Five broth­ers from Cov who all went to war

Warwickshire Telegraph - - WE WILL REMEMBER THEM - By SAMN DIMMER

FEW fam­i­lies have a prouder mil­i­tary tra­di­tion - and a more tragic story - than the Red­ding­tons.

When the First World War broke out five broth­ers from the Hill­fields fam­ily went to the front to fight for their coun­try, and just one failed to re­turn.

Back home their mother Sarah Red­ding­ton was left rais­ing an­other eight chil­dren on her own, with lit­tle food and even less money.

Her plight was so des­per­ate that she was even hauled in front of the city’s mag­is­trates be­cause she chose to send her daugh­ter for a bite to eat in­stead of school.

Times were so tough that Mrs Red­ding­ton died in 1917, a year be­fore her four sur­viv­ing sons re­turned home.

The bat­tle for sur­vival, both at home and abroad, was un­cov­ered by rel­a­tive Der­rick Old­ham when he started re­search­ing his fam­ily tree.

Der­rick, of Ast­ley Av­enue, Foleshill, said dur­ing an in­ter­view in 2014: “I had been do­ing all this re­search and then all of a sud­den it started to come to­gether.

“Parts of it were like some­thing out of a Dick­ens novel - it’s enough to move any­one to tears.”

Sarah and her 13 chil­dren lived to­gether in Vaux­hall Ter­race, off East Street. When war broke out her five boys, brother and brother-in­law, went to fight.

The old­est brother to fight for his coun­try was Wil­liam Red­ding­ton, who left the Spark­brook Cy­cle Com­pany to join the 4th South Mid­land How­itzer Bri­gade early on in the con­flict.

He was even­tu­ally joined by Arthur, Jack, Her­bert and Al­fred who each joined dif­fer­ent reg­i­ments and headed to the con­ti­nent.

The Mid­land Daily Tele­graph hailed the fam­ily as war he­roes in March 1915, list­ing their reg­i­ments and achieve­ments so far in the con­flict. Less than eight months later Sarah had been or­dered to at­tend court.

She was charged with fail­ing to send one of her six re­main­ing chil­dren to school reg­u­larly.

The court heard that she had been try­ing to sup­port her fam­ily on 12s 1d a week and nearly half of that went on rent.

The money came en­tirely from one of her sons fight­ing abroad and the wages of one child, but it wasn’t enough to feed them all, with Mrs Red­ding­ton ex­plain­ing that she sent the child to her aunt in­stead of school so she could get some­thing to eat. The mag­is­trates asked her why she didn’t ap­ply to the guardians - groups who ad­min­is­tered re­lief to those in poverty - and face up to a stint in a work­house.

Mrs Red­ding­ton said she was afraid she had lit­tle choice.

If poverty wasn’t enough for Sarah to deal with she then got word that one of her brave sol­dier sons, Jack, had been caught up in en­emy ma­chine gun fire.

Sgt Red­ding­ton, of the Royal War­wick­shire Reg­i­ment, man­aged to get back to his own lines but de­spite the ef­forts of medics he didn’t sur­vive the in­juries.

The 23-year-old had been mar­ried for just over a year. The next tragedy for the Red­ding­tons came in 1917 when Sarah passed away aged 50, a year be­fore Arthur, Her­bert, Wil­liam and Al­fred re­turned home.

Der­rick says all of this came as a shock to him when he started re­search­ing, as Al­fred, or Fred, was the only brother he knew.

“Ev­ery time we would go to a fu­neral there were five of these guys and they would all look the same,”

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