydia (née Richardson) in 1864. There were also eight children from the first marriage.
Nine local men lost their lives on the first day of the German Spring Offensive (Operation Michael), which saw British troops subjected to one of the longest artillery bombardments of the war. Lasting for five hours from 4:20am, the barrage of over one million artillery shells smashed vital communication lines, and was followed by waves of elite German troops coming over No Man’s Land, which was shrouded in thick fog. The Germans made swift and significant gains, with the British suffering some 50,000 casualties. British troops were ordered to withdraw, giving up much of the Somme region. However, it was not a decisive defeat, and the British were able to establish new lines of defence, whilst the rapid advance caused German supply lines to become overextended. Continue reading “21st March 1918”
Two local men died on 16th February 1917: Private Percy William Elliott, 1st Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment and Private Frederick William Mander, 1st/6th Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment.
Private Victor George Houghton, Royal Warwickshire Regiment, was killed in action on 14th July 1916, serving with the 1st/7th Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment. He was born in Hockley Heath in 1897, and was the third of the four children (three sons, one daughter) of John (a shoemaker) and Ruth Elizabeth (née Waters) who had married in 1892.
Private Philip Salt, 8th Battalion, Yorkshire Regiment, was killed in action on 10th July 1916. Born in Handsworth in 1890, he was the only child of parents John (a coachman, born in Upton Warren, Worcestershire) and Eliza Jane (born in Dunley, Worcestershire), who had married in 1889.
By 1901, the family had moved to Bentley Heath, moving to Copt Heath by 1911. Philip became a gardener, and was living at Umberslade in 1911. His service record appears not to have survived but his medal index card indicates that he entered a Theatre of War (France) on 26th August 1915, so it’s known that he was a volunteer, not a conscript.
Philip Salt was initially posted as missing, and the Birmingham Weekly Post of 30th September 1916 carried an appeal by his father for further information. His body was never found, and his name is recorded on the Thiepval Memorial. He is also commemorated locally on war memorials at Solihull and Knowle.
Tragically, his mother, Eliza, was killed in February 1925 when a tree fell on her during a gale where the winds reached 78 miles per hour. His father, John, continued to live in Copt Heath and, by the time the 1939 Register was taken on 29th September 1939, he was aged 79, living alone in Jacobean Lane, with his occupation listed as retired groom. He died later that year.
If you have any further information about Philip Salt or his family, please let us know.
Heritage & Local Studies Librarian
tel.: 0121 704 6977
We don’t have very much information about Company Sergeant Major Arthur Callaghan who was killed in action on 7th July 1916 whilst serving with the 9th Battalion Royal Fusiliers (City of London Regiment). He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial. He is also commemorated locally on the Hockley Heath war memorial, as well as on memorials in St Thomas’s Church, Hockley Heath, and Umberslade Baptist Church.
Thomas Freeman of Hockley Heath died of wounds on 9th December 1915 whilst serving as a Private with the Oxford and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry. He is buried in France at Sailly-sur-la-Lys Canadian Cemetery and also commemorated locally on Hockley Heath village war memorial, and on memorials at St Thomas’s Church, Hockley Heath, and Umberslade Baptist Church.
He was commemorated at a service on 3rd September 1916 at St Patrick’s Church, Salter Street, which gave his date of birth as 27th March 1886. This would suggest that his full name was Thomas Ernest Freeman, son of Ellen Freeman, and who was baptised at St Thomas’s Church, Nuthurst on 25th July 1886. Umberslade war memorial also includes mention of a T.E. Freeman.
It looks as if Thomas grew up living with his grandparents, Charles (1828-1899) and Susannah (1832-1908) and two of their sons who were only ten and eight years older than their nephew, Thomas. His mother, Ellen, a domestic servant, married James Ganderton, a labourer, at St Mary Magdalene Church, Tanworth-in-Arden on Christmas Day 1890, when Thomas would have been four years old.
After spending a few years in Tanworth, the couple moved to James’s home town of Beoley, Worcestershire around 1900, and they remained there until at least 1911. They had 13 children, of whom one died in infancy.
One of James and Ellen’s son, James Frederick Ganderton, is also known to have joined the Machine Gun Corps when he was aged 18 years and one month. He enlisted on 10th December 1915, the day after his half-brother Thomas was killed. James was posted to Army Reserve the day after he enlisted and was not mobilised until 30th September 1918. He was invalided out of the Army, aged 21, in February 1919 with chronic bronchitis, which it was noted on his service record was not attributable to his war service. He died on 10th June 1920, by which time his mother was living in Highgate Road, Sparkbrook. He is buried at Brandwood End Cemetery, Birmingham. Ellen Ganderton’s death, aged 70, was registered in Birmingham between January-March 1940.
Thomas Ernest Freeman married Amy Smith in the Solihull district between January-March 1914.
If you have any more information about Thomas Freeman, please let us know.
Heritage & Local Studies Librarian
tel.: 0121 704 6977
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 Umberslade. Soldiers 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.