Archive for the ‘Soldiers’ Category

The Newtown Bridge (Bloxwich) over the Stafford Rd has long since gone, the line of the canal, where William was found, can still be made out though towards Fishley. 2017.


This part covers the stories of Private Davill (Walsall) and Private Greenwood (Leeds), whose differing experiences open the dark side of the Cannock Chase camps in January 1916…
https://wyrleyblog.wordpress.com/cannock/october-1915-january-1916-the-dark-side-of-the-cannock-chase-camps-part-2/

Thomas William James’ newly erected CWGC headstone (D Royle)


We have some brilliant news. Thomas William James, a fallen WWI soldier from Great Wyrley and Brownhills, has received his Commonwealth War Grave headstone after over 100 years. Thanks to Barrie’s efforts he has now been recognised. I can’t say I am not a little proud that Wyrleyblog contributed to it. Read his story, and that of how he finally got recognition… 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/

Yeomanry occupying observation post (Walsall Local History Centre)


This article returns the Blog to the Cannock area and to the First World War period, but what turned out to be a straight-forward question actually, in my view, has opened the door on an interesting piece of general social history and has also offered a solution to a personal mystery on the Cannock war memorial… https://wyrleyblog.wordpress.com/cannock/tracing-a-cannock-tommy-the-thomas-bradley-williams-story/

The Cross Keys, Hednesford, where Freddie attended the John Wesley lodge of the RAOB not long after the picture was taken. (HeathHaysHistory)

The title to this story is a little bit different and I am sure the mind is boggling as to just how a man, a war, a harp and a monkey could all fit together. Well, the first link is easy: the search for the man, Frederick George Wray, started with a bit of a mystery that arose from the war memorial in Hednesford. What happened then was that the mystery was partly solved through a moment of serendipity, however, the answer that moment of serendipity provided only served to take the story on – and to try to answer a question posed by a harp and a monkey! Confused? I will explain… https://wyrleyblog.wordpress.com/cannock/a-man-a-war-a-harp-and-a-monkey-the-frederick-wray-story/

2 Heath Street, Hednesford.Home of the Rushtons and scene of the tragic fire. 2016.

2 Heath Street, Hednesford.Home of the Rushtons and scene of the tragic fire. 2016.


Rushton seems the ideal patriot: he was a volunteer that joined-up in 1914, getting himself passed as fit to serve despite there being evidence that suggests he was not. While training, his family went through a trauma which left him, understandably, petitioning the officer-in-charge to be able to go home. That permission was refused… https://wyrleyblog.wordpress.com/cannock/ernest-rushton-of-hednesford-crying-wolf/

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.

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/