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26th Jun, 2022

A truly global conflict: How four Redditch soldiers met their fate

Ross Crawford 14th Oct, 2018

CLOSE to the British Embassy Garden in Tehran, capital of Iran, lies the grave of Redditch soldier Wilfred Edward Bartlett who died, not on the Western Front, but fighting to save Persia and the route to India from the advancing Turkish Army.

Private Bartlett was in the 9th Battalion of the Worcestershire Regiment which had been sent to bolster the Persian militia.

Far away from the mud and horror of France and Belgium hit unit that fought an amazing rearguard action against overwhelming forces, first in an ultimately futile attempt to defend Baku – in modern day Azerbaijan – and then against Turkish forces attacking from what today is Iraq.

Wilfred had been born in Cirencester in 1898, the second son of George Bartlett, a steam roller driver, and his wife Frances Ellen.

The family spent his early years in Oxfordshire but by the time of his death were living in Hunt End in Redditch.

Out in Persia, according to the War Diary of the Worcestershires, it is likely Wilfred was in ‘D’ Company of the 9th Worcs, which had missed the Baku adventure to defend Persia’s borders.

Here, against overwhelming odds, they fought a brilliant tactical retreat in barren conditions until, reinforced, they brought the Turkish advance to a halt.

However it was not without cost as due to the privations they’d endured Wilfred, along with six other men, including his commanding officer, contracted pneumonia.

He died on October 3, 1918, and is remembered today on the War Memorial Bridge Church, St Luke’s Church as well as in a small corner of Tehran.

Victor William Archer was another Redditch soldier who succumbed not to shot and shell, but to disease.

Born in 1887, who was the eldest of Charles and Alice Archer’s three children.

The family lived in St George’s Road and his father worked in the cycle trade while Victor became a fish hook maker.

He joined up in December 1915, serving as a gunner with the Royal Garrison Artillery and spent two years on home service until August 1918 when his unit was shipped out to India.

They arrived on September 24 but the following day Victor was admitted to hospital suffering from typhoid. He subsequently died on October 4.

He is buried in the Kirkee 1914-1918 Memorial, India, and is remembered today on the War Memorial at Our Lady of Mount Carmel RC Church in Beoley Road.

On the Western Front, Private Ernest Robert’s unit, the 8th Worcestershires, went over the top on the opening day of the Battle of Cambrai, 1918, on October 9.

It proved a bloody day for the 8th Worcs, which despite the steady retreat of the enemy, suffered heavy casualties.

Ernest was wounded, but died later that day.

Born in 1894, he was one of the seven children of Frederick and Fanny Roberts.

His father died when he was nine and by the 1911 census the family were living in Ipsley Street and his mother worked as a clothier in her own shop, Ernest later working as a clerk to help support the family.

He is buried in the Bellicourt British Cemetery, between St Quentin and Cambrai in France and is remembered today on the War Memorials in Plymourh Road, Redditch, and outside St Stephen’s Church.

Jack Lolley was killed in action on October 12, 1918, serving with the 1/8th Battalion the Royal Warwickshires.

Born in 1892 he was Redditch through and through, one of Thomas, a fish hook maker, and Martha Lolley’s six children.

The family lived in Red Lion Street and Jack later worked as a cycle polisher, marrying his sweetheart Marjorie on February 5, 1916.

The couple named their daughter Martha after Jack’s mum, but she was to be their only child.

Like Ernest Roberts, his unit was involved in the Battle of Cambrai, and were pursuing the enemy towards Le Cateau in the face of growing resistance.

They’d marched 13 miles in seven days – unheard of by Western Front standards – in the face of constant fire when he was killed.

Jack is buried in the Roisel Communal Cemetery also between St Quentin and Cambrai and is remembered today on the Redditch War Memorial in Plymouth Road and on the St George’s Church War Memorial.

With thanks to:

Remembering Redditch’s Fallen Heroes


The Worcestershire Regiment in the Great War – Capt H Stacke

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