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.

Laurence Samuel Albiston

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Laurence Samuel Albiston

Laurence Samuel Albiston

The son of Albert and Maria (nee Bottley) Albiston, Laurence’s birth is registered in the March quarter of 1898 in Wolverhampton. Laurence’s mother Maria died shortly afterwards on 8 May in hospital, and Laurence and his brother Albert went to live with their aunt and uncle. A toolmaker, Laurence was listed in the 1901 census as living with his aunt and uncle William and Fanny Piddock at 16 Chester Street. By 1911, the household had moved to 91 Bright Street, Wolverhampton.

Laurence enlisted on 6 February 1916 and was posted to the Royal Army Service Corps at Woolwich, Regiment number 334073. On 19 May 1917 he was transferred to Grove Park. His military records have survived but are difficult to read. He fought in Belgium and France and, other than a bout of gastralgia (abdominal pain) in June 1918, he appears to have survived unscathed. He obtained the General Service and Victory Medals, and was demobilised in June 1919.

After the war, Laurence was demobbed 4 May 1919. He later married Florence Ada Perks in Bromsgrove in 1925, and they had a daughter Lorna born in Bilston in 1932. He died on 21 March 1960, aged 62 years. His address at the time of his death was Wayside, Blakeley Green, Wolverhampton.

John Thompson (Triumph Stoker) Ltd

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A boiler on the back of a lorry at the works of John Thompson Motor Pressings, early 20th century.

A boiler on the back of a lorry at the works of John Thompson Motor Pressings, early 20th century.

We featured John Thompson boiler-makers, of Ettingshall, in a previous blog post in March 2013. We have a large collection of records for this company, and their subsidiaries, although there is very little First World War material.

One item which does cover the War period is the Minute book of one of the subsidiary companies, Triumph Stoker Ltd, of 85 Kirkstall Road, Leeds. This company made mechanical stokers for shell boilers.

At first glance, there is very little information contained within this volume, as it appears to be an annual meeting of the Directors of the Company. The only reference to the War is on 18 January 1917, when it was

Resolved that application be made in the name of the Company for fully paid allotment of £500 five per cent War Loan 1929-1947 and a cheque for the sum of £475 – 0 – 0, being the amount required in payment for the same, be forthwith made out and signed.

However, the minutes clearly indicate that business was booming, presumably as a result of the War. The annual bonus awarded to each of the Directors out of the profits made in the previous year rose from £65 in April 1916 to a massive £150 the following two years, a 46% increase!

A soldier with many decorations

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The Express & Star article about CSM F. Webb

The Express & Star article about CSM F. Webb

An article in the Express & Staron 13 December 1918 described Company Sergeant-major F. Webb as a “record holder” with regard to medals, although it does not go on to state what record he holds. The article states that he earned the Mons Star and ribbon in 1914, and was awarded the Belgian Croix de Guerre in 1917. He later served in Italy where he was awarded the Military Medal and the Italian Croce de Guerra.

The notice of his Belgian medal in The Edinburgh Gazette gives us his first name as Frederick, as well as his regiment number as 7851. However, there were a number of Frederick and Fred Webbs who were born in the Wolverhampton area in the 1870s and 1880s. The only other information in the article is the fact that he resided at 10 St Mary’s Terrace, Wolverhampton. A brief check of the 1901 census indicates he was not at this address then, so the trail goes cold, as we are unable to verify further details, such as those of his parents or any siblings etc. If anybody has any further information about this man, we would love to hear it!

Harold Joseph Beech

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Harold Beech

Harold Beech

Harold Beech was born in Wolverhampton in 1894, he was the son of Joseph and Rose Beech and in 1901 the family were living at No. 68 Dudley Road, Wolverhampton. Harold was the second child, having one elder sister, Lilian, and one younger brother, Bernard. On the 1901 census Joseph is stated to be a Hardware Shopkeeper.

On the 1911 census the family are living at No. 1 Merridale Street, Wolverhampton, the house is stated to have 11 rooms and Joseph is a General Hardware Dealer. Rose, his wife, is now a Wardrobe Dealer. The family has been increased to include a further two children, Marion and Kathleen. Harold was a Boot Maker, employed at Craddock Brothers, and Lilian was assisting in Business.

Harold enlisted in the army on 23 November 1912 in Wolverhampton, into the 2nd Royal Scots Guards. He had previously been in the Territorial Army in Wolverhampton, and he was sent for training to Glencorse Barracks in Scotland. On 10 August 1914 Harold then departed for France. No details of his service remain, but he was killed on 28 January 1915 in action near Kimmel. His death was reported in the Express and Star on 8 February that year.

Harold’s Sergeant Major said that he was always ready to do his duty for his country and had been involved in several engagements, one of which unfortunately resulted in his death. He was 20 years old. A simple cross marks his grave, and he is inscribed on the Wolverhampton Roll of Honour.

Harold was awarded the Victory Medal, the British Medal and the 14 star.

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