Lance Corporal Enoch Wright, 3rd Special Reserve Battalion, South Staffordshire Regiment, 9725, died on the 10th February 1916 age 40 whilst serving on the home front in Earsdon.
Enoch was born on 19 Feb 1875, the son of William Wright and Elizabeth nee Liversuch. As a young man he worked as a collier and also served in the 3rd Battalion, North Staffordshire Regiment, a Militia Battalion which supported the two regular battalions. He tried once to join the regular army but was rejected (the reason given is “Under Chest”). He eventually succedded in enlisting as a full time soldier in the South Stafford Regiment, regimental number 4390, at the age of 19, on 29th November 1894.
His father William died in Bolebridge Street in 1905 and his mother Elizabeth remarried to William Wood in 1911. It is probable that she moved to Glascote around this time.
Enoch married Hilda Lily Wood in 1907. She was fifteen years his junior. In 1909 they had a daughter, Florence Helen Wright. In 1911 they were living at 14 West Street, Kettlebrook. Enoch was a coal hewer, working below ground. They had two boarders at that time, Arthur Taylor and Frank Jackson. The month after the census was taken, they had another daughter, Hilda Lily Wright, who died as a baby at 14 West Street on 20th August 1911. Their birth of their first son, John Enoch Wright, was registered in the Atherstone district in the last quarter of 1912.
Enoch was probably recalled to service in 1914. The regimental history states that in August 1914 the 3rd Reserve Battalion was stationed at the Depot at Whittington Heath Barracks in Lichfield. On mobilisation they were moved to Fort Stamford, Plymouth.
By 1915 Enoch and Hilda had separated, and Hilda was living with her partner Ernest Warren in Atherstone. Hilda’s next child, Ernest Warren Wright, was born in Atherstone in the summer of 1914, and he was almost undoubtedly Ernest’s son.
In January 1916 an incident in the newspaper confirms that Hilda was living with Ernest Warren at Black Horse Yard, Atherstone. Hilda and Ernest married soon after Enoch’s death and they had more children together. I believe Ernest died in 1929. In 1937 Hilda married a third time, to Arthur Morris.
In May 1915 the 3rd Reserve Battalion had moved to Sunderland. In February 1916 Enoch was at Earsdon Camp, Northumberland, a camp used for accommodation of troops, stores, and training grounds, which I believe was part of the Tyne Garrison to which the 3rd Staffs would be attached again, in November 1916, at Forest Hall, Newcastle. In October 1914 it was being constructed as a mobilisation camp (Shields Daily News), then in December 1914 the Newcastle Evening Chronicle again reported the need for joiners in the construction of a ‘New Hut Camp’ at Earsdon. By August 1915 the Notts and Derby Regiment were stationed there (Mansfield Reporter).
On Reddit I found the following information, “It (Earsdon Camp) seems to have kept a hospital role throughout the war, serving soldiers from Scottish regiments, although, the level of care it offered changed over time. In 1916 it became a Command Depot, with 40 beds for officers and 5000 for other ranks, for “rehabilitative training of soldiers too fit for convalescent camp, but not yet fit enough to be returned to unit”.”
On 11 February 1916 the Newcastle Journal reported: “Soldier’s Sudden Death. The death occurred suddenly, yesterday, at Earsdon, of Lance-Corporal Enoch Wright, of the 3rd Staffordshire Regiment. Wright, who was 42 years of age, is supposed to have died from heart failure.”
Enoch is buried at St Alban’s Church, a Grade II listed church on the hill at Earsdon, near Newcastle upon Tyne. His war gratuities were paid to his widow, and to his mother Elizabeth, who was named as the guardian of Enoch’s children. probably Florence and John. It is possible that Hilda was claiming a gratuity for her son Ernest, even though he was unlikely to be Enoch’s child.
It seems that Enoch was commemorated in Glascote because his mother Elizabeth raised Enoch’s children Florence and John in the area, probably at 29 Neville Street. I found a record of his son John living at 29 Neville Street when his motorcycle collided with a horse and cart. I have also confirmed that Elizabeth lived at that address in Jan 1927 when an article appeared in the Tamworth Herald about some money stolen from her.