Shot At Dawn



Albert was born in Foleshill, Coventry in 1893. He lived with his parents (dad NATHANIEL) mum and 3 brothers and 2 sisters. He worked as a turner, a maker of metal components for machinery and tools. Albert joined the 1st Battalion, Royal Welsh Fusiliers, as a private, war service no. 10853. He went to the western front on the 6th October 1914. In 1915 he was charged with deserting his post, court martialled and shot by firing squad on the 22nd April, he was only 22 years old . Along with his comrade Private Major Penn, he was charged of going AWOL (absent without leave) and they were shot in a double execution. They are both buried in the same grave, plot 3, D, 6. Both men were involved in fighting and endured intense attacks from the Germans. (almost 300 of his comrades were killed all around him ) .Troughton’s Commanding Officer told him his brother had been one of those killed in the attack . He alleged his CO shouted “everyone for himself “and he and Penn wandered off. They were later caught, found guilty of desertion and shot! Albert and Major are buried at the Estaires Communal Cemetery, Nord, France. The roll of the fallen claims he was “killed in action “at Merris and is buried there. (roll of Honour pg. 329 ) The night before he was shot, he wrote a letter home to his family, which a jailor smuggled out of the military prison. He told them he was in good health and hoped they were too. Then went on to say that he was to be shot at 07.00 the following morning! He hoped they would take his news in good part and not get upset, he would die like a soldier so said his final goodbyes. Stating that he had fought in hail sleet and snow like a common soldier and all his regiment had been slaughtered, he wanted everyone to know he had done his duty.  He asked for pity for all his comrades both living and dead and said his final goodbye. From this it would appear that he had accepted his lot and resigned himself to his punishment. It would seem also that he had done his duty but endured the most horrendous of situations and seen so many men killed around him. 


From all the research that I have done into the First World War, it is hard to comprehend the conditions that some of the soldiers must have endured. Most of these soldiers were fairly young men and boys who probably had not even ventured outside their village or town before. And to be thrust into the theatre of war in a foreign land and its unimaginable horrors and stresses must have affected them immensely. It is hard to imagine what they endured, no doubt they had “happy times “but I would imagine they were few and far between. Also to be trained to kill another human being and to actually do it has to be the 

worst thing to endure. No wonder most soldiers when they came home did not want to talk about it!!   It was supposedly “The war to end all wars “ , was that true ? Have we learned anything from it? History tells us no, it was and still is a futile exercise WAR (evidently) DOES NOT SOLVE ANYTHING …… 


This was published as part of The Learning Project on The Herbert web site  by  Alan Aldrich, March 2018

Older Stories

Desperate For News

The wives and families of those who went to the trenches were wracked with uncertainty and grief.

These posts in the Illustrated Gazette by the wives of Samuel Cutler, who worked in the textile trade before enlisting in December 1916 and Sidney Freeman, an insurance agent before enlisting in June 1916, asking for any information, like so many others did not end well. Both were eventually listed as killed in France in April and May of 1917.  Depending upon the ability of the extended family to offer support, the families of such men could suffer extreme financial hardship. It was not unknown for the wife and children to be turned out of their home as the wages from the military ended at death. Not at all a fit treatment for Heroes.


Link to Alphabetical list by Surname

Discover the Hero who lived in your house or street

I have collated and published this information which will allow you to discover if a serviceman who died in First World War lived in your street, or even in your house.

Much has been made of the devastating Blitz of WW2 However, from a population of 110,000 over 2000 Coventry men left to fight in WW1 never to return home. 

The A - Z street index provides details of Address, Name, date of birth, age, date of death and parents or wife. It will also contain the location of a grave or memorial, medals where known and Regiment, squadron or ship. This will be followed by a map of the City with all those streets where a loss occurred shown graphically to demonstrate how the grief affected every part of our City

It is hoped that this newly produced information will assist local historians, family researchers and schools to discover more about the lives that were cut short and the affect upon wives, mothers, parents, siblings and the community in their area.

Many records were destroyed by fire in WW2, so the list, which currently contains nearly 1200 entries, is incomplete but will grow as further information presents itself. It is hoped that following discussions with other organisations that the format for this project could be rolled out across the country, enabling many more to take an interest in this event which has now passed into history after 100 years.

Although, thankfully, it is not possible to walk in their shoes, it is still possible to walk on their streets and to remember their sacrifice.   l

Huge impact on City

More than 380 streets are documented recording the details of  over 1100  who did not survive. Click on the map above for an example of the distribution of casualties or simply browse the street name A- Z index.

Your Letters and Stories

Recent Stories


My great uncle George James Shilton 16 th battalion Royal Warwicks lost in 3rd battle of Ypres Oct 1917, so young.

SHILTON GEORGE JAMES JOSEPH Age 21 Died 07/10/1917 Private Royal Warwickshire Regiment 16th Bn. Belgium '17955' TYNE COT MEMORIAL Panel 23 to 28 and 163A. Son of Mary H. Shilton, of 8, Station Rd., West Longford, Coventry, and the late James Shilton.

Thanks to Roger Gurney for sending this photo and information.


Allen, William Alan. Military Medal. L/Cpl, 2/7th Bn, Royal Warwickshire Regt. Born 18th August 1893. Resided at 18 Charterhouse Road. Before enlisting he was employed as Fitter. He was killed in action 23rd March 1918. On 18th May 1917, he was awarded the Military Medal and Divisional Commander’s Parchment for, although not being a member of any Lewis Gun team, he voluntarily took charge of a recovered gun and used it with great effect at an attack on the village of Fresnoy-le-Petit, at times carrying both the gun and the ammunition single-handed. A Divisional Gallantry Certificate / Parchment - these were awarded for gallantry by the Divisional Commanders. The same names would often be handed on up the chain of command for consideration for Military Medals or Distinguished Conduct Medals which were awarded from Corps level. 

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Pte George James Shilton

Pte George James Shilton

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Hero In My Street