Archive for the ‘WWI’ Category

Anonymous grave markers,  now divorced from their graves, at the Burntwood Asylum graveyard. 2016.

Anonymous grave markers, now divorced from their graves, at the Burntwood Asylum graveyard. 2016.

The first of a 3 part article on depression in WWI, with special emphasis on the Cannock Chase camps. Part 1 investigates how well mental health was understood back in World War One and the story of a local soldier Silas Sargent of Bloxwich and Cheslyn Hay… https://wyrleyblog.wordpress.com/cannock/driven-to-dispair-the-dark-side-of-the-cannock-chase-camps-part-1/

A recruitment cartoon in the Advertiser, Sep 1914. (Cannock Library)

Mr Phillips and Don the Dog raising money for the Tommies, 1914. (Cannock Library)


This is the story of John Henry Degg from High Town, Hednesford. John Henry epitomises the opening day casualty of the Battle of the Somme – one of 19,240 dead – but I wanted to show that he was a person and not just a statistic. I have also used his family experience in order to give some local (Great Wyrley and Cheslyn to Cannock and Hednesford) and general military and political background not only to the battle, but the entire war… https://wyrleyblog.wordpress.com/cannock/the-cannock-area-in-world-war-one-the-deggs-of-hednesford/

Bath St Cemetery, early 1900s, now devoid of most of its headstones and funerary art. (Walsall Local History Centre)

Bath St Cemetery, early 1900s, now devoid of most of its headstones and funerary art. (Walsall Local History Centre)

This article started off as the story of Albert Edward King RE, a soldier from Chalford in Gloucestershire, and it still is, but the disappointment over the slightly unkempt nature of the graveyard he, and all the others, lay in mean’t that I wanted to extend the article to encompass through local examples, Great Wyrley, Cheslyn Hay, Walsall, Birmingham, as well as Chalford in Gloucestershire, the role of graveyards and funerary art (including headstones, statues and war memorials) in local communities. It is not meant to be exhaustive, but a brief look at the history and responsibilities that go with them… https://wyrleyblog.wordpress.com/articles-other/graveyards-headstones-and-now-lie-i-like-a-king/

King's grave in the rather unkempt churchyard at Chalford.

King’s grave in the rather unkempt churchyard at Chalford. 2016.

As I have been a little under the weather, and so I am just getting back into writing a new article, I thought I would post this item as a bit of a bridge until that is ready. It shows an aspect of the work we do at the Local History Centre that is seldom seen: as it is a short video that Cath (our Local Studies Librarian) and I (Archivist) did as part of a project with the Common Ground Federation (which enable young people to deliver inspiring action that bridges communities through common ground and tackles issues that lie at the heart of society) on how local history (and especially the Walsall Zeppelin raids) can be used to connect the generations through shared experience and a shared sense of place.

Also, it is for those that live in Wyrley (and the wider area) that are interested in who it is that actually writes Wyrleyblog – yes, I actually appear in it – so if you see me around please say hi and let me know what you think of the stories or if you have any ideas for one!

Walsall Congregational Church, bombed in 1916. (Walsall Local History Centre)

Walsall Congregational Church, bombed in 1916. (Walsall Local History Centre)


I intend to write-up a full account of the 1916 Zeppelin raid from a Walsall perspective, as I am a little tired of the myths that seem to linger about it. A few years back I was interviewed by the BBC for Radio WM and BBC Midlands Today (which went out nationally) regarding the Zeppelin raid in Walsall: the TV interview doesn’t seem to be on-line anymore, but the radio broadcast is… http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p01sjx52

An oil painting by GW Woolley,1919. Looks like a Christmas card scene - i use this for my avatar on Wyrleyblog Facebook (Walsall Local History Centre)

An oil painting by GW Woolley,1919. Looks like a Christmas card scene – I use this for my avatar on Wyrleyblog Facebook (Walsall Local History Centre)

Follow the Watson story, from London, through Warwickshire to Pelsall, then onto Cannock, Chadsmoor and to the fields of France. Teaching, bizarre marriages, World War One, Religion and a gruesome death all play their part – but was it our Emily that I had found, could I prove it? … https://wyrleyblog.wordpress.com/articles-other/emilys-autograph-album-a-local-tale-pt-2/

William Ames' entry for the Gt Wyrley Roll of Honour, 1917. (Staffordshire Record Office)

William Ames’ entry for the Gt Wyrley Roll of Honour, 1917. (Staffordshire Record Office)


I suppose we can only assume that William was already in the Territorials when war broke out, and the 2nd North Midland Field Group was mustered immediately. By mid-August the unit had made its way to the military camp at Limbury, near Luton. It is possible William joined the unit late, but we know he is there by mid-September as he is included in the roll call list later published in the Lichfield Mercury… https://wyrleyblog.wordpress.com/wyrley-landywood/great-wyrleys-fallen-wwi/william-henry-ames-first-and-last/

The opening of the Gt Wyrley Memorial Garden on Saturday 8 April 1922. Note the avenue of lime trees - one for each of the 25 fallen soldiers - there are plaques on the gates, they are just difficult to see. Thanks to the GWLHS.

The opening of the Gt Wyrley Memorial Garden on Saturday 8 April 1922. Note the avenue of lime trees – one for each of the 25 fallen soldiers – there are plaques on the gates, they are just difficult to see. Thanks to the GWLHS.


I have, for over eighteen months, charted the lives, through short biographies, of the fallen village soldiers of the First World War named on the memorial garden gate plaques. As I investigated the names on the gate plaques it became evident that many were erroneous in one way or another: the usual memorial curse of mis-spellings here being compounded by extra initials and first or surnames that were completely wrong. Indeed, out of 25 names, my investigations revealed that 11 contained some kind of error. With this discovery, the purpose of the blog biographies began to change: as well as tell a story they would also act as the proof needed to formally identify the soldier so that I could go to the Great Wyrley Parish Council – who were very keen for me to do so – with a full list of the changes needed. The Council would then debate and settle on some kind of solution regarding alteration. This blog post is that proof and will be presented to the Council in February 2016… https://wyrleyblog.wordpress.com/wyrley-landywood/great-wyrleys-fallen-wwi/great-wyrleys-world-war-one-roll-of-honour-the-errors-on-the-gates/

A food economy exhibition at the Temperance Hall during WWI (Walsall Local History Centre)

A food economy exhibition at the Temperance Hall during WWI (Walsall Local History Centre)


This is the tale of the unfortunately named John Thomas, who was charged in December 1917 with food hoarding by the Walsall Food Control Committee. Thomas’ house had been raided by the Walsall Police on 14 December and the Council decided to prosecute a few days later. Found guilty, Thomas was given leave to appeal and appeal he did. What seemed to be a tuppeny-ha’penny food hoarder from the back of beyond was to be defended at the Quarter Sessions by Sir Edward Marshall Hall, arguably the greatest barrister in the country at that time…
https://wyrleyblog.wordpress.com/walsall/edward-marshall-hall-and-the-case-of-the-walsall-food-hoarder-1918/

A photograph taken sometime after September 1925 and before 1935, as the two guns are located near the tank. (Walsall Local History Centre)

A photograph taken sometime after September 1925 and before 1935, as the two guns are located near the tank. (Walsall Local History Centre)


The story of the First World War trophies is, to me, one of love and hate: originally, I believe, they were seen as morale boosting and acceptable, however, after the conflict I believe they became an embarrassment as the same gamut of opinion arose that saw the removal of the Russian guns in the 1870s. The trophies began to dwindle, but it would be World War Two that would see the ultimate demise of the remaining trophies in Walsall and Bloxwich as it did in many other places in the country… https://wyrleyblog.wordpress.com/walsall/park-guns-and-the-reedswood-tank-walsalls-war-trophies-part-2/