Articles and Photos Courtesy
Alan & Beverly Leeson

100042 Sgt. Henry (Harry) Joseph Birtles

100042 Sergeant Henry (Harry) Joseph Birtles (Royal Air Force) was born on the 3rd March 1896. I cannot find any British birth record for him or any census records but his RAF records stated he was the son of “Mr R V Young, 33 Phayre Road, Quetta, India, both his parents are dead and his legal guardian is Mr John Henry Martin of 24 Heron Street, Fenton, Stoke-on-Trent”. On Henry’s headstone it has his father as Staff Sergeant R.V. Young, M.W.S.India. Was R.V.Young Henry’s stepfather?


The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) have Henry (Harry) as the Grandson of Henry and Emma Birtles (nee Jones) of Hall Green, Scholar Green. Henry and Emma married in 1865 in Wolstanton; Henry’s occupation was Shop Keeper & farmer.


His service record are as follows: he joined the RFC (the RFC became the RAF on the 1st April 1918) in 1917 he was at St Leonards from the 17th October 1917 until 30th November 1917, then from the 16th January 1918 he was at the 28th Training Squadron in Castle Bromwich.

He graduated (qualified) on the 23rd March 1918 and was accidentally killed on the 22nd April 1918, the accident report said “ 22/04/1918 Pup B5943, of 28 Training Squadron dived into the ground while attacking a target in Sutton Park.  Sgt Henry Joseph Birtles was killed”


Henry (Harry) is buried in All Saints Church, Odd Rode. On the All Saints Church War memorial Henry is written as “Harry Joseph Birtles” this is incorrect, his name on his head stone in Henry, the CWGC records he is written as “Henry Joseph Birtles”, and on his RAF service records he is written as “H.J Birtles”.


On Henry’s headstone it reads” Sergeant Mechanic Henry Joseph Birtles, Royal Air Force. Killed in an Aeroplane Accident at Castle Bromwich. Born 3rd March 1896”.

Then on the other side it reads” In loving memory of Catherine Eleanor the deeply beloved wife of Staff. Sergt R.V.Young M.W.S.India who died 16th January 1912, Thy will be done R.IP”.


Henry has been quite a challenge to research, and if anyone can shed any light on him, please do get in touch.