Ernest James Saunders


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Ernest James Saunders was born in Portobello in 1893, the son of James and Louisa Saunders. By 1901, the family were living at 48 Great Hampton Street, and the household consisted of Ernest and his parents, as well as his brothers, Edward and Percy, sisters Eva and Maud, and a visitor, Edward Smith. James Saunders was a file cutter. At some point, James Saunders presumably died, or perhaps the couple got divorced, but I have found no record of this. Either way, Louisa Saunders remarried to an Alfred Price in 1917.

Ernest James Saunders enlisted with the Leicestershire Regiment (number 18457). On 20 May 1916, his name appeared in the Express & Star under “Midland Men in Casualty Lists” as wounded. However, he clearly recovered and transferred to the Sherwood Foresters, as there is another small item in the “Local & District News” of the Express & Star on 7 May 1918, which reads as follows:

Mrs. Price, 319, Newhampton road West, Wolverhampton, received news today (Tuesday) that her son, Private Ernest James Saunders, Sherwood Foresters, is reported missing. The private was at the relief of Kut, and afterwards went to France.

I have not been able to find a death record for Saunders on the Commonwealth War Graves Commision site, or a prisoner of war record, so presumably he was found. There is an Ernest Saunders who marries an Olive W. Willett in Wolverhampton in 1920, and they go on to have a daughter, Dorothy, in 1922. It is possible that this is the man in question.

Harold and Stephen Brown


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Under the “Local and District News” in the Express & Star on 7 May 1918, there is a small item that states the following:

Mrs E. Brown, 26, St. John’s square, Wolverhampton, has received official intimation that her two sons, Private H. C. Brown and Private S. B. Brown, have been gassed and are in hospital.

No further details are provided in the item, and there is no follow-up in the newspaper in the days and weeks following. However, I have been able to find out a bit more about both men.

These individuals are Harold Charles Brown (born in Wolverhampton in 1894) and Stephen Bertram Brown (born in Wolverhampton in 1897). Harold enlisted with the Royal Army Medical Corps (number 421075). I have not been able to confirm details of which regiment Stephen served with.

However, both men did survive the First World War. Stephen married Marjorie C. G. Caldicott in 1920, and the couple went on to have three children – Stephen, Jacqueline and Edwina – between 1920 and 1929. Harold married Minnie Lett in 1922, and they had two children – Raymond and Mavis – between 1923 and 1927. Stephen died in 1960 at the age of 62, and Harold died in 1962 at the age of 68.

Isaiah Harold Colley


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Like his brother, James, Isaiah Harold Colley also served with the 1st/3rd (North Midland) Field Ambulance in the Royal Army Medical Corps. He was born in Wolverhampton in 1896, so was 4 years old by the time he appeared on the 1901 census with his family at 23 Middle Vauxhall, Tettenhall.

Isaiah was killed on 1 July 1916. However, it appears from the working copies of the Grave Registration Documents on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission site that his body was not immediately identified. Although it has been cross out in pen and his name entered above, the initial typed entry simple has “Unknown (I. H. C. on Respirator)”. He is commemorated at Foncquevillers Military Cemetery in France. He also appears on the Compton Road memorial, the Cable Street Mills memorial, and the Royal Army Medical Corps memorial in St Peter’s Church.

James Reginald Colley


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James Reginald Colley was born in Wolverhampton in 1895, the son of Isaiah and Ada Emma Colley (nee Blackford). On the 1901 census, the family are living at 23 Middle Vauxhall, Tettenhall, and James appears with his younger brother Isaiah and sister Florence.

Before the war, James worked for Mander Brothers Ltd. He enlisted with the Royal Army Medical Corps (1/3 North Midland Field Ambulance). He was killed on 27 June 1917, and is commemorated at the Loos British Cemetery in France. More locally, he is commemorated on the Compton Road memorial, the Cable Street Mills memorial, the Royal Army Medical Corps memorial in St Peter’s Church and, of course, the Mander Brothers memorial.

William O’Connell


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Express & Star, 8 Sep 1915

Express & Star, 8 Sep 1915

William O’Connell was born in 1874 in West Ashford (Kent), the son of sergeant-instructor Daniel O’Connell of Wednesbury, formerly of the West Kent Regiment.

William himself first served in the West Kent Regiment and during the Boer War he was in one of the Royal Garrison Regiments. His grandfather and brother were also in the West Kent Regiment and, according to an Express & Star article, “the family has an unbroken connection with that regiment for over a century.”

He married and had three sons, and the family moved to 6 Freeman Street, Heath Town. William served in the National Reserve under Colonel McBean, and “was specially selected as one of the instructors in the New Army.” As a member of the 7th Battalion in the South Staffordshire Regiment, he was killed on the 9 August 1915, and is commemorated on the Helles Memorial in Turkey.

Joseph Butler


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As mentioned yesterday, Private Joseph Butler was killed on 8 August 1915, alongside his friend and colleague from Mander Brothers, Frederick Bradley.

However, we have very little information about Butler. It is presumed that he was about the same age as Frederick Bradley, so he is probably the Joseph Butler whose birth is registered in Wolverhampton in the June quarter of 1894. Like Bradley, he served in the 7th Battalion of the South Staffordshire Regiment. The Express & Star article states that he lived at Hart’s Road, Wednesfield so, like Bradley, he is commemorated on the Wednesfield Village Roll of Honour and the Mander Brothers memorial.

But his entry on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission site contains very little information, so if anybody can fill out more details, please get in touch!

Frederick Bradley


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Express & Star, 8 Sep 1915

Express & Star, 8 Sep 1915

Frederick Bradley was born in about 1893, the son of James and Annie Bradley. In the 1901 census, the family were living at 95 New Street, Wednesfield, and Frederick and his parents were joined by his brothers Arthur and William and sister Florence.

Frederick worked for Mander Brothers, and when the war broke out he signed up with the 7th Battalion of the South Staffordshire Regiment (number 9909). Unfortunately, he was killed in action on 8 August 1915, alongside his friend and colleague, Joseph Butler. Both Bradley and Butler had worked in the same shop at Mander Brothers, enlisted together, were cot-mates, and served in the same platoon.

By the time of Bradley’s death, his parents lived at 25 Hickman Street, Wednesfield. As well as being commemorated on the Helles Memorial in Turkey, he is remembered on the Wednesfield Village Roll of Honour and the Mander Brothers memorial.

Three Serbian Songs


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The composer, Ernest Derby, published a collection of music, entitled “Three Serbian Songs”, in 1916. The titles of the individual pieces – “Lado”, “The Defender” and “The Plum Tree” – are based on Serbian poems, and the music is dedicated to the People of Serbia. Plums are the floral emblem and national fruit of Serbia, and plum brandy (“Šljivovica“) is Serbia’s national drink.

The lyrics to the musics were written by Kineton Parkes, Ernest Darby’s brother-in-law. Together with his wife, Florence, Ernest had set up the Wolverhampton School of Music, initially based in Darlington Street, and later moving to 27 Chapel Ash.

The outbreak of the First World War meant that the School of Music scaled back their activities, and Darby became a Special Constable. But he was clearly still composing, and this piece was one of his outputs during this period. It is believed that he wanted to honour the Serbian people because of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria in Sarajevo, which triggered the outbreak of the First World War.

More details about these songs, and about Ernest Derby, have been written up by Phil Jones.

Percy James Turner


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At our recent Local History Fair, we received a deposit of material concerning the local firms Chubb & Sons Co. Ltd. and Bayliss, Jones & Bayliss. In amongst this material are some items concerning Percy Turner’s activities during the First World War.



Percy Turner was born on 17 December 1887. He became a safemaker and safe fitter for Chubb & Sons, travelling round the country installing safes. He started working for Chubb in London until the London safe works moved to Wednesfield Road in 1908 and he transferred to Wolverhampton with many other London employees. He married Ellen Emma Rogers (Nellie) in 1911. During the First World War he was redirected to Rubery Owen for Essential War Work.


Because of Percy’s contribution to the war effort, he was excused from military service. His certificates documenting this can be found in the collection. Initially, on 25 June 1915, he was issued with a certificate confirming his status as a “War Munition Volunteer”. This signified that he was engaged on essential war work. In December 1915, he “attested” under the “Derby Scheme”. Named after Edward Stanley, the 17th Earl of Derby, this Scheme was introduced in October 1915 and gave men between the ages of 18 and 40 the option of either enlisting voluntarily or attesting. To attest meant that they were deferring active service, but had an obligation to come if called up later on.




By 13 March 1917, however, he was issued with a Military Exemption Certificate and a War Badge, indicating that, although he was not in uniform he, too, was serving the war effort through his work on the home front.



After the War, he returned to his work with Chubb. While working there he got grit in his eyes and suffered from it all of his life, receiving some very early contact lenses just after the Second World War. He died in 1963.

Elizabeth Ann Addison


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This post has been prepared by one of our volunteers, Ann Eales.


Mrs Elizabeth Ann Addison appears on the Red Cross website with the following details:

Forename: Elizabeth Ann

Surname: Addison

Address: 3a Worcester Cottages, Shaw Rd., Bushbury,

Date of engagement:11/1915

Date of termination:02/1919

Particulars of duties: Garments made.

Whole or part time: Home Worker

Additional information: Bushbury Working Party. Reg. No.1448.

Commission: Staffs

Certificate no: N/A

Honours awarded: V.W. Badge

Further details about her work for the Bushbury Working Party Registered Number 1448 have not come to light. It would be interesting to know if she was paid, as she was widowed in 1913, and had a family to bring up. I think that she must have been, to enable her and her family to survive.

The marriage of an Elizabeth Ann Wolverson to Ernest Arthur Addison is recorded at Wolverhampton in the quarter ended December 1992, and this would appear to be the same woman.

Elizabeth A Addison age 31 appears on the 1901 Census at South Street Bushbury, born at Stafford Wolverhampton, living with her husband, also age 31 and an Electrical Worker, also born at Stafford Wolverhampton, and their 3 children, all born at Stafford Wolverhampton, Elizabeth A age 7, Edith A age 6, and Elsie A age 2. Also included in the household are Charlotte Addison, born at Wednesbury, Mother of Ernest Arthur, a widow age 75, Charlotte L Addison born at West Bromwich age 45 Ernest’s sister reported to have been deaf and dumb from childhood, Albert L, Ernest’s brother, a widower age 37 and also an Electric Worker, born at Wolverhampton and Clara age 12, Alice B age 9 and William age 8 all born at Wolverhampton and the nieces/nephew of Ernest. With 11 people living there, it was a large household.

Elizabeth Ann Addison age 41 appears on the 1911 Census, born at Bushbury, living at 8 Showell Road Bushbury, with her husband Ernest Arthur, also age 41 and an Electrical Wire Runner, born in Wolverhampton, and their 4 children, all born at Bushbury, Elsie Adelaide age 12, Albert Edward age 6, Ivy age 3 and William age 1. Also recorded is that they had been married 18 years, and that there had been 8 children born to the couple, 2 of whom had died.

The death of Elizabeth Ann’s husband E A Addison at the age of 43, was registered at Cannock in the quarter ended March 1913. Elizabeth Ann Addison died at the age of 86 in Wolverhampton, as recorded in the quarter ended September 1956.


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