The bottom end of the enclosure, including the former garden. 2015.

The bottom end of the enclosure, including the former garden. 2015.

A few weeks ago, Brian Holmes asked the question as to why School Lane in Little Wyrley/Norton Canes had such a name https://wyrleyblog.wordpress.com/other-places/the-norton-canes-endowed-school-on-school-lane-little-wyrley/

The applications for entry on the Gt Wyrley Roll of Honour for Benjamin and George Henry Smith, 1917. The handwriting is the same. (Staffordshire Record Office)

The applications for entry on the Gt Wyrley Roll of Honour for Benjamin and George Henry Smith, 1917. The handwriting is the same.
(Staffordshire Record Office)

I had decided that I would take a break from the Great Wyrley fallen soldiers to cover something different; however, I then realised that it was actually approaching the centenary of one of the chaps, so I changed my mind and I am sure people appreciate why. To be honest it wasn’t just the centenary that tweaked my interest, but also the fact that a second ‘Smith’ was recorded on the fallen plaque and this ‘Smith’ puzzled me, as it was out of alphabetical order. No prizes for my regular readers in guessing where this is going, but the thought of an error in some way popped into my mind. I was to not only be proved right, but that also that these men were in fact brothers. So, not only did it seem silly to cover much of the same family background in two articles, but it felt far more fitting to tell their stories, at least what we know of them, together…click the link to read more… https://wyrleyblog.wordpress.com/wyrley-landywood/great-wyrleys-fallen-wwi/ben-and-george-smith-brothers-in-arms/

The emphatically completed 'Roll of Honour' form for Thomas William James (Staffordshire Record Office)

The emphatically completed ‘Roll of Honour’ form for Thomas William James
(Staffordshire Record Office)

Read the tragic story of the elusive on-time Brownhills, Wyrley and Brummie man, Thomas James and how the attempt to get him a recognised war grave has took a giant leap forward … https://wyrleyblog.wordpress.com/wyrley-landywood/the-harrisons-club-great-wyrley-war-memorial-history/from-brownhills-to-brandwood-thomas-william-james-and-the-pity-of-war/

Harry Withnall's medal card, showing he reached France on 5 March 1915 (National Archives)

Harry Withnall’s medal card, showing he reached France on 5 March 1915
(National Archives)

The story of Harry Withnall would leave me a little sadder than usual: not only because he turned out to be an only child, but also that both Great Wyrley and Cheslyn Hay’s memorials have his name incorrect. Wyrley’s error is a spelling one, with ‘Whithnell’ seemingly as incongruous as having John Wilkes Booth carved next to Abraham Lincoln on Mount Rushmore. Cheslyn Hay’s memorial had the correct spelling for Withnall, but the wrong christian name attached – they had him on the memorial as William Withnall. Harry as a name is problematical in that it is a name itself or a nickname for Harold or Henry for example, but surely it could not stretch to William could it?… click on the link to read more… https://wyrleyblog.wordpress.com/wyrley-landywood/great-wyrleys-fallen-wwi/harry-withnall-can-i-please-have-my-name-back/

Mount Pleasant today; once home to Ernest Robinson and scene of the strange death of his father, Stephen in 1916. 2015.

Mount Pleasant today; once home to Ernest Robinson and scene of the strange death of his father, Stephen in 1916. 2015.


For my next soldier story I decided to pick on someone that I had absolutely nothing on other than one line from the Cannock Advertiser. The soldier is on the Great Wyrley memorial gates as Robinson C, but I felt it was another error on the memorial gates as the Staffordshire Roll of Honour had a Robinson in the Great Wyrley entry, but it was an E Robinson and not a C Robinson. An E Robinson also appeared on the Cheslyn Hay list, which manifested itself on the memorial as Ernest Robinson. At the end of the day, it seemed to me that I needed to trace any ‘Robinsons’ in the locality prior to the War and then try to link them to the memorial and to Great Wyrley. While it wouldn’t be definitive, as it is still a few years before the War, a search of the 1911 census listed three Robinson families in the locale; one was to have a C Robinson and one was to have an E Robinson… click on link to read more… https://wyrleyblog.wordpress.com/wyrley-landywood/great-wyrleys-fallen-wwi/private-ernest-robinson-heres-to-you-mr-robinson/

Wilfred North in uniform (Cannock Library)

Wilfred North in uniform
(Cannock Library)


Wilfred’s early life is surrounded by a little mystery. We know from his casualty record that he was born at Albrighton: which is still in Staffordshire, but just the other side of Wolverhampton to Great Wyrley. He was born on Christmas Day, 1892. Although his birth record ties him to Albrighton, everything else ties him to Bridgtown, Cheslyn Hay and Great Wyrley. His first appearance on the census at the age of 8, in 1901, has him living not with his parents, but with his grandparents in Station St, Cheslyn Hay. They were to raise him, so it is that family we shall follow… click link to read more… https://wyrleyblog.wordpress.com/wyrley-landywood/great-wyrleys-fallen-wwi/private-wilfred-north-finding-family/

Cannock Advertiser reports Bason's death, May 1918  (Cannock Library)

Cannock Advertiser reports Bason’s death, May 1918
(Cannock Library)

After having the fortune of finding so much information on Harry Griffiths, I was again to return to the frustrations of not being able to find a war record for my next chosen soldier – Theodore Crescens Bason. I am going to start with a familiar photograph, then ask the reader what is strange about it? It was this quirk that attracted me to research what I found to be Great Wyrley’s only fallen officer…Click link to read more https://wyrleyblog.wordpress.com/wyrley-landywood/great-wyrleys-fallen-wwi/theodore-crescens-bason-the-oswestry-officer/

The Bridge. Lloyd's Chambers is on the right. The last place Minnie was seen at 11.10 pm (Walsall Local History Centre)

The Bridge. Lloyd’s Chambers is on the right. The last place Minnie was seen at 11.10 pm
(Walsall Local History Centre)

Over the past year I have recounted a few tales that drew my attention while listing the cases of the Walsall Coroner some years back. Several further stories have since sprang to mind for a re-telling, but none so mysterious and bizarre as that of Minnie Mills. This story revolves around a horrific event that took place in 1912. Maud Minnie Mills was a 36 year-old woman who was fond of a drink and separated from her husband by court order. On the night of the 29 April, Minnie was to be shot four times in the face and at close range; it was an act that the Coroner described as ‘one of the foullest crimes of murder they have heard of in the annals of Walsall’. Despite the bullets being lodged in her head, it took several days for her to die; indeed, she tried to carry on life as if nothing had happened. Despite the fact it was obvious to the doctors that she had been shot, right up to the last she maintained it was her fault – claiming her injuries were simply the result of a fall. By the time she received medical help, it was too late. A verdict of ‘willful murder’ was passed, but nobody was brought to justice for the crime… Click the link to read more… https://wyrleyblog.wordpress.com/walsall/tales-from-the-walsall-coroner/the-curious-case-of-maud-minnie-mills-walsall-1912/

The moving tribute to Harry in the Cannock Advertiser obituary column, May 1916 (Cannock Library)

The moving tribute to Harry in the Cannock Advertiser obituary column, May 1916
(Cannock Library)

As a miserable man facing a financial meltdown caused by the coinciding of the eldest Wyrleyblogette’s 18th birthday, followed by Christmas and then the new year, I decided to cheer myself up by doing another one of Great Wyrley’s, and in this case, also Cheslyn Hay’s fallen soldiers of the Great War :-) . I had decided to pick-up on what appeared to be, and did in fact prove to be, yet another error on the Wyrley gates: Griffiths H.Y. My belief that H.Y should be Hy, for Harry, but more likely a Henry Griffiths in the formal record, was compounded by a rather curious little entry that I had come across while nipping through the Cannock Advertiser when researching a previous soldier: it was to be found in the obituary column in late May 1916 and stated that Henry Griffiths, from Cheslyn Hay, had been killed in an accident on 15 May 1916…. Read More… https://wyrleyblog.wordpress.com/wyrley-landywood/great-wyrleys-fallen-wwi/sapper-henry-griffiths-harrys-fall-from-grace/

Jack's entry written for the roll of honour in 1917. (Staffordshire Record Office)

Jack’s entry written for the roll of honour in 1917.
(Staffordshire Record Office)

John, who was clearly also known as Jack, would prove as equally frustrating as many other of the fallen Wyrley soldiers in that his war records no longer survive; so, again, what generally that has been pieced together has come from other sources and the general military history of his battalion. Also, the search would prove that Jack wasn’t the only Gossage to go to the War: Albert, Jack’s brother, also went – only he was to survive… read more… https://wyrleyblog.wordpress.com/wyrley-landywood/great-wyrleys-fallen-wwi/john-gossage-dying-with-dai/