Commonwealth War Graves in Lickey Cemetery Extension

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My wife and I, when out walking around our local area, will sometimes cut through from Twatling Road to Old Birmingham Road through the Lickey Cemetery Extension and we have always noticed the three Commonwealth War Graves headstones alongside the path. When using the path in June 2022 we noticed that they were unkempt and obscured by tall grass and weeds

The whole cemetery was also heavily overgrown
SO9975 : Lickey Cemetery extension, overgrown war graves beside the path by Roy Hughes


The graves are of

Serjeant A W Blunn of the Royal Army Ordnance Corps
SO9975 : Lickey Cemetery extension, the grave of Sjt A W Blunn by Roy Hughes

Driver A W J Winslade of the Royal Army Service Corps
SO9975 : Lickey Cemetery Extension, the grave of Driver A W J Winslade by Roy Hughes

Aircraftman S R Baker of the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
SO9975 : Lickey Cemetery Extension, the grave of Aircraftman S R Baker by Roy Hughes



On returning home we looked at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) website to discover any information about these servicemen. They were listed in the records along with, to our surprise, another four servicemen.

Driver F W Norrey of the Royal Field Artillery

Air Mechanic H F Venning of the Royal Flying Corps

Sergeant A G Kirby of the 5th Battalion Wiltshire Regiment

Flight-Sergeant H S Cutler of the Royal Air Forces Volunteer Reserve



We decided we had to locate these graves and then do something to make them look more respected. Helpfully, the grave numbers within the cemetery were shown on the CWGC website so we were able to return another day to try to locate them.

This proved a little difficult due to the very overgrown nature of the cemetery. However, we did find the grave of one of the other four servicemen.

Flight-Sergeant H S Cutler of the RAF Volunteer Reserve
SO9975 : Lickey Cemetery Extension the grave of Flight-Sgt H S Cutler by Roy Hughes

Despite our best efforts, and even with the help of the grave numbers to guide us, we were unable to find the other three so we contacted a member of Lickey Church to ask for help. We were very kindly put in touch with a local resident and member of The Lickey Hills Local History Society, Sandra Mason, who not only had details of each grave location, but had compiled the stories of all seven of the servicemen.

Sandra very kindly sent us this information and also gave us permission to use and publish each of the stories behind the graves.


We again returned to the cemetery and after a lot of searching we eventually found the remaining three graves. They were all in a poor state of repair.

Driver F W Norrey of the Royal Field Artillery
SO9975 : Lickey Cemetery extension, the grave of Driver F W Norrey, Royal Field Artillery by Roy Hughes

Air Mechanic H F Venning of the Royal Flying Corps
SO9975 : Lickey Cemetery extension, the grave of Air Mech. 2nd Class H F Venning by Roy Hughes

Sergeant A G Kirby of the 5th Battalion Wiltshire Regiment
SO9975 : Lickey Cemetery Extension, the grave of Sgt A G Kirby by Roy Hughes



HISTORIES AND BACKGROUNDS OF THE SERVICEMEN



We are indebted to Sandra Mason, a local community minded resident and the late Jeff Taylor, both of the Lickey Hills Local History Society, for the following histories and for permission to publish the information on Geograph We intend to continue to visit all seven graves and to record the condition of them.



GRAVE NUMBER 94 - DRIVER FREDERICK WALTER NORREY

Service No: 78911, 42nd Division Ammunition Column served in the Royal Field Artillery.
He died on 9th September 1918, age 25 and is buried in the Family Grave on row 4/18.

He was awarded the 1915 Star, British and Victory Medal.

Background

Fredrick Walter Norrey was the son of William and Ann Norrey of Thorneleigh, Old Birmingham, Lickey.

Very little information regarding this family has been identified from census information. The 1911 census shows that Fredrick was born in Shropshire and at the time the census was taken he was employed as a wagoner on a farm in Durstone, Bromyard.

Fredrick had enlisted on 18 January 1915 and served overseas. He received the Silver War Badge, (given to soldiers who had been wounded or suffered illness that prevented them taking any further part in military activities). He was discharged from the army on 10th July 1918 and died in a Military Hospital in Eastbourne some six weeks later.

At the time of Fredrick’s death his parents were living at Pump House Lodge, Shepley. His body was returned home to be buried in Lickey Churchyard Extension.

Driver Norrey's grave 19th August 2022
SO9975 : Lickey Cemetery extension, the grave of Driver F W Norrey, Royal Field Artillery by Roy Hughes
On the 26th August 2022
SO9975 : Lickey Cemetery extension, the grave of Driver F W Norrey, Royal Field Artillery 26th August 2022 by Roy Hughes




GRAVE NUMBER 100 - AIR MECHANIC HERBERT FRED VENNING

Service No, 94464 Royal Flying Corps. Second Air Mechanic, formally Service No: 20320 11th Battalion, Worcestershire Regiment he died on the 5th December 1918 at 1st Birmingham War Hospital, Rubery.

He is buried in a family grave at Plot 100, Row 04/24

Awards: 1915 Star, British and Victory medals
Commemorated: St. Chad’s Church and Rubery British Legion war memorials

Background

Herbert Venning was born in Bridgewater, Somerset, the oldest child born to Fred and Gertrude Alice Venning. At the time the 1901 and 1911 census were taken, the family were living at Asylum Cottage, Rubery. In 1911 Herbert was 17 years old and his siblings were Adele aged 13, Ruberie age 6 and Kathleen aged 3. Fred was employed as a house painter at Rubery Hill Asylum. When the Asylum became the 1st Birmingham War Hospital in 1914 Herbert’s father, Fred, joined the R.A.M.C. and remained at the hospital for the duration of the war.

Herbert was working as a motor trimmer at the Austin Motor Company when he joined the army on 8th September 1914 and embarked for France with the Worcestershire Regiment on 22nd of September 1915.
The CWGC information gives the family living at 44 Inverness Road, Birmingham.

Information obtained by the late Jeff Taylor - source not known.

Herbert Fred Venning, Second Air Mechanic, Royal Airforce, died of pneumonia at the 1st Birmingham War Hospital, Rubery, following 3 years and 3 months service in Salonika. Air Mechanic Venning joined up at the first call in 1914, a week or two before his 21st birthday, leaving a good position at the Austin Motor Company and was drafted to the 11th Battalion Worcestershire Regiment. Whilst serving in Salonika he transferred to the R.A.F. During his journey back to England, however, he was obliged to travel in open trucks for 9 days and nights, whilst the rain poured down in torrents. At Southampton he was advised to spend a few days in hospital but preferred to travel directly home to Rubery. He arrived suffering from influenza and died in hospital on 5th December 1918 at the age of 25 years.

A brief notification of Herbert Venning’s death appeared in the Bromsgrove Droitwich and Redditch Weekly Messenger on December 14th 1918.

Air Mechanic Venning's grave on the 19th August 2022
SO9975 : Lickey Cemetery extension, the grave of Air Mech. 2nd Class H F Venning by Roy Hughes
Grave on the 5th September 2022
SO9975 : Lickey Cemetery. The grave of Air Mech. 2nd Class H F Venning 5th September 2022 by Roy Hughes



GRAVE NUMBER 702 - SERJEANT ALFRED WILLIAM BLUNN

Royal Army Ordnance Corps, No – 7603109

Sjt Blunn was killed on 6th September 1940, age 28 at Allum Green near Lyndhurst, Hants and is buried in Lickey Churchyard Extension in Row 21, Grave 2, marked with a CWGC headstone.

Commemorated locally on Lickey War Memorial


Background


Alfred William Blunn was the son of Harold and Madeline Blunn of 13, Barnt Green Road. He had married Margaret (Peggy) Barlow at Holy Trinity Church, Lickey on 10th January 1940. The couple had been married just 9 months when he was killed.

After Alfred joined the army, he was attached to the Recovery Section of No 8 Army Field Workshop. Their role was to recover and repair damaged guns and army vehicles. Alfred had survived the Dunkirk evacuation that had occurred in May 1940 and at the time of his death he was billeted at Allum Green House, Lyndhurst.

On the night of 5th/6th September the area was subjected to a Luftwaffe bombing attack and a bomb dropped on Allum Green House. The high explosive bomb passed through the officers' sleeping quarters on the upper floor and exploded in the Sergeants Mess in the cellar, killing four British Soldiers, Alfred Blunn being one of them. The house was demolished and a bench has recently been placed on the site in memory of the four soldiers killed.

Sjt Blunn's grave on the 13th June 2022
SO9975 : Lickey Cemetery extension, the grave of Sjt A W Blunn by Roy Hughes
The 25th July 2022
SO9975 : The grave of Sjt A W Blunn In Lickey Cemetery 25th July 2022 by Roy Hughes




GRAVE NUMBER 704 - DRIVER ANTHONY WALTER JOHN WINSLADE

Served in the Royal Army Service Corps with a Service No. MT/133867

He died 14th September 1940, age 25 and is buried in the Holy Trinity Churchyard Extension, Grave. R21/4, His grave is marked with a CWGC headstone.



Background

To date, very little information has been located about the death of this soldier or his connection with the Lickey area. (He may have had a connection with Rubery.)
He was born in 1915 at Cardiff and married his wife Ivy (Cliff) in 1935 at West Bromwich.
The 1939 Register records him as being a Bread and Cake Maker living with his wife and two children, Betty born in 1937 and Brian born in 1939. The family were then living at 98, Dartmouth Street, West Bromwich.
Anthony Winslade’s death was recorded at Warminster and at the time of his death he was based at East Camp, Longbridge, Deverill in Warminster.

Driver Winslade's grave on 13th June 2022
SO9975 : Lickey Cemetery Extension, the grave of Driver A W J Winslade by Roy Hughes
The 25th July 2022
SO9975 : The grave of Driver A W J Winslade In Lickey Cemetery 25th July 2022 by Roy Hughes



GRAVE NUMBER 731 - SERGEANT ALBERT GEORGE KIRBY

Served with the 5th Battalion Wiltshire Regiment and had a service No. 5570596

He died at Hollymoor Military Hospital on 19th April 1941 and is buried in Holy Trinity Churchyard Extension, Lickey Grave: Row 21/31

The CWGC headstone inscription reads ‘Son of Albert George and Ada Kirby of Northfield, Birmingham’
Remembered also on Chippenham Town and Lickey War Memorials.


Background


The Kirby family had moved to Northfield from Chippenham, Wiltshire, where Albert had grown up. The family had lived in London Road, Chippenham and his father, also called Albert, worked as a blacksmith at Westinghouse, where railway signalling equipment was manufactured.

When Albert (jnr) enlisted, he joined the 5th Battalion of the Wiltshire Regiment. A Territorial Army Service Unit formed in 1939. The unit remained in the UK for the first part of WW2.

Unfortunately, Albert developed appendicitis and was admitted to Hollymoor Hospital where he underwent surgery to remove his appendix. But, complications from the surgery developed and on 19th April 1941, Albert died. He was buried in the Churchyard Extension at Lickey. When his parents died in 1972, they were buried in the same plot, and the CWGC headstone placed on the grave.

Sgt Kirby's grave on 19th August 2022
SO9975 : Lickey Cemetery Extension, the grave of Sgt A G Kirby by Roy Hughes

On the 9th September 2022
SO9975 : Lickey Cemetery Extension, the grave of Sgt A G Kirby 9th September 2022 by Roy Hughes




GRAVE NUMBER 747 - AIRCRAFTMAN SELWYN RUTHERFORD BAKER


Served with the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve Service No. 1185954, Aircraftman 1st Class, Coastal Command

He died, 4th September 1941 age 26 and his death was registered in St. Austell, Cornwall.

Aircraftman Baker is buried in Holy Trinity Churchyard Extension Lickey in grave 22/2 which is marked with a CWGC headstone


Background

Son of Mr and Mrs Rutherford Baker, husband of Edna Lilian Baker of Lydiate Ash

Selwyn Rutherford Baker was the son of Rutherford and Winifred who lived in New Road, Bromsgrove. He had married Edna Lilliam Giles in 1938 and during WW2 Edna was living at Lydiate Ash, Rubery. The couple had one child, Brian, born in 1941. It was at this address that Edna, posthumously received her husband’s WW2 war medals.
How Aircraftsman Selwyn Baker met his death has not been established. It is likely that he was part of the ground crew based at one of the Coastal Command airfields in Cornwall.

Aircraftsman Selwyn R. Baker’s WW2 medals appeared for sale on the internet in 2017. The seller stating;
WW2 Casualty - War Medal in named box of issue and with named Medal Slip, 1185954 Aircraftman 1st Class Selwyn Rutherford Baker RAFVR. Died 4/9/1941. Buried Lickey Churchyard. Box addressed Rubery, near Birmingham.

Aircraftman Bakers grave on 13th June 2022
SO9975 : Lickey Cemetery Extension, the grave of Aircraftman S R Baker by Roy Hughes
25th July 2022
SO9975 : The grave of  Aircraftman S R Baker in Lickey Cemetery 25th July 2022 by Roy Hughes
The 19th August 2022
SO9975 : The grave of  Aircraftman S R Baker in Lickey Cemetery 19th August 2022 by Roy Hughes




GRAVE NUMBER 779 - FLIGHT-SERGEANT HAROLD STANLEY (BAT) CUTLER


Flight Sergeant Cutler served in the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve with a Service no. 1236174 and was attached to Advanced Flying Unit.

He died on the 16th October 1942, age 19 and was buried in Holy Trinity Lickey, Churchyard Extension, Grave no. R.22/34 with a CWGC Headstone.

Background

Son of Harold William Cutler and Florence May Cutler of 1830 Bristol Road South, Rednal, Worcestershire

At the time of his death Flight Sergeant Harold Stanley Cutler was a pupil pilot based at RAF Acaster-Malbis in North Yorkshire which was an Advanced Flying Unit. On 13th October Flt-Sg Cutler was on a night training flight with an instructor, Flt Sgt J. N. Maclver. They had taken off at 19.45 in aircraft Airspeed Oxford AP395 of No 15 (P). Records state that visibility deteriorated and the pilot lost sight of the flight flare path, though it is possible that the electronic night flying aids may have been turned off due to the possibility of enemy activity.

As Flt-Sgt Cutler descended from 600 to 100 feet in an attempt to establish where he was, as the aircraft descended it hit a tree and crashed at 20.30 about 3 miles from the airfield. Both men were taken to York Military Hospital but the Instructor died on arrival and Flight-Sergeant Harold Stanley Cutler died of wounds 3 days later on 16th October 1942.

Flt Sgt Cutler's grave on the 4th August 2022
SO9975 : Lickey Cemetery Extension the grave of Flight-Sgt H S Cutler by Roy Hughes

On the 9th September 2022
SO9975 : Lickey Cemetery Extension: the grave of Flight-Sgt H S Cutler 9th September 2022 by Roy Hughes

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