Bilston Rationing Scheme

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Because of the naval blockade in 1917, rationing of sugar, and later meat, butter, cheese and margarine was introduced in 1918. At Wolverhampton Archives we have a file of material around the Bilston Rationing Scheme, including application forms and posters.

Maximum prices

Maximum prices

The Bilston Food Office issued a circular to shopkeeperson 4 February 1918, granting them a Certificate of Registration under the Bilston Scheme for Rationing Tea, Butter & Margarine, and giving them instructions about what they could accept. Suppliers could accept customer cards from the whole Wolverhamption area rationing scheme, including Wolverhampton, Heath Town, Tettenhall, Wednesfield, Sedgley, Seisdon and Coseley, as long as the customers had been “regular customers up to the present”.

Registration of new ration books

Registration of new ration books

Other material includes a circular, dated 14 March 1918, stating the “heavy workers” are entitled to supplementary meat, as long as they fill out the relevant form. A month later, supplementary rations were available for boys aged 13 to 18, as long as they were not already possessing supplementary rations for heavy workers.

Condensed Milk for Infant Feeding

Condensed Milk for Infant Feeding

Householders were also encouraged to “make their own bread and bake it at their homes where possible”, as “the Master Bakers in the Town are endeavouring to Bake as much Bread as possible.” Tea, Butter and Margarine could only be sold from Wednesday until Saturday, as they could not be supplied on the other days. In weeks where the shortages were greater, shopkeepers were instructed to divide their supplies equally between their registered customers, even when they were unable to give the full ration.

 

Harold Edwards

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Harold Edwards was the son of Silas and Jane Edwards (nee Southan), and was born on 12 September 1895. By the 1901 census Harold was living with his parents at 19 Wolverhampton Street, Bilston, together with his brothers Enoch, James, George and Charles, and sister Florence. By the 1911 census the household had moved to 24 Dudley Street, Bilston, and Harold, now a labourer, was the only child still living with his parents. The household were joined by boarder, Stephen Walker.

According to details in J. C. J. Elsom’s Honours and Awards: The South Staffordshire Regiment 1914-1918, he was employed at Sankey & Sons in Bilston prior to the War. He enlisted into the 1st Battalion of the South Staffordshire Regiment (number 9600). He served as a stretcher bearer, and was wounded on 26 September 1915 but refused attention until he had dealt with the casualties. He was awareded the Distinguished Conduct Medal as well as the French Croix de Guerre. The severity of his injuries meant that he was no longer fit for further active service. The citation for his DCM is as follows:

For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty on the 26th September 1915, near Hlluch, Private Edwards, acting as stretcher bearer, while dressing a wounded man under heavy fire during the attack on the German trenches, was severely wounded, and although several men offered to help him in his work, he refused to allow this, or to be attended himself. Having finished his work, he walked over, in full view of the enemy and attended another wounded man, when he was struck by another bullet, and fell wounded a second time. He gave a fine exhibition of the highest courage and disregard of personal danger.

After the war, Harold married, and the couple went on to have two children, Harold and Gwen. Harold died in 1970.

Wednesfield Urban District Council during the First World War

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The majority of the First World War period appears in the sixth minute book of Wednesfied Urban District Council (Dec 1912 – February 1918).

In common with Wolverhampton and Tettenhall Councils, Wednesfield was also concerned with employing new Special Constables to replace those police officers who had enlisted in the Army. On 17 August 1914, the Council resolved to put a notice “on the door of the Council office” asking for suitable men. By 28 February 1916, the Council received a circular from the Stafford Police concerning steps to be taken “to warn the District in the event of Air Raids.” It was agreed that the Surveyor would make arrangements with one of the local works to use a hooter to warn of air raids. This information would be produced as a hand bill for members of the public. But by 11 September 1916, a communication from the County Chief Constable states that “no warnings of approaching enemy aircraft will be given from the Telephone Exchange or the Police except on conditions that no sound alarms of any sort are to be allowed.”

The Council also supported the effort to raise funds for the “relief of distress caused by the War. A County meeting at Stafford, which was referred to in the minutes of 17 August 1914, had resolved that money would be paid into the Prince of Wales’s Fund, through the Chairman of the Urban District Council, with “all needy cases [being] relieved from this Fund.” Mention was also made on 9 November 1914 of Belgian refugees, although nothing was resolved.

The Council was also keen to support its employees and their families. On 12 October 1914,

it was unanimously resolved that the Council pay Mrs Evans, wife of one of their employe’s [sic] who had gone to the War, such a sum not exceeding ten shillings per week from the time he went until further resolved by the Council as will with what she is receiving from other sources make up the sum of One pound per week.

On 9 October 1916, the Council received an application under the War Charities Act 1916 for a small sum of between £10 and £15 for “the benefit of Joe and Fred Ball who had received serious injuries in the War.” The Council’s motor tractor driver, Edgar Sutton, asked on 8 November 1915, to be released from his role so that he could enlist, but they resolved that, as he was “engaged principally in removing night soil and other sanitary work and no other driver being available”, they could not spare him. Similarly when the Surveyor and Inspector reported on 6 November 1916 that he had been called up for military service, the Council resolved “that his services are absolultely indispensable and that he be furnished with a copy of this resolution if necessary.”

On 4 January 1915 it was resolved that the Chairman, S. Sidebotham, be appointed the Council’s representative on the District Committee of the Wolverhampton (Outer) Recruiting District Committee of the Staffordshire Territorial Force Association. Recruitment and enlistment was also addressed in the meeting on 19 July 1915, when the Clerk drew attention to the National Registration Act 1915 “and pointed out the duties of the Council thereunder.” He suggested dividing the District into four sub-districts corresponding with the polling stations at elections, so that the names and addresses of men in each sub-district could be gathered. The Council had to bring on extra staff to compile the Register, and there were discussions around accommodation and furniture for these staff. By 13 September 1915, the work had been completed. By 8 November 1915, the Council appointed the members of the Local Tribunal to decide recruiting questions, with Mr Beech, Kiteley, Roberts, Sidebotham and Smith constituting the committee.

Other issues that are touched upon throughout this period is the growing of food locally, and the arrangements for recognising those men who have received honours during the War.

Gallant Ettingshall Officer Wounded

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Article in the Express & Star 11 April 1918

Article in the Express & Star 11 April 1918

This report appeared in the Express & Star on 11 April 1918, about Captain J. A. Pinnegar, M. C., Rifle Brigade, stating that he was “wounded and missing”. He was the son of Mr and Mrs Thomas Pinnegar of Frost Street, Ettingshall. The couple were informed by the Commanding Officer of the battalion that “your son is a prisoner in the hands of the Germans; he was also wounded.”

John Arthur Pinnegar was born in Wolverhampton in 1890. He appears in the 1891 census at Frost Street, together with his parents Thomas and Alice, his five brothers (William, Frank, Percy, Frederick and Walter) and two sisters, Beatrice and Amy. By 1901 they are registered at 27 Frost Street, with Frank, Percy, Frederick, Walter and Amy still living there, along with an additional daughter, Edith. John attended the Higher Grade School, and then worked at Briton Motor Works. In 1911 they are at 22 Frost Street and John is listed as an Under Manager. His brothers Frank and Percy, and sisters Amy and Edith, are still living with the family.

In 1914, Pinnegar was mobilised as a motor transport driver in the A. S. C. and became a holder of the Mons Star. In 1917 he received a commission in the 16th Battalion of the Rifle Brigade, and was later slightly wounded, when he won his Military Cross. In his letter, the Commanding Officer of the battalion consoles the couple by adding that “at the end of the war, which is now not far distant, he will return safe and sound.” Unfortunately, his words did not hold true. By the time this article appeared, Captain Pinnegar was already dead, as he had died on 23 March 1918. He is commemorated on the Poizieres Memorial in France.

Two Youths Fined in Wolverhampton for Obstructing the Military

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Obstructing the Military, 10 August 1914

Obstructing the Military, 10 August 1914

Cecil Newman, of 10 Oxley Street, and Arthur Fones, of 21, Red Cross Street appeared at Wolverhampton Police Court on 10 August 1914, charged with “obstructing the millitary force in the execution of their duty, and of being drunk and disorderly”. A Sergeant B. Wells, of the B Company, 6th Battalion South Staffordshire Regiment, alleged that, on the previous night, he had been getting members of the company into their billets in Red Cross Street Street, when the two young men went up and obstructed him. He ordered them away, but they used foul language, so the guard was called out and they were arrested. This incident had also been witnessed by Private P. Hitchin and Bugler W. G. Smith.

Fones, in turn, complained that his hands had been tied to the railings and he had been gagged, but the Magistrates’ Clerk reminded him that “the military had rights he was not aware of”. The prisoners were fined 10 shillings and costs each, and were informed that such conduct would not be tolerated. The Chairman, Alderman Gibbons, stated that “The military are doing their duty in a noble way, and we will not have them interfered with in any shape or form.”

Cecil Newman was born in Wolverhampton in 1891, so was therefore aged 23 by this date. In 1891 he was living at Waterloo Road, together with his parents, Charles and Betsey, brothers (William, Edward, Frederic and Harold) and sisters (Ethel, Maria and Minnie). By 1901 the household had moved to 42 Oxley Lane, and only six children remained. The 1911 census has a different address again, 18 Hughes Street, and only four children are still living with their parents. Cecil Newman is listed as an “Odd Jobber”. He may have enlisted in the army, but as there are a number of Cecil Newmans, it is difficult to pin him down. Either way, he appears to have survived the War, as there is a Cecil Newman of about the right age who died in Wolverhampton in 1942.

Arthur Fones was born in Wolverhampton in 1894, so he was 20 years old by the time of this incident. In the 1901 census he was living with his grandmother, already at 21 Red Cross Street, along with his uncle Arthur Judson and aunts, Beatrice and Charlotte. He was living at the same address in the 1911 census, but was now listed as an Assistant Cooper. He does not appear to have enlisted for military service. He married a Lilian Tomlinson in 1921, and the couple had two children, Arthur and Douglas. He died in 1936, aged 41.

Isaac Leonard Williams

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One of our followers has drawn our attention to her great-uncle, Isaac Leonard Williams, known as Len.

Williams was born in Wolverhampton in 1893, the son of Isaac and Harriet Williams (nee Corns). By the 1901 census he was living at Walsall Street, together with his parents and his older brother, William. His father, Isaac, was a sheet mill worker.

Killed in Action, Express & Star 17 Aug 1916

Killed in Action, Express & Star 17 Aug 1916

Williams enlisted in the 2nd Battalion of the South Staffordshire Regiment (number 9152) in 1912. When the War broke out, the Battalion was mobilised and posted to Europe. Williams was first wounded in June 1915, but recovered. He was killed in action on 29 July 1916 in Delville Wood, France, and he is buried at Gordon Dump Cemetery, Ovillers-La Boisselle, in France. Notice of his death was posted in the Express & Star on 17 August 1916.

He was posthumously awarded the Military Medal, details of which appeared in the London Gazette on 19 February 1917. Further details about this man, in particular the probable background to his Military Medal, can be found on this family history website.

 

Wolverhampton Council Minutes and Reports

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During the course of the War, Wolverhampton Council dealt with various matters that were affected by the War.

Already on 7 August 1914, the Parks & Baths Committee resolved to place the Municipal Swimming Baths “at the disposal of the Red Cross for wounded soldiers and sailors who may be sent to Wolverhampton for treatment” (subject to 24 hours’ notice). Similar assistance is provided by local parks, who offer areas of the park “to grow vegetables or hay and to use the hothouses to grow tomatoes” on 8 January 1917.

Matters dealt with include the shortages of provisions, and on 12 March 1915, the Mayor, Councillor Albert Baldwin Bantock, announced that “following the King’s example, he is renouncing the consumption of alcohol in his household until the end of the war.” In view of the shortages, there is also a proposal that the embargo on the importation of Canadian cattle into Great Britain is lifted.

There is a recurring discussion about the shortage of Council workers due to staff joining the Army. For example, on 9 November 1915, the Free Library Committee reports that four library staff have joined the forces “and young ladies have been engaged as temporary assistants, no suitable male assistants being available.” There is a report from the Education Committee, stating the 2 head teachers and 22 assistants have signed up to the armed forces, with two female assistants “engaged as Red Cross Nurses in military hospitals.” Finally the General Purposes Committee reports that 252 members of the clerical staff “and employees of various departments” are also on active service. The fact that all of these reports are made on the same day indicates the scale of the issue.

As is usual during war time, there is a suspicion of enemy activity and enemy presence. Already on 19 October 1914, the Chief Constable reported that, “In accordance with instructions from the War Office the fingerprints of Germans and Austrians resident in the town have been taken.” Following the local Zeppelin raids, on 14 February 1916 the Council feels that “someone must have given guidance to enemy aircraft that visited last week”, and recommends that the Government should “intern all persons of alien enemy birth whether naturalised or not.”

George Henry Adams

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George Adams was born in 1898, the son of Alfred and Emma Jane (nee Wetton) Adams. His father was a motor car packer, and his mother a colour stover at a japanning works. In the 1901 census, George appears at the back of 89 Great Brickkiln Street, together with his parents, sister Emma, brother Edwin, and aunt Lizzie Wetton. By 1911 the family have moved to 80 Merridale Street West, and the household has been joined by Emma Jane’s mother, as well as two of George’s cousins, Nellie and Emma Wetton.

Prior to joining the army, George worked as a Coach trimmer. On 26 June 1917, George enlisted with the 8th Battalion of the South Staffordshire Regiment (number 5/43713), by which stage his address was given as 53 Russell Street. However, by 30 August the same year, he was discharged as “no longer physically fit for war Service”, due to his epilepsy (“not due to active service”). In October, he wrote a letter to request a Silver war badge, as proof that he was discharged by a Military invalid board, stating that “I am attending the doctor now owing to my complaint as I am not fit for work nor never shall be. hoping this letter will succeed please oblige.” Eventually, he was issued with a Silver War Badge in September 1919.

After the War, he married Alice New in 1922, and they went on to have six children between 1925 and 1936: Gertrude, George, Percy, Gladys, Dennis and Richard. George died aged 58 in June 1956.

Wolverhampton Recruiting Sub-Committee for Graiseley and St John’s Ward

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As well as the general running of Wolverhampton Council, specific committees were set up to deal with War-related matters. Not all of these records have survived, but one that has it that of the Recruiting Sub-Committee for Graiseley and St John’s Ward.

Meetings of the Committee were held at the Town Hall, and it was chaired alternately by the Mayor, Alderman Bantock, or one of the local MPs, Alderman Thorne. This Committee appears to have only met three times between November and December 1914. Perhaps it was superceded by the main/central Recruiting Committee?

At the first meeting on 23 November 1914, the discussion centred around the appointment of a Chairman and an Honorary Secretary, although the former had already resigned his position by the next meeting on 1 December. Other issues discussed at this second meeting were the arrangements for a public meeting, presumably to encourage recruitment, to be held either at St John’s School in Cleveland Street, or at Dudley Road Schools. The Committee had also received a letter from a Mr George Green offering assistance from the Boy Scouts Band.

The final meeting is the public meeting, at St John’s School, as mentioned above, when about 100 people attended. The meeting was address by Alderman Thorne MP and Councillor Myatt. Cards to indicate “willingness to enlist” were handed out, and four of these were completed and returned at the meeting. The remaining cards were to be forwarded to the “proper quarter”. As there are no further meetings recorded of this Sub-Committee, it is not clear how successful these cards proved to be.

 

Frank Andrews

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The research for this blog posting has been prepared by one of our volunteers, Ann Eales.

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J. C. J. Elson’s Honours and Awards: The South Staffordshire Regiment 1914-1918 refers simply to an F. Andrews, a Private in the 7th Battalion South Staffordshire Regiment (number 11869) who was awarded the Military Medal in 1917. This information stems from the notice printed in the London Gazette on 16 November 1917.

The information which appears on the Medal Card shows that his name was Frank, and that he went on to become a Lance Corporal in the Leicestershire Regiment, number 52020. The card also shows that the Theatre of War that he first served in was 2B, which would apparently have been Gallipoli, and the date of entry there was 20 October 1915. The card also has “Disc” under remarks, showing he survived the war and was discharged. His name appears on the Leicestershire Regiment’s website but they have with no more information that is shown on the medal card.

Records located on the freebmd website for a Frank Andrews in Wolverhampton, have a birth registered in the quarter ended December 1895, and a marriage to Alice Smith in the quarter ended December 1919. There is a death in the quarter ended March 1941 for a Frank Andrews aged 46. If as seems probable, this is the Frank Andrews under consideration, did he die from injuries sustained in the war?

On the 1901 census, at the age of 6, Frank Andrews was living at 27 Montrose Street, with his father Albert Alexander Andrews who was a Journeyman Carpenter born in Cambridge, and his mother Martha Andrews born in Bilston and 9 siblings Emma, Albert, Thomas, Charles, John, Arthur, Alexander, Annie and Fred. In 1911 the census shows Frank still living at 27 Montrose Street age 16 and working as a porter at a Clothing Maker. His father, age 56 is a carpenter.

His name appears on a website article “Staffordshire’s Territorials and the Assault on the Hohenzollern Redoubt 13th October 1915“.

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