Updates to various posts

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We have been having a phenomenal response to our blog postings recently, with many of you providing updates and further information about some of the individuals featured. Here is a round-up of the details:

  • Harold Joseph Beech served with the 2nd Battalion, The Royal Scots (The Royal Regiment), not the Royal Scots Guards as stated in the post. He died near Kemmel. 
  • Joseph Downing joined the Staffordshire Regiment on 2 October 1911. He was discharged on 7 April 1917 with sickness with silver war badge number 44239. It also appears that the Joseph Langley Downing featured in the post was not, in fact, the relative of the original enquirer, as the death dates were different.
  • It is likely that Joseph Glaze was wounded in action on the front line near Grandcourt. Two men from the 7th Battalion were wounded on 15 December 1916, with 13 casualties the following day. On 17 December they returned to brigade reserve at Englebelmer. This is taken from the History of the seventh South Staffs Regt edited by Major A H Ashcroft.
  • One of our volunteers recognised the Ash View address of Annie Lloyd. The Lloyd family appeared in the 1911 census living at Ash View, the Scotlands. Annie was 16, living with her father James, a “Vermin Steel Trapmaker”, mother Selina and brother Alfred (14). There are four other households that have Ash View as their address in these returns, so it was possibly a terrace of houses. It seems that the address could be on the Cannock Road, but there are not many houses around so the returns cover quite a wide area. He looked through other nearby returns to see if there was a Horace anywhere close but no luck on that. 
  • One of our readers was very interested in the story of Jack Reading Caswell. 30 years ago she had bought a large framed collection from a London antique shop containing J R Caswell’s medals, the Wolverhampton memorial scroll & the letter from the King. She has offered to send us a photograph which we can add to our collections. At the time she wrote to his old battalion for a brief record of his war & visited his grave in France.

We welcome all additions and updates to information we have already posted, so please get in touch if you can help with fleshing out some of the details!

Edward Charles Christian

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Wandering down Church Road with my eight-year-old son during the Easter holidays, we decided to take a look at the war memorial opposite St Philip’s Church in Penn. Further details of this and other war memorials in the area are on Doug Lewis’s excellent website. I found the war memorial a useful trigger to discuss the issue, given that most of my son’s knowledge of the First World War up to now has come from the Horrible Histories books.

One name on the memorial was that of Captain Edward Charles Christian. The information on the Wolverhampton War Memorials site, which was corroborated by the site of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission was as follows:

7th Btn South Staffordshire Regiment. Killed in Action 11 September 1916 aged 21.Son of Mr E.H and Mrs C.H.Christian,
of 82 Church Rd Bradmore, Wolverhampton.Native of the Isle of Man.
Grave Reference:F.69. AVELUY COMMUNAL CEMETERY EXTENSION

A search of ManxBMD confirms his origins, with the birth of an Edward Charles Christian being registered in the District of Patrick in 1895. The son of Edward Henry Christian and Charlotte Henrietta Hely, he appears to have been linked with members of the peerage. The circumstances surrounding the family’s move from the Isle of Man are unclear, but certainly by the 1911 census they are listed in Wolverhampton.

Having fought in Gallipoli and Egypt, the 7th Battalion of the South Staffordshire Regiment moved to France in July 1916. They fought on the front line at the Somme, being involved in the capture of the Wundt-Werk, The Battle of Flers-Courcelette and The Battle of Thiepval. It was during this period that Captain Christian was killed in action. This incident is recorded in Major Ashcroft’s History of the Seventh South Staffordshire Regiment, as follows:

[On] 11th September, we suffered another bitter loss. Capt. E. C. Christian, one of the oldest members of the battalion, was killed by a shell near “A” Company’s headquarters. This had been a very fine Boche battalion headquarters, and was constantly subject to fire…Capt. Christian had been doing excellent work as Intelligence Officer and the Corps Summaries at this time were often very largely a rescript of the information he and his scouts obtained. He was buried alongside Capt. Worcester in the little British cemetery at Aveluy.”

Annie Lloyd

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Envelope addressed to Miss Annie "Loydd"

Envelope addressed to Miss Annie “Loydd”

In the case of Annie Lloyd or Loydd we do not even have the surname of her soldier correspondent. Signing himself as “Horace”, he wrote to her at Ash View, The Scotlands, Cannock Road, at least twice during the First World War.

Undated letter from Horace to Annie

Undated letter from Horace to Annie

In his main letter, Horace writes of life at the Front and in the trenches. He speaks of “two day heavy marching”, as he expects them to move from the East Coast to France. He apologises for not having written before, “because I always think of you Annie,” but this is tinged with sadness as “you never seemed to me to care for me at all.” Understandably because of censorship, there is little further detail in the letter.

The only other related item in this collection is a postcard which appears to be in the same handwriting, inscribed “With best wishes to Annie”. On the front of the postcard is a picture of a soldier with a girl in his arms, and the message “For King and Country.”

Postcard for Annie

Postcard for Annie

We do not have any further information about this couple, as the collection was transferred to us from Walsall Archives service, so we do not appear to have any depositor details. The postmark on the envelope is 1914, so it may be that Horace did not survive the War. Either way, the only possible marriage we have been able to find for Annie is that of an Annie M. Lloyd to a Michael Doherty, registered in December 1922. If this is the same lady as in the letters, it appears that this story did not unfortunately have a happy ending.

Joseph Langley Downing

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One of our friends on Facebook asked us whether we had any information on a Joseph Downing, of the 1st Battalion, South Staffordshire Regiment. The information he had is as follows:

Private Joseph downing 1st battalion south staffs. No 9035 I think he joined roundabout 1912 before. Going to France in 1914 with the BEF I believe he served in South Africa. He was wounded in 1916 not sure where though. Thanks

A quick search through Freebmd reveals the only likely candidate in terms of age as a Joseph Langley Downing, whose birth was registered in Wolverhampton in March 1892. This enables us to find his baptism at Wednesfield St Thomas’ Church on 10 January 1892. His parents are listed as Joseph and Maria Jane Downing, the former being a farmer, of Lichfield Road. On the 1901 census, the family are listed at 104 Lichfield Road, Wednesfield. Joseph L. Downing, aged 9, is together with his brothers George and Ernest, and his sister Mary.

According to Downing’s medal card, he left for France with the 1st Battalion of the South Staffordshire Regiment on 4 October 1914. He was discharged from the Army due to wounds or sickness on 7 April 1917, and became eligible for a Silver War Badge (SWB). Silver War Badges were authorised by King George V in September 1916 to honour all military personnel who had served at during the War, and who had been discharged because of wounds or illness. As well as honouring these individuals, the SWB also served as a symbol that the wearer had served his country and was not simply shirking their duty. Wearers of the SWB should not, therefore, have received white feathers, for example.

Downing’s death was registered in Wolverhampton in June 1949. He appears to have never married, as no likely records were found.

Sydney John Richardson

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Sydney was born on 26 December 1897 to parents John Cooper Richardson (a Foreman Filesmith) and Mary Hannah Richardson (nee McAllister), living at 54 Bright Street, Wolverhampton. He was baptised on 13 January 1898 at Christchurch in Waterloo Road. The family moved a few times, being at 58 North Road in 1901 and 36 Dunkley Street in 1911, by which stage Sydney had three brothers and a sister.

Sydney joined the Royal Army Service Corps Field Ambulance Company, enlisting on 4 March 1914 with the permission of his parents (as he was only 16 years and 2 months old). He was given the service number 1536, which was later changed to T4/243308. His service records not only give more detail about his movements (he was posted to 2/3 North Midland Field Ambulance Company, 59th Division), but also lists his offences, as follows:

Date Offence Punishment
1 May 1915 Disobeying order Loss of three days pay
24 September 1916 Playing cards in barrack room at 11.45pm 3 days C. B.
30 April 1917 Parading 30 mins late with wagon 7 days C. B.

“C. B.” in the above context means “Confined to Barracks”. This gives a little insight into the sort of man that Sydney was.

Sydney survived the war, and went on to marry Muriel Evelyn Andrews in September 1927 at St Andrews Church, Whitmore Reans. They had a daughter called Yvonne, born the following year. Sydney died on 25 February 1967, and his remains were placed in the Garden of Remembrance at Bushbury Crematorium.

George Norman Adams

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The son of George North Adams (an iron manufacturer at Mars Steelworks) and Fanny Cadman Adams (nee Harris), George was a stock-keeper and Iron Mill Manager before the outbreak of the First World War. By the 1911 census he was living with his parents and sister Elsie May at 8 Summerfield, Wolverhampton.

In 1915, he enlisted into the 6th Battalion of the South Staffordshire Regiment, rising to the rank of Captain. Having fought in France, he died 20 October 1918 at the 4th Northern General Hospital in Lincoln. According to the National Probate Calendar, he left behind effects totalling £4608 19 s. 2d. As his military records have not survived, no further details are available. Because of his surname, George’s is the first name listed on the Wolverhampton Roll of Honour.

The research for this entry came from one of our volunteers, Betty McCann.

Henry Glaze

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From the age of 18, Henry Glaze was a soldier, serving with the 2nd Shropshire Light Infantry at Shrewsbury. He enlisted 12 December 1890, number 3361. He went on to serve in South Africa, where he was awarded the South Africa Medal and 4 clasps. On 30 July 1900 he was injured in a train accident at Frederickstad and was found to be “unfit for further service”, being discharged on 14 December 1902. Little did he realise that his services would be called on again with the outbreak of the First World War…

 A Shropshire lad, Henry was born in 1870 in Claverley, to parents John Glaze (who died in 1880 and Eliza Glaze (nee Taylor). In 1904, he married Jane Brookes at Wolverhampton, and had three children, Henry, Eliza Jane and Norman, between 1904 and 1910. His wife, Jane, was admitted to Stafford Asylum on 19 September 1908 at the age of 26, so that by the 1911 census Henry was living in 9 Grove Lane, Tettenhall, with his two sons and 1 daughter, and a visitor, Nellie Davis. Davis later became the “Guardian of Infant Children” when Henry reenlisted.

On 8 January 1915, Henry enlisted in Wolverhampton with the North Staffordshire Regiment, service number 20082/35040. He was given leave to attend to his family on 5 March 1919, after the death of his eldest son due to influenza and pneumonia. He was discharged three days later, having been diagnosed with varicose veins in both legs.

The unfortunate Jane Glaze was transferred to Stafford workhouse in 1965, and transferred again to Ivy House in Cannock, and later to White Lodge in Cannock. We have been unable to find a definite date of death for her. Henry himself died in June 1934 in Wolverhampton

Infants at Fraser Street Council School, Bilston

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We have already featured entries from the school log book of the Junior portion of Fraser Street School, but we also have a book from the Infants School, covering 1909 – 1925. As with other school log books, there appears to be very little reference to the War in this book, as life is generally going on as normal.

The primary focus in the Infants school log book is around raising money for the troops, such as the following:

Date Page Number Details
8 Oct 1915 141 “On behalf of the Russians & Serbians-Hay Day 9.10.15-we have sold in this Dept 174 flags at 9 +16 at 3 = 18.6 for the fund.”
22 Dec 1915 146 “A collection was taken for our soldiers’ xmas fund, which has brought up our total collection to £1.80.”

The only other references are concerned with food rationing in the area, as the Education Committee was asking for assistance with this. In response, the school announced that it would be closed on 7th and 8th March 1918, in order to allow teachers to assist with this scheme.

Fraser Street Council School opened in April 1909, taking its pupils from Bilston Wesley Schools (Swan Bank) and St Mary’s National Schools which both closed. The senior part of this school became Etheridge Senior school in 1937.

John Badger

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John Badger

John Badger

A plumber by trade, John was born in Wolverhampton on 5 December 1890, the son of Joseph and Ann Badger (nee Stuart). According to the 1901 and 1911 censuses, he lived at 14 Riches Street with his parents and four sisters.

He enlisted on 11 November 1915 with the Royal Engineers, Service numbers 27176 and B.1512. He was transferred to the 15th Heavy Tank Battalion in January 1918. Although his military records and medal card have survived, there is little further information about his service during the First World War. He was demobilised on 12 February 1919, marrying Elsie Armstrong in 1922, with whom he had five children. He died in 1969 in Wolverhampton.

Daniel Smith Ltd

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Tool Making Shop, Daniel Smith (Wolverhampton) Ltd.

Tool Making Shop, Daniel Smith (Wolverhampton) Ltd.

With many of the companies we have featured so far on this blog, details of the effect of the War on business is sketchy speculation at best. In the case of Daniel Smith Ltd, we hold two business/works diaries kept by an employee, a Mr Ken Gadd, for the critical years 1914 and 1918.

Daniel Smith Ltd, set up in 1880 to make metal working machines, was also responsible for the invention of his famous gap rolling mill, which revolutionised the production of tools and led to a vastly increased output. During the First World War they produced for machines for aeroplane construction by the Sopwith group.  Previously at Raglan Street, the Company later relocated to Castle House in Drayton Street. In 1985, due to falling orders, they were bought out by the Rega Holdings industrial group who changed the company name to ‘Equator’. 

The diary, although it contains few specific references to the War, contains hints of the effect it is having, mostly with regards to employees being called up to serve.  For example, on 31 January 1918, “Trevitt, Wood & White [are] trying to get into the Royal Navy. Give them note of recommendation.” Two of the men have to sign to confirm that they will complete their term of apprenticeship on their return. There are also other observations, such as the fact on 4 January 1918 that the New Zealand expeditionary forces were at the Victoria Hotel in Wolverhampton.

There are some mentions of orders relating to the War, such as the following on 17 January 1918:

‘Phone from Sopwith Aviation. Wants 3 sets of clutch plates for old type of machine – R.A.F. – 3 sets of metal gear cluthes for new machine

There are various references to orders for equipment from a number of important firms, including Vickers, ECC and the Royal Aircraft Establishment to meet their military requirements. However, on occasion there are reports of incidents overseas, such as the fall of Brussels on 20 August 1914, and the Germans admitting defeat on 9 November 1918. Some incidents are closer to home, such as, on 13 April 1918, “Air Raid reported last night B’ham & Coventry.” Finally, on 11 November at 11.05 am, it is remarked that peace has been declared; “All hands cease work at noon. Works closed.”

All in all, there are virtually no references to the war, but the firm is clearly involved in war-time production and orders. In itself it is an interesting workshop diary giving day-to-day happenings (including the daily weather), arrivals and departures at the office, references to different employees and customers, letters received and occasional personal references. If nothing else, it gives us a window into what life was like at a busy firm such as this one during the war era.

This blog posting has been possible thanks to the transcription of one of our volunteers, Margaret George.

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