Wallace T Lawson, from the Walsall & District Roll of Honour. (Walsall Local History Centre)

Wallace T Lawson, from the Walsall & District Roll of Honour.
(Walsall Local History Centre)

Wallace Lawson is a soldier buried in Great Wyrley Cemetery by a twist of fate. He served in the Royal Engineers from 1915: a period that saw him in Ireland during the Easter Rising, in France through 1917 and celebrating Armistice Day there; yet he would never make it home. Read his updated story… http://wyrleyblog.wordpress.com/cheslyn-hay/cheslyn-hays-fallen-wwi/wallace-thomas-lawson-and-when-is-a-soldier-a-soldier/

The White Lion in Ind Coope & Allsopp's Livery, so prior to 1959(ish) (Bridgtown Local History Society)

The White Lion in Ind Coope & Allsopp’s Livery, so prior to 1959(ish)
(Bridgtown Local History Society)

This history of the White Lion is the last of a trilogy covering the C19th pubs of Churchbridge. The White Lion was the new kid on the block when compared with the Robin Hood and the Red Cow, both of which likely appeared swiftly after Gilpin’s works was established by 1817. They can be traced at least to the 1830s, whereas the White Lion, equally a product of industrialisation, can only be traced to 1861. It is funny, the White Lion may be in Churchbridge, but its closest neighbour was the Anglesey Arms (now the Stumble Inn) in Bridgtown…http://wyrleyblog.wordpress.com/wyrley-landywood/the-churchbridge-pubs/the-white-lion/

The sinking of the RMS Leinster, painted in 1918 by Simeon Hughes. (Holyhead Maritime Museum)

The sinking of the RMS Leinster, painted in 1918 by Simeon Hughes.
(Holyhead Maritime Museum)


The next soldier that I chose to investigate was to be WMC Woodhouse (on the Wyrley gates). Woodhouse was picked on the basis that one of my few regular blog readers is named Woodhouse and he asked me about the Woodhouse on the memorial gates, after he read the article on Joseph Masters (the photograph of the plaque with Masters’ name on it in that article also showed that of Woodhouse). What came from my basic research was that there is another error on the gate plaques and that, yet again, the real Woodhouse is as elusive as many of the other men on the memorial. http://wyrleyblog.wordpress.com/wyrley-landywood/great-wyrleys-fallen-wwi/lcpl-reginald-coley-woodhouse-catching-the-irish-mail/

Herbert Thomas Higgs, in the Walsall Observer, 17 June 1916

Herbert Thomas Higgs, in the Walsall Observer, 17 June 1916


Herbie Higgs turned out to be our only fallen sailor and the search for this man took me from Oldbury to Aldridge, then to Castleford (Yorkshire), then to Heath End (North Walsall) and finally to Great Wyrley. The story would take in not only his attestation to serve, but also that of a father that would outlive all of his natural children – a fate no parent deserves… http://wyrleyblog.wordpress.com/wyrley-landywood/great-wyrleys-fallen-wwi/herbert-higgs-ab-jutland-the-somme-of-the-sea/

Short Heath war memorial on the night of 12 November 2014, bedecked by poppy tributes to the fallen. This year, Thomas Jones will also me remembered for the first time.

Short Heath war memorial on the night of 12 November 2014, bedecked by poppy tributes to the fallen. This year, Thomas Jones will also me remembered for the first time.

Read the updated story of Sapper Thomas Jones and the quest to find him a place to call home. http://wyrleyblog.wordpress.com/articles-other/sapper-thomas-jones-a-place-to-call-home/

Cannock Advertiser, 21 Nov 1914. An account of Masters' death. (Cannock Library)

Cannock Advertiser, 21 Nov 1914. An account of Masters’ death.
(Cannock Library)

Masters is one of a few soldiers that is represented on both the Great Wyrley memorial gates and the Cheslyn Hay war memorial. Like many soldiers, Joseph Masters’ Great War record doesn’t survive and so we have to piece together his story from the few fragments that we have from other sources. Initially, I intended to write this article and publish it on the same day – the 7 November 2014 – as I only found that day (yesterday) that Masters was killed on this day, a century ago. Something made me hold fire – and I am pleased I did, as I managed to get to Cannock Library where I found an obituary in the newspaper. This showed that he was in fact killed on the 6 November and added a little more biographical detail… http://wyrleyblog.wordpress.com/wyrley-landywood/great-wyrleys-fallen-wwi/lcpl-joseph-masters-a-century-past/

The final page of Ralph's first letter, talking of when 'the British Bull-dog bites...' (Walsall Local History Centre)

The final page of Ralph’s first letter, talking of when ‘the British Bull-dog bites…’
(Walsall Local History Centre)

As an archivist, every now and then a collection comes along that peaks my curiosity perhaps a little more than others; this story is about one of those collections, or more accurately two of them. It started back in October 2013 when a letter arrived at the Walsall Local History Centre that was postmarked ‘America’. Inside were two letters sent in April 1915 from a solder, ‘Ralph’, to the proprietors of the Herbert’s Park Tavern in Factory St, Darlaston.’Ralph’ was clearly unidentifiable from the letters, but they do give some clues about his identity and clearly show what he thought of the War: his vivid account of the machine-gunning of stretcher-bearers chilled me. Then in October 2014 a couple of unconnected WWI postcards appeared, or so I thought. The name ‘Ralph’ and the handwriting seemed familiar. I had already listed the first collection, but could this wierd coincidence add anything further to our knowledge… http://wyrleyblog.wordpress.com/walsall/ralph-ralph-who-letters-from-the-western-front-to-darlaston-1915/

A Seaman's Suit (Walsall Local History Centre)

A Seaman’s Suit: A poem by Baron Powell to aid the Mayor of Walsall’s appeal for the Merchant Navy Comforts Service
(Walsall Local History Centre)

Here is a snippet of a story. A few days ago the Walsall Local History Centre was approached by the Mayor’s Office in relation to an item gifted to the Mayor from a citizen of the town. The Mayor was curious to find out a little more about, so I had a look. Having done so, I thought it would make an interesting enough little bonus article for the blog and for the Walsall Local History Centre’s Facebook page. http://wyrleyblog.wordpress.com/walsall/walsall-1943-the-mayor-a-baron-and-the-merchant-navy/

Whitehall Infant Department, 1926 photographed by W Bullock. (Walsall Local History Centre)

Whitehall Infant Department, 1926
photographed by W Bullock.
(Walsall Local History Centre)

This article follows on from that looking at the background and opening of the school in 1899. In this article I want to take a look the early years of the school, specifically the period between 1899 and 1923. This was the tenure of the first headmistress, Sarah Jane Woodward (nee Parker). The period covers the opening of the main school, the transfer from School Boards to the Local Education Authority in 1902, the building and opening of the new Infant Department in 1903 and of course, the harrowing time of the First World War. What will become clear is that Sarah faced a multitude of day-to-day problems regarding staffing, the children, the building, sickness and overcrowding. These problems and experiences will be seen through the eyes of Sarah herself, who detailed the daily life in the school log book. It will become evident in just how schools and education has changed. http://wyrleyblog.wordpress.com/walsall/whitehall-infant-school-1890s-1923/whitehall-infant-school-1899-1923-part-2-the-sarah-jane-parker-story/

Obverse sides of Billy Meredith's medal set. 2014.

Obverse sides of Billy Meredith’s medal set. 2014.

This article is a little different for me as its inspiration was not taken from a name on a memorial, but a cache of medals from a surviving soldier of the First World War. Dave, a regular at the Harrison’s club in Great Wyrley, mentioned that he had his grandfather’s medals and asked if I would like to see them. I did and he duly obliged. He presented me with a set of four medals that belonged to a William Henry Meredith, but even a basic inspection showed immediately that there was something that wasn’t quite right. Dave knew nothing of the medals and was at a loss when I pointed-out the inconsistencies, so, with his permission I set-off to unravel the Meredith story and the medal mystery… http://wyrleyblog.wordpress.com/walsall/billy-fred-and-the-importance-of-being-ernest-william-merediths-wwi-medals/