Alfred James Evans


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evans-afredAlfred was born on 19 October 1889 in Harlaston, Staffordshire, the son of Joseph and Mary Ann Evans. By 1911, they were living at 106 Wednesfield Road, Wolverhampton, along with Alfred’s siblings Gertrude and Arthur Evans, and step-brother, William George Hodgkins. Alfred became a motor driver and fitter at the Sunbeam works.

He enlisted in the Royal Naval Air Service (number F/1259) on 2 November 1914. His skills learnt at Sunbeam meant he became a Petty Officer Motor Mechanic, serving first on the Pembroke III. Unfortunately, he became ill and was sent to the 19th General Hospital in Alexandria. On 6 February 1916, he died from paratyphoid, appendicextomy and peritonitis. He is buried in the Alexandria (Chatby) Military and War Memorial Cemetery in Egypt. The Wolverhampton Chronicle carried news of his death on 8 March 1916.


Sidney James Howard


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Sidney was born in Coseley (registered at Dudley) in 1891, the son of William Thomas and Harriet Howard. Sidney’s father died in Wolverhampton in 1899 at the age of 29. By 1901, he was living with his widowed mother and brother Thomas at 7, back of 63 Dudley Street. Bilston. They were at the same address in 1911, by whcih date Sidney had become a steelworks labourer.

Sidney enlisted with the 6th Battalion of the South Staffordshire Regiment (number 3297) on 14 October 1914. He served with various battalions in France until he was discharged on 30 September 1916, as he was no longer physically fit for War Service, after being wounded. On 20 December 1916, he was awarded the Silver War Badge (number 106243)His name is incorrectly written as Sidney John Howard on his medal roll index card and on the Silver War Badge records.

Sidney died in Wolverhampton in 1929 at the age of 37.

The Thomas family


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thomas familyThis image, of the five sons and one son-in-law of Mr and Mrs Thomas Thomas, Chillington Cottages, Monmore Green, appeared in the Midland Counties Express on 1 January 1916. All the brothers had worked at Bayliss, Jones and Bayliss:

  • Private Thomas enlisted in the 2nd South Staffords on 26 August 1914 and had been in France for 10 months
  • Driver Edward enlisted in October 1914 in the Army Service Corps
  • Gunner Walter enlisted on 8 January 1915 in the Royal Artillery and was in France
  • Driver James enlisted on 27 October 1915 in the Army Service Corps
  • Gunner David enlisted in the Royal Field Artillery on 28 October 1915
  • William J. Howard (son-in-law) enlisted on 27 August 1915 in the Mechanical Transport and was in France. He had worked at the Star Japan Works in Bilston
  • Eldest son Henry had joined under Lord Derby’s scheme

These were the children of Thomas and Charlotte Thomas, living at 2 Chillington Cottages, Bilston Road, Wolverhampton in 1901 and in 1911.

Thomas was born in Tipton in 1883. By 1901 he was a coal boatman. He served with the South Staffordshire Regiment (service number 16284) from August 1914. He survived the war and was discharged in March 1919.

All the sons became boatman, but their common surname means that I have been unable to confirm details of their military service or their life, although the do appear to have survived the war. Edward was born 1887 in Tipton. Walter was born in 1891 in Tipton. James was born about 1892 in Sedgley. David was born in 1897 in Sedgley, and Henry was born in 1881 in Dudley Port.

William Howard married Elizabeth Thomas in Wolverhampton in 1907. By 1911, they were living at 349 Bilston Road, together with their two children, Henry and Arthur Frank. William and an engineers fitter. William also survived the war, and died in Wolverhampton in 1943.

George William Coulter


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George was born in Wolverhampton in 1892, the son of William and Sarah Coulter. In 1901 they were living at 3 Lord Street, Bradley, Bilston, along with George’s siblings Elizabeth, William, Mary and John. They were living at 25 Slater Street, Bradley, in 1911, but the only children still at home were George, William and John. George now worked as a packer in the Galvanize Trade. George married Bertha M. Davies in Moffat, Colorado, United States of America, on 1 April 1914.

George served during the First World War, but I have been unable to confirm details of his military service, other than that he survived the war.

On 15 December 1947, George left the United Kingdom from Southampton on the Aquitania, bound for Halifax, Canada, along with his wife, Bertha. Their last address in the UK was given as The Gardens, Coven Heath, Wolverhampton, and George’s trade was listed as engineer. He died in Vancouver, Canada on 8 January 1963 at the age of 70.

John Littleton Whitehouse


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John was born in Wolverhampton in 1895, the son of George and Elizabeth Whitehouse. In 1901 they were living at 12 Broad Street, Bilston, along with John’s siblings William, Charles Henry, Lucy and Alfred. By 1911 they were at 2 Days Yard, Walsall Street, Bilston, and John had additional siblings Hilda and Arthur. John was a galvanizer doing tin work for a frying pan manufacturer.

John did serve during the war, but as his service records have not survived it is difficult to confirm details, as there are records for two men by the name of John L. Whitehouse – one serving with the Royal Field Artillery (number 252602) and one with the Lincolnshire Regiment (first number 51223 and later 63696). Both men survived the war, and the Bilston man is presumably the John L. Whitehouse who died in Rowley Regis in 1957.

Richard James Williams


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The son of James J. and Laura Williams, Richard was born in Smethwick in 1897. He was living there in 1901 with his parents and brother Walter A. By 1911, however, he was in the Royal Orphanage on the Penn Road, Wolverhampton.

He enlisted with the 2nd Battalion of the Worcestershire Regiment (number 26827). On 10 May 1917, the Express & Star printed a small article about Private James Richard Williams [sic], an “old boy” of the Royal Orphanage, who had been reported as wounded and missing since 1 March. This article noted that he had previously worked at Guest-Keen and Nettlefolds, St George’s Works, Birmingham. It was later confirmed that he had been killed in action on that date in France. His mother was listed as his next of kin, so presumably it was the death of his father that resulted in him being sent to the Royal Orphanage. He is remembered on the Thipeval Memorial.

Alfred Spittle


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Alfred was born in Wolverhampton on 9 June 1893, the son of Henry and Elizabeth or Eliza Spittle. They were living at 71 Fisher Street in 1901, along with Alfred’s siblings Harry, Mary A., Joseph and George S. The family were at 55 Leslie Road, Park Village, Wolverhampton, in 1911. Alfred was a moulder for a pump manufacturing company, and had additional siblings Annie, Evelyn, Gladys and Edward.

Alfred enlisted as a Sapper in the 38th Field Company of the Royal Engineers (number 23817). On 29 May 1917, his name was listed in the Express & Star as having been wounded. However, he recovered from his wounds and survived the war.

Alfred married Mary E. Rowley in Wolverhampton in 1922, and the couple had two children – Joseph H. (1922) and Patricia M. (1925). Alfred died in Wolverhampton in 1993.

Frederick George Medlicott


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The son of William and Lilian Medlicott, Frederick was born in Solihull in 1896. In 1901, the were living in Blymhill, Staffordshire, along with Frederick’s brothers Harold William, Gerald Arthur and Edwin Charles. They were still there in 1911, along with further siblings Stanley Ernest, Albert Henry, Minnie Elizabeth and Mary Evelyn. Frederick had become a garden labourer.

At some point the family moved to Wolverhampton. Frederick Medlicott certainly served during the war, but was discharged early and issued with a Silver War badge. Frederick married Mary Howells in Wolverhampton in 1918, and they had a daughter, Mary E., born in 1919. He died in Wolverhampton in 1920.

However, it is unclear which regiment he served with. On 10 November 1916, the Express & Star listed a Lance Corporal F. Medlicott from Wolverhampton, of the Royal West Kent Regiment as having been wounded. This man enlisted on 11 August 1914 (number G/16355), but was discharged on 19 October 1917 due to wounds. His Silver War Badge (number 255134) was issued on 18 October 1917.

The Wolverhampton Roll of Honour, on the other hand, lists his name as a Private serving with the Duke of Wellingtons Regiment (so presumably his death, although not listed on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission site) was linked to his war service. The Frederick Medlicott who served with the Duke of Wellingtons Regiment (service number 16341) enlisted on 17 December 1914, first serving in France from 4 May 1915. He was discharged due to sickness on 12 July 1917, and was issued with the Silver War Badge (number 264009) on 30 October 1917.

One of these sources is probably incorrect in linking this man to Wolverhampton. It is more likely that the Roll of Remembrance is the correct information, as this would have been provided by the family.


Lucy May Eaton


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eaton storyThe daughter of Thomas and Esther Eaton, Lucy was born in Wolverhampton in 1903. On 28 May 1903, Lucy was baptised at St Thomas’s parish church in Wednesfield. The family were living at 4 Court, 1 Rookery Street, Wednesfield, in 1911, along with Lucy’s three sisters Daisy, Dorothy and Mary Esther. Dorothy and Mary were twins. Unfortunately, Lucy’s older brother, Samuel Charles, had died in 1907. In 1912, Lucy’s parents had another set of twins, Minnie and Stanley, but unfortunately Minnie died not long after birh. In 1914, youngest sister, Nora was born.

By 1917, at the age of fourteen, Lucy was working as a helper in the Assembly Department at the Patent Axle Box Company’s Works, who were based in Wednesfield, at the junction of Hall Street and Well Lane.  These were described as “controlled” works.

Lucy accidentally set herself on fire, and died on 23 June 1917, in Wolverhampton General Hospital at 8.20 am.

An inquest was held on 26 June 1917, which gave more details of the incident which resulted in Lucy’s death. On 22 June 1917, she

was wiping cartridge cases at the Patent Axle Box, Wednesfield when by some means her clothes caught fire. the flames were put out, and she was taken to General Hospital where she died at 8.20 am 23rd inst.

A fellow assembler, Edith Ward, who lived at 65 Prestwood Road, gave evidence to the inquest.

She was wiping cartridges with an engine wiper. The cartridges are worked in turps, and then wiped with the engine wiper. She went near to the stove with the cloth, and the cloth caught fire. There was a small quantity of fire which was left by the right hand. When the wiper caught fire she wiped it down her overall. The overall was saturated with turpentine and a blaze sprung up. She got badly burnt.

Edith stated that there was not normally a fire there, as the employees usually had their meals in the mess room. She could not account for Lucy going near the fire with the turpentine.

William Hayes, the charge hand in the room adjoining the Assembly Room stated how he saw Lucy in flames and threw bags on to douse them. He stated that the fire had been left on by the night people. Works manager James Morris undertook to remove the stove altogether and to ensure that no fire would be allowed there in future.

The coroner’s verdict was accidental death, from shock caused by the burns. A report about the tragic incident appeared in the Express & Star on 26 June 1917. York Minster has a memorial to 1,400 women of the British Empire who lost their lives during the First World War, and Lucy’s name is inscribed here.

George Robert Wood


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George was born in Walsall in 1874, the son of John Thomas and Mary Wood. On 25 December 1896, he married Henrietta Cox in Walsall. By 1901, the couple were living in Foundry Street, Bradley, Bilston, along with their son Harold and daughter Norah. George was an engine driver at an iron works. By 1911 they were at 3 Belmont Street, Great Bridge Road, Bilston, and had three more children – Doris, Arthur Mason and Leonard.

George did serve during the First World War, but I have not been able to track him further, so if anybody has additional information please share it.