George Albert Dawes


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Express & Star, 22 December 1914

Express & Star, 22 December 1914

This article has been prepared by volunteer, Ann Eales.


On Tuesday 25th March 2014, the Wolverhampton WW1 Blog mentioned that volunteers had scoured the local newspapers, in particular the Express and Star for mention of First World War stories are relevant to Wolverhampton. Many of the articles discovered were duly uploaded to the WAVE Flickr page. George Albert Dawes is among the photographed men featured from August to December 1914, see copy shown here. The article explains that he died in Hospital from enteric fever.

We have now found more about him, following further research. The Commonwealth War Grave Commission website has the following information:

Rank: Private

Service No: 10645

Date of Death: 19/12/1914

Age: 23

Regiment/Service: Coldstream Guards

3rd Bn.

Grave Reference: III. B. 65.Cemetery: BOULOGNE EASTERN CEMETERY

Additional Information: Son of William and Sarah Ann Dawes, of 37, Lower Walsall St, Wolverhampton.

The only Military record for him that we can trace is his medal card.

birthGeorge’s birth was recorded at Wolverhampton in the 3rd quarter of 1891. His baptism was solemnised in the year 1891 at St Mark’s Church Wolverhampton, as recorded on Page 244 of the Baptisms Register. He was baptised by the Curate on August 6th 1891, parents William and Sarah Ann Baker were living at 58 Salop Street, and his father was recorded as a Locksmith.

At the time of the 1901 census the family was living at 26 High Street, Moseley, Heath Town, Wolverhampton. Father, William, Locksmith was age 48. The oldest children, Joseph, age 20, working as a Blacksmith’s striker, and Eva, age 12 were both born in Willenhall like their father: George and the 2 youngest children, Alfred, age 7 and Caroline, age 3, were born in Wolverhampton, like their mother Sarah, age 46.

On the 1911 census, they were shown living at 37 Lower Walsall Street. George was working as a Printing Ink Mixer at a Varnish Manufacturers, also at home are Frank (Alfred on the 1901 census) age 17 working as a Keg Cleaner also at a Varnish Manufacturers and Gladys (Caroline on the 1901 census) age 13 who is at school.

John Harold Whitfield Baker


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


Birmingham Post, 8 September 1917

Birmingham Post, 8 September 1917

Articles about John Harold Whitfield appeared in the Express & Star on 7th September and 31st December 1917. This extract is from the report which also appeared in the Saturday September 8th edition of the Birmingham Post, with the headline “Deceived the Tribunal” and “£100 fine on individual at Wolverhampton.”

Chief Constable 1The extract from the Chief Constable’s Records held at Wolverhampton Archives, show that a Special Court was held at 2pm on Friday September 7th 1917, when Baker was charged before Captain Dibben with 4 Offences of Making False Statements to the Local Tribunal, PC Handy being the arresting officer.Chief Constable 2

There is more detail in the newspaper reports. Baker applied for a Certificate of exemption from military service on the grounds that he had an office in London, that he was working there and in Wolverhampton, and that under the direction of the Auctioneers’ Institute he was taking the place of men in auction businesses who had been called up for military service, throughout the country. In the event he pleaded guilty to the 4th charge. It was stated that he was not an auctioneer and surveyor, and at the present time he was earning £2 a week in a local munitions factory.

On 31st December 1917, it was reported in the Express & Star that he should have reported for duty at 9 am on 27th December, but failed to do so. He had been served with call-up papers at 4pm at Winson Green but next morning had asked leave to appeal, but this was refused. He came out of prison shortly after 9 am on December 24th, and arrived at Wolverhampton Town Hall at 12 noon where he asked for the appeal form. This he posted on 26th December he stated. It was held that he had done what he could, and that the matter would have to go before a tribunal.

All military appeal tribunal records, right across the country, were ordered to be destroyed after the war. Although an oversight has resulted in those from central Staffordshire surviving, Stafford Archives has confirmed that there are no records for Wolverhampton among them.

There appear to be no military records for this man, so perhaps he managed to avoid military service completely. He certainly was not a conscientious objector, and he survived the War, as confirmed by records available.

The 1891 census shows the family living at 17 Harley Street, at Bow in London. Joseph Baker, the head of the family is working as a superintendent and agent for Prudential Assurance, and his wife Sarah and son John H W, age 4 and recorded as born at Ledbury, Worcestershire, are also living there, together with Amy Ward, the servant, age 75, born at “Billstone” Staffordshire. Is it this time living in London that inspired John Baker’s untrue story about working there as an Auctioneer, one wonders?

By the time of the 1901 census, the Baker family was living at 168 Lea Road, Wolverhampton. Joseph was still working for the Prudential assurance company, his son John H W is age 14, born Oldbury, Worcester, but no occupation is shown. John’s sister Florence A R Baker is age 4, birthplace West Bromwich. Mary Crump, sister of the head of the household, likely to be sister in law, “dressmaker own account” age 53 also lives there, along with a servant Alice Parkes, age 17, birthplace Stafford Woodsetton.

The 1911 Census shows John Harold Whitford Baker, age 24, birth year 1887, Single, occupation “Auctioneer And Culins, Own Account”, Birthplace Worcestershire, living at 168 Lea Road, Wolverhampton, with his parents, Father Joseph Baker who is a pensioned Superintendent Prudential Company age 64 born in Staffordshire, Mother Sarah Damaris age 61 born at Hullbrook, Staffordshire, his sister Florence Agnes, Single, age 16 born at West Bromwich, Staffordshire, Occupation “Millinery, Own Account” and a female Domestic Servant Elizabeth Cotton Single age 21 birthplace Bradlow Staffordshire.

Marriage certThere is a record on 29th July 1921 of the marriage of John Harold Whitfield, bachelor, age 34, to Alice Maude Chapman, spinster, age 33, daughter of Robert Chapman Solicitor of the Supreme Court taking place at West Croydon Congregational Church, Surrey. His rank or profession is given as Auctioneer and Surveyor.

The couple may have had children. The following records can be seen on the FreeBMD website:

Birth Quarter ended September 1922 Albert E Baker mother Chapman also registered at GuildfordBirth Quarter ended March 1931 Arthur E Baker mother Chapman registered at Croydon.

A record of the death of a John Harold Whitfield on 29th January 1963 turns up among probate records. From the value of his effects, he does not appear to have been a wealthy man.probate


John James Keay


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One of our followers on Facebook contacted us with information on her great-uncle. This is his story.


John James Keay was the son of John Keay and Florence Preece, from Bilston. He was born in St. Leonards, Bilston in 1893. In 1911, the family lived at No 2 Back Of 18 Broad Street, Bilston.

He joined up with the 7th Battalion of the Kings Shropshire Light Infantry (number 17049). The 7th K.S.L.I. took part in an attack on Bazentin Ridge on 14 July 1916. The Battalion advanced at 3.20 a.m. from a sunken Road in No Man’s Land,and there were a few casualties from the preliminary bombardment. The Battalion than ran into uncut wire in front of the German front line. The remnants of the Battalion fell back to a sunken road 200 yards from the German line, leaving many wounded behind including Colonel Negus. They attacked again at 11 a.m., and with the help of bombing parties from units on the flanks and captured their objectives. John James Keay died on 18 July 1916. He is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial in France and and on the Bilston Town Hall War Roll of Honour.

The lady who contacted us would dearly love a photograph of her great-uncle, so if anyone can oblige or suggest a possible source, it would be great to hear from you!

Albert Preece


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Albert Preece was born in Wolverhampton in 1894, the son of John C. and Martha Ellen Preece (nee Wynn). In 1901, the family were living at 60 Fordhouses, and Albert appeared with his parents, his brother Harry and sisters Ellen and Ann. By 1911, the family are at Coven Heath, Bushbury, and Albert has become a farm labourer. They have been joined by a further daughter, May.

Albert joined the Royal Field Artillery as a Fitter (number 820695). He survived the war, but unfortunately died of pneumonia on 23 February 1919, by which time he was back at home. He is buried at Bushbury (St Mary) churchyard, and is commemorated on the memorial at the church.

James Price


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James Price was born in 1894 in Wolverhampton, the son of John and Caroline Price (nee Baines). By 1901, his mother had been widowed, and they were living at 1 Court Bagnall Street, together with his brother Sheridan and sisters May and Matilda. By the 1911 census, James is listed together with his mother, and brothers William and Harry at House 5, No 2 Court, Montrose Street. In total, his mother had 12 children, although four of them had died by 1911.

James Priceenlisted on 31 August 1912 into the 4th South Staffordshire Regiment (number 9003). This number was later changed to 203451. By this date he was down as a news vendor. Following his training, James was posted on 8 October 1914 to serve in France. According to his service records, his next of kin are given as his mother and brothers Joseph, William, Shedran [sic], Edward, and Harry.

Due to his common name, there are a few possible marriages for him, but either way he appears to have survived the war.


Albert Birch


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Albert Birch

Albert Birch

An article appeared in the Express & Star on 9 March 1915, stating that Mr and Mrs Birch, of 17 Herbert Street, had been informed of the death of their son, Drummer A. Birch, of the 1st South Staffordshire Regiment, at the age of 28.
Albert Birch was born in about 1886. In 1901, he and his family were already at 17 Herbert Street, and the household consisted of Albert, his parents Harry and Ellen, his brother Harry and sisters May and Sarah. Albert was listed as a rope and twine maker. According to the newspaper article, Albert had served 12 months in the Army Service Corps and 8 years in the South Staffordshire Regiment, and he was “well-known throughout the regiment and in the music-halls of Pietermaritzburg (South Africa) as a clever comedian”.

However, I have not been able to find him listed on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission site, nor on the Wolverhampton War Memorials site, and he is not listed in the Wolverhampton Roll of Remembrance. Could it be that he was not killed after all? As there are two men called Albert Birch born in 1886-1887 in Wolverhampton, it is difficult to pin down which of them is this man. One of these men, Albert Harold Birch, clearly did survive the war as he married Gladys M. Cooper in 1929. If anyone is able to provide more details about this man, I would be glad to hear from you!

Ethel Beddoes


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Ethel May Beddoes was born in 1888 in Habberley, in Shropshire, and by the 1901 census she was living in Worthen, Shropshire.

She became a nurse for the Red Cross, and her permanent address is given as Ludstone Manor Farm, Claverley, near Wolverhampton. On 25 May 1915, at the age of 27, she became working at the 2nd Western General Hospital in Manchester. This was a Territorial Force General Hospital, which were usually based at existing hospitals and other large buildings. The main 2nd Western General was based at Whitworth Street, but also had more than 20 other sites in Manchester and Stockport. Ethel stayed there for two years. On 29 August 1917, she moved to the Military Hospital Bagthorpe, in Hucknall Road, Nottingham. On 21 March 1918, she moved hospitals again, this time to the 1st Southern General Hospital, which used some of the buildings of the University of Birmingham. She was discharged on 21 April 1918.

There is a second card for her, as she picked up duties as a V. A. D. again on 8 May 1918, when she was paid £20. This time she worked at the Military Hospital in Purfleet. Her duties there were terminated on 16 May 1919, by which stage she was being paid £22.



Charles Edward Caylor


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Thanks to one of our followers, Paul Webber, on Facebook, we have tracked down one of the Wolverhampton police officers who served with the army during the First World War.

Charles Edward Caylor was born in 1880 in London, with his birth being registered in St George in the East. He married Annie Eliza Fenn on 28 August 1915 in Nottingham Registry Office. He enlisted with the Royal Field Artillery (number 23264), when his residence was given as the Police Barracks in Wolverhampton. He survived the war, and died in Nottingham at the age of 86 in 1965.

David William Hobin


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David William Hobin was born in Wolverhampton in 1894. He enlisted with the 1st Battalion of the South Staffordshire Regiment (number 9233) as a Private.

He was awarded the Military Medal, which was printed in the London Gazette on 4 February 1918. He survived the war, and married Pamela A. Corbett in 1919. The couple do not appear to have had any children. David Hobin died in 1953, aged 59. I have not been able to find any further details about this man, or about the circumstances surrounding his medal.

Help needed!


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In the Wolverhampton Police Chief Constable’s Report Book there is a note on 3 May 1915, that

1 Supt. and five constables Have rejoined the Army since our last Meeting.

The men are listed by surname only, and it is not clear from the list which one of them is the Superintendant:

  • Evans
  • Pearce
  • Kyte
  • Teasdale
  • Woodward
  • Caylor

Without further details it is practically impossible to trace these men. We may be able to confirm some of the less common surnames, such as “Teasdale” may be Edward Grosvenor Teasdale, born in Wolverhampton in 1897, but they may, of course have not been born locally and just moved for work. If anybody has any further information about these men, please get in touch!


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