LAST month we told how the Prime Minister of Australia was in France to mark the 100th anniversary of Anzac Day, at the centenary of the Battle of Bretonneux.
This was the battle that effectively stopped the latest surge of the German Spring Offensive.
The Germans had taken the town but a bloody counterattack by the British and Australians drove them back out and secured the village once more.
It’s likely that one of the soldiers wounded in that battle was Albert Barker, from Redditch.
Albert served with the 2nd Battalion The Royal Berkshire Regiment and it is known it suffered heavy losses over the three days of the fighting, from April 24-26.
Such were the casualties that the unit was withdrawn from the front to recuperate and to re-fill the ranks to replace the fallen.
Albert was born in 1899 in Headless Cross, the second eldest of three sons. Two other siblings had died in infancy.
His parents were Reuben, a bricklayer, and Fanny Barker and by the 1911 census the family were living in Webheath Lane, Webheath, later moving to 39 Prospect Cottages in Heathfield Road.
Albert enlisting in 1916 aged 17 and according to the records was 5ft 5ins tall and weighed 112lbs.
It’s likely he would have seen a lot of action with the Berkshire, his unit fighting in many of the key battles of the war.
If he was wounded at Villers-Bretonneux, at some stage he was transferred back to Britain passing away on May 20th, 1918.
Remembering Redditch’s Fallen Heroes recalls that when his belongings were returned to his father all he had was a bag, shaving brush, two handerchiefs, a tie and letters.
He lies buried in the churchyard of St Bartholomew’s Church in Tardebigge and is remembered today on the War Memorials at The Bridge Church in Headless Cross and at St Philip’s in Webheath.
With thanks to:
Remembering Redditch’s Fallen War Heroes.