Many of us will have stood at a War Memorial and paid our respects to the fallen this month. The Sutton Coldfield Great War Project set out to trace the story of all the men whose names appears on the Sutton Coldfield War Memorial. The work was published in July 2014, and we should be grateful to all those who contributed and especially Yvonne Moore who edited the project. I hope that when you next pass the memorial on your way to one of our branch meetings you will know just a little more about some of the men from this small selection of over 300 men who died in the Great War and whose names appear on the memorial.
Private James Adcock 1/4th Battalion Norfolk Regiment. He was killed in action in Palestine on 27th September 1917 and is buried in Gaza War Cemetery. Before the war he was a farm labourer.
Acting C.S.M. Ernest Aldridge 7th Battalion East Kent Regiment (The Buffs). He was killed in action on 12th October 1917 during the Battle of Passchendaele when his Company was attacking Poelcappelle. He had been wounded in 1916 and had been sent back to England to recover. He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial. He had been a dining car attendant with the Midland Railway Company before the war.
Private Frank Leslie Allday 7th Battalion Northamptonshire Regiment was killed in action on the 25th September 1915, during the first day of the Battle of Loos. He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Loos Memorial.
Private Henry Ewart Gladstone Allen Shuker served as Allen 4th Battalion Worcestershire Regiment was wounded and Mentioned in Dispatches in Gallipoli on 19th May I915. He is buried at Port Said Cemetery in Egypt. He had previously served in the Army but when war broke out he was in service.
L/Sgt Richard Sidney Angell MM 5th Ox&Bucks L I. He was killed in action on 3rd May1917 and has no known grave. He is commemorated on the Arras Memorial. Prior to enlisting he was employed as a toolmaker at Perry and Co, Steel Pen and Motor Car Manufacturers.
Private Reginald de Lattre 26th Battalion Royal Fusiliers (Bankers Battalion). He was killed in action on the Somme on 7th October 1916. He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial. He was 20 and had worked for Lloyds Bank. He had attended Bishop Vesey Grammar School and had been recommended for a Commission.
Private Thomas Greville Harrison 1st Battalion Hampshire Regiment. He was killed in action, aged 19 on 21st October 1918 in the advance on Haspres, NE of Cambrai. He is buried at St Vaast Communal Cemetery Extension. He had attended Four Oaks College, and worked in an office in Warstone Lane. His father, Walter Harrison, became Mayor of Sutton Coldfield and was instrumental in the setting up of the War Memorial in the town.
John Henry Higgs was born in Sutton Coldfield but emigrated to Australia. He enlisted on the 9th November 1914 in Adelaide with the 12th Infantry Battalion AIF. He was killed in action during the first Australian landings on Gallipoli on 25th April 1915 aged 45. He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Lone Pine Memorial. His family wrote’ one of that noble band who left his home in Australia to fight for his native land’.
Stoker 1st Class Ernest Jackson was lost by enemy action with HMS Invincible on 3rd May 1916 at the Battle of Jutland. He is commemorated on the Portsmouth Naval Memorial.
Air Mechanic 2nd Class Charles Loveland RFC. He was the observer in a Bristol F2B piloted by 2nd Lt AH Gilbert which was in an air collision over Ypres with another plane from 22 Squadron. Aged 21 he was buried on 21st September 1917 at Potijze, Chateaux Lawn Cemetery Ypres.
Thomas Mercer is one of a small number of men whose name appears on the memorial who despite much research could not be traced. He is on the Sutton Coldfield United Reform Church Roll of Honour and is listed as serving with the Kings Royal Rifle Corps.
Dennis Victor Perrett 99th Field Ambulance RAMC. He died from appendicitis aged 16 at No 23 Service Hospital Camiels, on 1st April 1916. He is buried at Etaples. When he enlisted in August 1915 he stated his age was 19 years 7 months. His parents travelled to France to be at his bedside, but arrived after his death. He had left Bishop Vesey Grammar School in 1915 and worked as a clerk in Birmingham.
Walter William Russell 320th Siege Battery, Royal Garrison Artillery. He died of malaria on 21st December 1918 in a Field Hospital in Salonika. He is buried at Mikra British Cemetery, Salonika.
Charles Bickley 1ST Battalion Coldstream Guards was killed in action near Cambrai on 27th September 1918. He is buried at Sanders Keep Military Cemetery, Graincourt. He had been a chauffeur for Chambers in Sutton Coldfield. His brother Driver William Alfred James Bickley L Battery, RHA, 15th Brigade was killed in action 4th September 1918. He is buried at Point D’Achelles Military Cemetery, Armentieres. He had been a gardener before the war. Their brother Edward Thomas Bickley also served from 1915 with the Coldstream Guards and was wounded in 1917. He was demobilized due to illness in December 1918 and died in Sutton Coldfield in 1959.
Private Edgar John Bromwich 15th Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment was killed in action by a mine explosion 4th June 1916. He is buried at Fauborg D’Amiens Cemetery Arras. His brother, Lance Corporal Leslie Frank Bromwich 15th Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment, appears to have been killed in the same mine explosion on 4th June 1916 and is buried one row away from his brother in Fauborg D’Amiens Cemetery, Arras.
Able Seaman Albert Edward Gilbert was killed in action on board HMS Indefatigable at The Battle of Jutland, 31st May 1916. All but two of the crew of 1,019 were lost.
Private George Phillip Eads 2nd Battalion Northamptonshire Regiment. He was killed in action at Aubers Ridge on 9th May 1915. He is commemorated on
the Ploegstreet Memorial. His medical records indicate he should never have been allowed in the Army, but he persisted in his attempts to serve.
Lance Corporal Edward Brown 14th Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment was reported as missing in action on 23rd July 1916. Aged 30 and a former bricklayer from Reddicap Heath, he has no known grave and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial.
Private C.J. Shears 6th Battalion, Dorsetshire Regiment. He was captured on March 24th 1918. He died of influenza and pneumonia at Union House, Bueruase whilst a POW on July 24th 1918. No next of kin could be traced and like many former POW’s he was re-interred at Cologne, Southern Cemetery.
Second Lieutenant Eric Arthur Walker 6th Battalion Kings Shropshire Light Infantry. He was shot by a sniper while in trenches at la Boutillerie on 29th December 1915. At that point the British Front Line was only 70 yards away from the German positions. He is buried at Rue Petillon, Military Cemetery, Fleurbaix. He was 20 and had attended Bishop Vesey Grammar School.
Second Lieutenant Percival Allen Grove 1st/5th Royal Warwickshire Regiment. Badly wounded on July 1st 1916 he died at the 2nd British Red Cross Hospital, Rouen on July 5th aged 27. He is buried at St Sever Cemetery, Rouen. He had attended Bishop Vesey Grammar School, and was a Chartered Accountant. A letter from the Matron to his parents, quoted from David Phillips account in The Great War Project, might serve as an appropriate postscript to this edition of Brumration;
‘Percival’s funeral took place at 2pm on 6th July. The hymns 277 and 438 were sung together with the Nunc Dimittis. A large cross from his father and all his loved ones, and two wreaths from Matron and nursing staff and Sgt Major and Orderlies were placed on his coffin. He had a full and impressive military funeral, and all was done beautifully and reverently, as at home.’