BIRMINGHAM GREAT WAR TRAIL - OUT OF TOWN SECTION



In late 2013 Brewin Books will publish 'Birmingham 1914-1918: a Great War Trail'. For publication the final section on places on the edge of Birmingham had to be cut. It appears here.

 

Barr Beacon. Colonel John Henry Wilkinson of Ashfurlong House, which was situated just north of the Tamworth Road between Bassetts Pole and Sutton Coldfield, bought Barr Beacon as a perpetual public memorial for the soldiers of the Staffordshire and Warwickshire regiments killed in the Great War. It was purchased from the Scott estate of Great Barr Hall. It was opened to the public on April 21 1919. Wilkinson was a wealthy philanthropist and had served in the Staffordshire Volunteer Infantry Brigade. He was born in Bradford in 1845. His father came to Handsworth with a business in Birmingham – Wilkinson and Riddell, wholesale merchants. He was educated at private schools in Birmingham, Lancashire and Lausanne. He joined his father’s business and also joined the local company of Volunteers. He was promoted and became a Brigade Major in the Staffordshire Volunteer Infantry Brigade. In 1894 he was an alderman on Staffordshire County Council and helped to create a Petty Sessions and criminal courts in the Handsworth district. He was also a magistrate. At that date he lived at ‘Elm Wood’ on Hamstead Hill.  The copper dome on Barr Beacon was erected in Wilkinson’s memory in 1933 at the same time as the war memorial was built. It is on a raised dais covered with a copper covered wooden dome supported by eight columns. Use is made of Portland stone.


Handsworth Magazine Vol. 1. No 6. December 1894


Great Barr War Memorial Hall, Chapel Lane, Great Barr.

Erected in 1926 in memory of soldiers who fell. Inside there is a memorial board to eleven local men who fell.


Solihull Church – memorial wall plaque to Captain Clement Martineau, 10/Royal Warwicks. He died of wounds as a German prisoner in Belgium on May 5 1918, aged 21, having been wounded and captured on April 10. His parents, Geoffrey and Jessie, lived at Touchwood Hall. He is buried in Kortrijk (St Jan) Communal Cemetery, Belgium. He had attended Solihull School where he had been a Cadet Colour-Sergeant in the OTC. He was commissioned on July 21 1914 and became a lieutenant at the end of the year. He went to France on July
18 1915. Five Martineaus have served as Mayor/Lord Mayor of Birmingham at different times and Clement was related to this elite Birmingham family. They all descended from Gaston Martineau who came to England as a Huguenot refugee in 1686 and Clement’s branch to Robert who came to Birmingham in 1828. Clement’s grandfather, Francis Edgar Martineau, came to Solihull in 1861 and
was in business in Birmingham as a brassfounder and toolmaker.


Touchwood Hall is now the site of a Solihull’s first  shopping centre in Mell Square but also gave its name to a new shopping centre nearby called ‘Touchwood’.

 

‘Estcourt’in Ashleigh Road, Solihull

This was the home of Lieutenant Charles Herbert Lander, 10th Warwicks. His diary has been published. He was born in 1893 at Handsworth and his father was a manufacturing jeweller in Great Hampton Street. He went to Handsworth Grammar School and then Solihull School where he joined the OTC. In around 1907 the family moved to a newly built house in Ashleigh Road. He attended Birmingham College of Art and the University OTC. It was at an OTC camp when the war broke out. On October 30 he joined the 2/6
Warwicks as a private and was soon promoted. In March 1915 Charles went to Cambridge for officer training and was then posted to the 10th Battalion but did not go to France with them. He stayed with different reserve battalions. Eventually he was ordered overseas by telegram and arrived at Boulogne on April 20 1916. When he joined the 10th Warwicks he was soon appointed as signalling officer. On October 22 1916 his battalion moved into the line near La Boiselle and he recorded the remains of July 1stas he passed between the old front lines…

 


“We had clear evidence of the terrible slaughter of July 1st and after; the dead had been buried where they fell – hundreds of them – marked sometimes by rough wooden crosses but mostly by rifles stuck bayonet first into the ground with a few words of identification written on a scrap of paper and stuck into the bolt. Large numbers of these bodies were only just covered a feet and legs still protruded above the ground with just a boot or fragment of sock remaining on the bones”


On November 18 1916 he was wounded by shrapnel in the left hand during an attack on Grandcourt during the Battle of the Ancre. His wound was a ‘blighty’ one and he spent some time in a Manchester hospital. After recovery he was posted to Ireland before rejoining the battalion in May 1917.He was promoted to full lieutenant in July that year. On May 8 1918 he was wounded by shrapnel and returned to England once again. He did not return to the front again and was on a signals course at Dunstable when the war ended. On July 13 1918 he had married Dorothy Throckmorton of Coughton Court.  After the war he returned to the family firm and then set up his own jewellery business. In 1921 he bought 85, St Bernards Road, Olton. Six children followed. During the Second World War he served in the Home Guard. He died on November 6 1984.


‘Lander’s War 1914-1919. The War Diaries of Lieutenant Charles Herbert Lander, 10th Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment’. Edited by Michael Harrison. Menin House. 2010.


St Nicholas and St Peter, Curdworth.

Five men who served at Castle Bromwich airfield were buried at Curdworth. The two earliest were on the same day, September 17 1916. These were Lieutenant John Cyril Hodges and Second Lieutenant Leslie Syson, both of 28 Training Squadron. The former was aged 19 and had been born at Lerwick in the Shetland Islands. He was the son a clergyman and had lived at the Rectory, Coggleshall, Essex and had originally been commissioned into the Royal Garrison Artillery in December 1915 before transfer to the Royal Flying Corps. At the inquest he was described as a ‘flying officer and inspector’.  The latter was aged 23 and originally came from Liverpool but lived in London. They were killed in the same aircraft, a Sopwith Strutter which had a structural failure during aerobatics at the airfield. The inquest was told that the machine was seen to ‘loop the loop’ at about 3000 feet when it appeared to collapse and fell to the ground. It had been completely overhauled before take-off and was in ‘perfect condition for flying purposes’. 

 

Lieutenant Sidney Woodrow, 30, of the Australian Flying Corps was killed six days later. He came from Neutral Bay, New South Wales where he left a wife, Ella. He was in a Sopwith Strutter of 54 Squadron and dived into the ground in the Wishaw area possibly because the pilot was ill. Inside the church he had his own memorial in the impressive form of a four bladed wooden  propeller with a metal plaque on which there is an Australian ‘rising sun’ war emblem. On June 23 1917 Second Lieutenant Conrade William Jacot was killed in an Avro 504 of 28 Training Squadron. He was performing a loop when the seat broke and jammed the controls causing a crash in the locality of the airfield. He was a local man from ‘The Hill’ Perry Barr in Birmingham. In 1911 he was attending King Edward’s School, Aston, where his aunt was a teacher. His father, Louis, was a ‘watch jewellery dealer’ and at that time the family of five children lived at 259, Birchfield Road. His surname is interesting as his father was noted as ‘Switzerland resident’. It is likely that Conrade Jacot was only 17 when he was killed. Second Lieutenant Villers was injured and survived the crash. Second Lieutenant Leslie Morley Fletcher, 19, was killed on July 5 1917 in a Sopwith Strutter of 71 Squadron when it side-slipped and crashed on take-off from the airfield. He has a
private memorial and was from the Australian Flying Corps. Another Australian who was his passenger, Air Mechanic A.J Merritt, was badly burned in an attempt to save the pilot’s life; he was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal. 


There is a mystery about a sixth man who is listed with those above on a separate wooden board inside the church. He was Second Lieutenant Cyril Talbot Burnley Croft, 24, whose place of burial is given as South Cadbury churchyard, near Yeovil, Somerset, by the CWGC. His father was the rector there. He was killed on December 8 1915 having served initially in the 9/Somerset Light Infantry to which he had returned from Canada early in the war. He has a personal plaque on the church wall and is also commemorated at Clevedon. He had received his aviator’s certificate of the Royal Aero Club at the Military School, Birmingham, on October 27 1915 after
qualifying on a Maurice Farman biplane. He was killed when he spun into the ground in an Avro 504 at the airfield. It is likely that he was initially buried at Cadbury and his body later re-interred in Somerset.


See the article by Chris John on the Hellfire Corner web site entitled ‘Royal Flying Corps Burials and Memorials, Castle Bromwich aerodrome, Birmingham'

 

‘A Midland Aeroplane Disaster. The Search for an HP O/400 Crash Site’. Jeff Taylor. Cross and Cockade magazine. Volume 36. No 3. 2005.

 

Hill Top House, West Bromwich

 

 Also called Holyhead House it has a blue plaque on the home of Captain Robert Phillips V.C, 9th Warwicks. He won the VC for an action in Mesopotamia on January 25 1917. His citation stated that….


“For most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty. After his Commanding Officer had been mortally wounded in leading a counter-attack and, eventually, with the help of a comrade, succeeded in bringing him back to our lines. Lieut.Phillips had in the first instance tried to get a telephone wire across the open, following the battalion in their counter-attack. This was impossible when the signallers were killed. His Commanding Officer lay wounded in the open, and as the counter-attack had succeeded, he turned all his energies on getting him in. He showed sustained courage in its very highest form, and throughout he had but little chance of ever getting back alive”.


An NCO from Leamington witnessed Phillip’s action in winning the VC in the Hai Salient and later described what he saw in the Midland Chronicle on June 15 1917….

 

"The enemy rushed a part of the line we were holding and the Royal Warwicks were ordered up to set matters right. The Colonel was knocked out while leading the counter-attack in person. The enemy were sending a terrific barrage across, which for the time being severed communications between our advancing troops and the headquarters. It was then that Lieutenant Phillips volunteered to re-open communication by means of a field telephone. The wire was paid out and, under the leadership of Lieutenant Phillips, who walked amid the torrents of fire as though he were without fear, the line was carried half way across. Then the operators were wiped out and the enemy’s fire got worse than ever. Asking one of our chaps to go with him, Lieutenant Phillips made a rush towards the spot where the colonel lay wounded. The two men were forced back by heavy fire but later they had another try and, after four attempts, Lieutenant Phillips managed to get to the side of the colonel. He rendered first aid and moved the wounded officer to a place of greater safety, Then the man who had volunteered to come with him managed to rush through the enemy barrage and the two started to get the colonel back to our lines. In spite of the furious German shell fire the little party got through, being hidden frequently in great clouds of dust and earth. ‘The men worship him’ added the speaker of Lieutenant Phillips.“


Robert Phillips was born at Hill Top, West Bromwich, in 1895 when his father was a ‘roll turner’. He attended St James National School there and in 1907 his family moved into Holyhead House, Hill Top. In the same year he joined King Edward’s, Aston.  In late 1911 he
became a boy clerk in the Tax Surveyor’s office at Worcester, transferring two years later to London. In March 1914 he joined the 1/15thLondon Regiment of Territorials. At the end of the year he was commissioned into the 9th Warwicks and served in Gallipoli. In April 1916 he was promoted to lieutenant and adjutant. In May 1918 he was attached to the RAF for pilot training and was at home when the war ended. Two days before the Armistice the King presented him with the VC at Buckingham Palace. After the war he rejoined the civil
service and worked at home and abroad. In 1920 he married Beatrice and found a home at Barnt Green. He later lived at Altringham and Stoke on Trent. In 1969 he died in Lostwithiel, Cornwall, and is buried in the local churchyard.


Black Country Bugle web site – 'West Bromwich home life of Victoria Cross hero’ by an unnamed author.  


Soldiers’ Chapel, Knowle Church

 

 

The Soldiers’ Chapel in the North Transept at Knowle Church was dedicated by the Bishop of Birmingham on June 5 1921 and the unveiling was performed by Major General Harold Bridgewood Walker, who commanded 48th (South Midland) Division in Italy at the end of the war. The buglers and drummers of the 8th Warwicks sounded the ‘Last Post’. It is dedicated to the eighty-one men from
the village that were killed in the war and was established as a result of the leadership of Canon Downing of Knowle vicarage. He kept careful records of all men from Knowle who served in the war. He was also the ward of Lance Bombardier Harvey Watts of 169 Brigade, Royal Field Artillery, who was killed aged 19 on April 12 1918. He lived in the vicarage and a photograph of Downing was found
in his pocket after he was hot by shrapnel.


There is a stone screen with a laurel wreath of victory entwined with palms of martyrdom. There are stone carvings with the words ‘Remember’ and ‘Greater Love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends’. The memorial east window
was unveiled by Brigadier General Walter Ludlow who gave it in memory of his son, Captain Stratford Ludlow, who was killed on the first day of the Somme whilst serving in the 1/8th Warwicks. 


The window depicts the victory of Christ over evil, Christ with a crown of thorns, a battered church, barbed wire and a demon writhing in flames. It also incorporates an extract from the 1/8th daily orders of July 1st and the likeness of three Knowle soldiers, Ludlow, Thomas Cooper and John Balkwill. The latter was in the 1/6th Warwicks. Private Thomas Cooper, who died aged 26, lived in Hampton Lane where his father was a manufacturer of spurs. Second Lieutenant John Balkwill, died aged 33, was the son of a grocer and was in
business himself in Birmingham. He had also played for Knowle Cricket Club. There is also a grave marker for Lance Bombardier Harvey Walter Watts who was killed, aged 19, who was killed at a time of heavy fighting in France on April12 1918 whilst serving in 169th Brigade Royal Field Artillery. He is buried in Hangard Communal Cemetery Extension, near Villers Bretonneux.  


Canwell Hall estate

 

 

The estate was about 3600 acres in extent and was north-east of Sutton Coldfield and off the road to Tamworth and north of Bassetts Pole. It was purchased by the City Council between the wars to provide small holdings for ex-servicemen and a home for disabled men. The estate was divided up into holdings of between 5 and 50 acres. About 150 men and their families benefitted. The Highbury Trust
bore the cost of a village hall there.

 

Image description
Image description
Image description
Image description

War Diary of the 10/Warwicks in April 1918 reveals the fate of Captain Martineau


Curdworth Church aerodrome memorial


Knowle Church memorial window


Official opening of Barr Beacon April 1919


Captain Clement Martineau

Image description


The Grange, Bills Lane, Shirley.

 

 In 1917 this was the home of Mrs J.H Kirk and the temporary home of her sister, Matron Katy Beaufoy. The latter was on the Hospital Ship SS Clenart Castle when it was torpedoed by a German submarine in the Bristol Channel on February 26 1918. Four months later she was acknowledged as drowned and missing. The ship had left Cardiff on the previous day bound for Brest in France in order to pick up wounded. There were only 38 survivors from the crew, medical staff and nurses. Katy is commemorated on the Hollybrook Memorial,

Southampton, St James Church memorial, Shirley and the Women’s Screen in York Minster. She was serving in Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service. Katy was born in Aston on December 20 1868, the daughter of Thomas and Susanna Beaufoy, who were both born at Foleshill, near Coventry. She had two older brothers, Samuel and Joseph and one younger, John. There was also a
sister, Ellen. In 1871 the family was living in Oliver Street, Aston. In 1891 the family were living at 109, Nechells Park Road, Nechells. Thomas was a Post Office clerk. Katy, now 22, was living at home and did not have an occupation.


Ten years later all the children had left home and the parents were living at 2, Springfield, Erdington. Thomas was recorded as a  ‘retired assistant Superintendent’ in the Birmingham Post Office. He was now 61. Katy had attended St Clements School in Nechells. In October 1893 she began nurse training under Miss Gordon at the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital, Exeter and in December 1896
she became sister in charge of the operating theatre. She did this until June 1898 when she became sister responsible for 33 beds in two Male Medical Wards. At the beginning of 1899 she became Matron of the Exeter Fever Hospital (also called the Exeter Sanitorium for Infectious Diseases) which had 80 beds. Whilst there an epidemic of enteric fever broke out. At the beginning of August 1900
she volunteered to serve as a nurse in the Boer War. She was there until November 8 1902 serving as a member of the Army Nursing Service Reserve. 


When she returned she made an application to join the Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Nursing Service Reserve which had been set up in March 1902 to rationalise military nursing.  She was turned down because of insufficient social status as at that time QAINS preferred the daughters of army officers and clergy. She made another application in October 1908. On the 1902 application she gave her address as South View, Whitehouse Common, Sutton Coldfield, the home of her father who she described as a ‘pensioned Superintendent GPO, Birmingham’. Having been turned down she went to London as a private nurse for Dr G.Black in Wimpole Street and Dr Parkinson in Sloane Street. She cared for both surgical and medical cases. She was still there in 1908 because her address on the second application was 31, Eardley Crescent, Earls Court. On this occasion she probably joined the QAIMNS Reserve. She cannot be found on the 1911 census and a letter she wrote to the Matron-in-Chief on October 30 1917 probably explains why. “I wondered if my knowledge of Italian might be of any use should you be opening any hospitals in Italy. I have lived two years in Rome and Florence”. Whilst in Rome she was assistant matron of the Queen of Italy’s Polyclinic Hospital (Queen Elena) which trained Italian nurses.


She volunteered for war service on August 17 1914 and spent the first few months at Devonport Military Hospital. By June 4 1915 she was at the No 15 General Hospital in the former Abbasieh School at Alexandria on which date she was transferred to the Ras-el-Din
hospital there.  She had her first hospital ship, the ‘Ionian’, at Mudros which served the Gallipoli campaign after which she was appointed matron of the New Khedivial Hotel at Alexandria, which had been a very grand hotel. In June 1916 she was appointed matron of the Hospital Ship Dover Castle, a requisitioned steamship of the Union Castle Line for 607 patients. She was invalided home from Inalla at Salonika because of inflamed haemorrhoids in order to have an operation. Later medical boards noted that the condition was as a result of nursing conditions at Salonika. She left Salonika on the Dover Castle for Malta on May 7 leaving behind two sisters and eight nurses because they transferred to the 29th General Hospital. She was very fortunate to miss the torpedo attack on her ship on May 26 1917. Most of those on board were saved. Whilst on the island after May 18 she received a ‘wire’ which told her that her father had died on May 3 and that she had inherited the house at Sutton Coldfield. She arrived in London on June 19 after using an overland route, probably via Marseilles. On May 26 the Dover Castle had been sunk by a torpedo attack north of Annaba, Algeria. 

 

At home her operation was delayed until she could settle matters arising from the death of her father but it nevertheless took place on July 11 1917. She had already attended one Medical Board and over the following months she faced others on July 31 (Millbank, London) and August 30 and September 13 (both 1st Southern General Hospital, Birmingham). On the latter date she was pronounced fit for duty. Her address varied during this time but, most often, was her sister’s home, Mrs Ellen Kirk, at ‘The Grange’, Shirley. She was in a hostel for nurses in London on October 31 when she learned that she was to be held in readiness for duty as matron of the Hospital Ship Clenart Castle. On November 8 she received the nominal roll of nurses. When she compared it with the copy of the Senior Medical Officer she discovered that her salary was to be £75 per annum which was £10 less than previously. She wrote to the Matron in Chief to query the matter.  On November 12 she left Euston for Liverpool and joined the ship the next day.


Little is known about her service on the ship until the fatal attack at 03.47 a.m. on February 26 1917. The ship sank in less than 10 minutes west of Lundy Island after the torpedo hit the engine room. The wreck, which lies twenty miles WNW of Hartland Point, has been explored by the Ilfracombe Sub Aqua Club. The ship weighed 6824 tons and had previously been called ‘The Galician’. Some survivors were picked up and taken to Swansea, Milford and Pembroke. For the newspapers this was another ‘German outrage’.  On February 26 2002 a memorial to the sinking was unveiled at Hartland Point with a major contribution from her great-nieces. The War Office confirmed Katy’s death, missing drowned, to her sister four months after the sinking. On the list of those who also died were
five RAMC officers, including Lieutenant Colonel J.C.Furness, two chaplains and five staff nurses. Sister Rose Kendall from Birmingham also died. 


The executors of her will were her brother-in-law, Joseph Howard Kirk, and her brother, Joseph Elliott Beaufoy, who lived at 114, The Avenue, Acocks Green. The latter was a cashier and chief clerk to a leather goods manufacturer. The probate of her will was valued at
just over a £1000; some of which presumably came from her father’s house.  Katy’s nephew, Clive Marston Beaufoy, is also named on the St James war memorial, Shirley. He was the son of her brother, Samuel, but was living in 1911 with another brother John, who was the manager of a metal manufacturing works. Clive had been born in Columbo, Ceylon but later attended Solihull School and Cambridge University. His widowed father was on a ship from London to Columbo on October 1907. At the beginning of the war he joined the 15thWarwicks as a private at the age of 17 years 3 months. He was later commissioned into the 10th Warwicks and was killed on September 25 1918 and buried at Vielle-Chapelle New Military Cemetery, north-east of Bethune.


Another of Katy’s nephews also saw war service. John Eric Beaufoy was the son of Joseph Elliot Beaufoy and his wife, Lucretia. He was born in Small Heath in 1898. At some point he joined the naval training ship ‘Worcester’ but was itching to get into the war so jumped
ship in Australia. On January 2 1917 he joined the Australian Imperial Force at Albany, Western Australia. He arrived at Devonport on March 27 and went to France to join the 44th Battalion on August 20. He served for nearly a year in the 3rd Australian Division which saw action at 3rd Ypres, on the Somme in 1918 and the Battle of Hamel the same year. In August 1918 he was hospitalised at Rouen with influenza, then sent to England and the Exeter War Hospital. He convalesced at Tiverton VAD Hospital. For the rest of the war he was in Australian camps in England, including another spell in hospital for the same reason, until he was demobilised in London in March
1919.  

 

Service file National Archives WO/399/494


The house ‘The Grange ‘ no longer survives. Katy’s school, St Clement’s Church of England, still exists and is now in Butlin Road, Nechells in a modern building.


St Kilda, St Bernard’s Road, Olton, Solihull.

 

This was the home in 1912 of Germanborn Charles Henry Laubenburg. He ran a firm of East India merchants at 58, Cambridge Street, Birmingham. On May 21 1915 he was a member of Gustav Boeddicker’s loyal deputation to the Lord Mayor of Birmingham after the sinking of the Lusitania. He had then been resident in Britain for 43 years and naturalised for over 25. On the 1911 census he was at St Kilda and the household details show that he was born in Germany in 1853 and was described as an export merchant. The enumerator wrote in details for his wife Kate but then crossed them out. A daughter, Ida, aged 30 and born in Yardley, was at home (died 1915) as was John Hiley Laubenburg, aged 22, also known as Jack. Jack had been born in Olton and was a merchant’s clerk. There was a cook and a housemaid. Richard Boyle, 22, was visiting and was an engineer for a canal company. Kate was not at home but was at ‘Winchfield’, Albion Road, Sutton, Surrey, in the house of her son-in-law Henry Erith.


Kate had been born in Huddersfield in 1864 and was married to Charles in early 1887. Kate appears to be the second wife of Charles Laubenburg as on the 1881 census he was living at ‘The Hollies’, Yardley with his first wife, Fanny, then 29, born in London. She was probably also known as Florence and died in early 1885. There were two young daughters. in 1881, Mary, 2, and Ida, six months, both born at Yardley. Charles was described as a merchant. On July 3 1891 the London Gazette published a list of newly naturalised ‘aliens’. Charles Henry Laubenburg was listed with an address of ‘Claremont’, St Bernard’s Road. Mr and Mrs Laubenburg signed an address to
the Reverend Arthur Butler, Vicar of St Margaret’s, Olton, on July 12 1892, the occasion of the latter’s 50th birthday. In October 1909 Mr and Mrs Laubenburg had travelled to Gibraltar as passengers on a P&O ship.


A daughter from the first marriage was also not at her Surrey home in 1911; she was Florence May Laubenburg who was married in 1902 to Henry Erith. Her sister, Ella Beatrice Laubenburg, born 1882, was also living away from home. In 1911 she was living at Endell Street, Bloomsbury, London, the London Lying In Hospital, where she was a staff nurse. This was a maternity hospital.  Ella was
born in Yardley in 1884.  Nurse Ella aubenburg served in the British Red Cross and Lieutenant Jack Laubenburg was n the Royal Flying Corps during the First World War. They were both listed as erving in the St Margaret, Olton, parish magazine.


In early August 1914 Ella was with the French Red Cross at Hastiere on the River Meuse in Belgium, near Dinant. She had been nursing wounded soldiers. As the advancing Germans were approaching the nurses were told to evacuate to the other side of the river as the main bridge was to be blown up. They were still in the town on August 22 when a major battle took place with the French army still holding the ‘German’ side of the river. At 10 p.m. on August 22 the French began to leave. Ella was on night duty at the time with five or six French wounded who were taken prisoner. The English nurses now looked after German wounded. They were allowed to go to
Brussels via Namur. Brussels was German occupied and Ella began nursing their wounded in the King’s Palace. On September 22 they were informed that the British Red Cross contingent of eighteen nurses was no longer allowed to nurse German soldiers. On October 5 the British Red Cross and St John’s Ambulance contingent were allowed to leave Brussels for England  - 120 nurses, seven doctors and ten orderlies. 


In January 1914 Jack had travelled to Casablanca as a passenger on the ‘Arzila’; he was recorded as an engineer. He went to France with the RFC on April 3 1915 but later became an officer in the Machine Gun Corps. His post-war Medal Index Card crossed out St Kilda as an address and added 58, Cambridge Street, Birmingham. On a P&O ship to Gibraltar in July 1922 he was described as an export merchant. Heinrich Laubenburg was living at St Kilda in 1913. He was born in 1885 at Yardley and was a son of the first marriage. In 1911 he was boarding at a house in Poplar Avenue, Edgbaston and was described as a traveller in an export hardware merchant's. The October 1916 parish magazine listed 24 Olton men who had died including Second Lieutenant C.H Laubenburg of the 13th Battalion of
the Royal Warwickshire Regiment, which was a reserve unit.


On May 29 1918 a vestry meeting was held in the Church schools to consider an application for permission to place on the high altar two candlesticks donated by Charles Henry Laubenburg. A lady objected to their acceptance and the vicar, Dr Butler, pointed out that this was the renewal of an offer made six years previously. The lady’s response provoked a strong protest from the meeting and a resolution was passed which stated “That having regard to the observations made about Mr Laubenburg and his gallant son, Lieutenant Jack Laubenburg, this Meeting desires to express its entire confidence in their loyalty”. The Secretary was asked to forward a copy
to the two Laubenburgs. At an adjourned Vestry on June 6 1918 it was made known that Charles Laubenburg had withdrawn his offer.


Charles Henry crops up again in the London Gazette on September 1919 which announced a list of firms which had been granted permission by the Board of Trade under the Non-Ferrous Metal Industry Act. The entry was for C.H Laubenburg and Co, 58, Cambridge Street, Birmingham. There is also an intriguing photograph on the internet of the firm’s silver hallmark, which had been electro-plated. It has the words ‘G.H Laubenburg, Birmingham’, some words in Hebrew and a Star of David. This suggests that the Laubenburgs were a Jewish family. Kate died in the Solihull area in 1929, aged66. Jack died in the Birmingham area in 1932. Charles Laubenburg died in Surrey in 1937 at the age of 84. Ella died in Sussex in 1944 aged 61.


Lea Marston, near Curdworth

 

Private Cecil John Kinross VC grew up in the village before the First World War until his family emigrated to farm in Alberta, Canada in 1912. He attended the local school and Coleshill Grammar School. He was born at Dews Farm, Harefield, Middlesex, on February 17 1895 before his Scottish born father came to farm at Lea Farm and the Hollies. On October 21 1915 he enlisted in the 51st Battalion of the Canadian infantry at Calgary. Before the end of the year he embarked for England and then went to France to join the 49th Battalion in March 1916. He was wounded in early October 1916 with shrapnel to his right arm and side and did not return until May 1917. He spent time in a hospital in Orpington, Kent. The VC action took place on October 30 1917 near Passchendaele in Belgium.


His citation read “For most conspicuous bravery in action during prolonged and severe operations. Shortly after the attack was launched the company to which he belonged came under intense artillery fire and further advance was held up by a very severe fire from an enemy machine gun.  Pte Kinross, making a careful survey of the situation, deliberately divested himself of all his equipment save his rifle and bandolier and, regardless of his personal safety, advanced alone over the open ground in broad daylight, charged the enemy machine gun, killing the crew of six, and seized and destroyed the gun.His superb example and courage instilled the greatest confidence in his company and enabled a further advance of 300 yards to be made and a highly important position to be established. Throughout the day he showed marvellous coolness and courage, fighting with the utmost aggressiveness against heavy odds until
seriously wounded”. He was injured by a shell in the head and left arm and did not return to front line duties.  In March 1918 he received the medal from King George V.


Whilst on ten days hospital leave he returned to Lea Marston in February 1918 where he was given a village welcome and presentation. He was greeted at Water Orton Station by relatives and friends and carried shoulder high to a waiting motor car. He then began a tour
of Lea Marston, Curdworth and Minworth. The procession was headed by the Sutton Park Military Band, children from Lea Marston School and boys from Coleshill Grammar School. He was given a hero’s reception. At Lea Marston School he was presented with a gold watch , suitably inscribed, a gold chain, a wallet with money and an illuminated address which expressed admiration of his heroic
conduct ‘in a just and righteous cause’. The total value of the gifts was about £90. Afterwards he joined a Reserve Battalion and sailed for Canada and discharge in February 1919. He died at the Lougheed Hotel, Alberta, on June 21 1957 and was buried with full military honours. In 1951 a mountain in the Jasper National Park was named Mount Kinross.  

Birmingham Weekly Post February 23 1918

 

In 2011 Hillingdon Council arranged for a blue plaque at Harefield, Middlesex


 

St Michael, Cofton Hackett churchyard

 

 Here lie the family graves of the Impey family of Longbridge House. They include Captain Arthur Impey, 79th Brigade, Royal Artillery, whose diary of the final 100 days of the war can be found on the Hellfire Corner web site. Also buried there is his sister, Dr Elizabeth Impey, a medical graduate of Birmingham University, who was killed in a torpedo attack by a German submarine on the SS Persia near Crete on her way to take up a post as the Medical Superintendent of Lady Dufferin’s Women’s Hospital at Lahore, India on December 30 1915. She was born in 1877 and after leaving the University worked as house surgeon at the Birmingham Maternity Hospital and late at the London Temperance Hospital. Other members of the Impey family founded the Kalamazoo firm. The Impey family home was Longbridge House which now has Greenlands Club on the site.