Harold Bagley


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Harold was born in Wolverhampton in 1893, the son of Amelia and John T. Bagley. By 1901, he was living with his widowed mother at 102 John Street, Bilston.

Harold enlisted with the 8th Service Battalion of the South Staffordshire Regiment (number 15456). On 14 May 1917, his name was listed in the Express & Star as having been wounded. Unfortunately, this information was incorrect, as he was killed in action on 15 February 1916. He is remembered at the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial in Belgium


‘Old Bill’ – a message from our ANZAC past


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Information for the following post has been provided by Bill’s descendant, Steve Dean.


  • A young Frederick William (Bill) Dean arrived in Albany, Australia, from Wolverhampton a couple of years before the outbreak of WW1.
  • He was one of the original Gallipoli ANZACs serving throughout all of that campaign in 4 Field Ambulance and later on the Western Front as an infantry Sergeant.
  • Following the evacuation of troops at the end of the Gallipoli campaign he became seriously ill with ‘Jaundice’ (possibly hepatitis) and was shipped back to Australia for three months ‘debility’. Discharged as medically unfit upon arrival back in W.A.
  • Reenlisted (somehow) just a few weeks later and served as an infantry Sergeant on the Western Front (16 Battalion) until the end of the war. Wounded (Gas) in 1918 losing partial sight in one eye.
  • Married the girl from down the street (Gatis Street in Wolverhampton) and returned to Australia living in the wheatbelt towns of Bruce Rock, Goomalling and Northam where he operated small businesses, was a JP and an RSL member.
  • Had two children Betty (dec) and Bob (now 85 years of age).


deanBill’s grandson Steve clearly recalls conversations with him about the war. Although like most war veterans reluctant to recount his experiences, he would recount them in some cases. They tended to be phrased in a ‘parable’ like way always with the intention of making a compelling point (the war being a disaster, a catastrophe….).

Steve recalls his grandfather talking about that very first day at Gallipoli and commenting along the lines of “We’re in a real spot of bother here – I’m going to have to be lucky to get out of this alive and probably won’t.”

Stretcher Bearers at Gallipoli were unarmed, often fully exposed to the enemy and defenceless. It was a job that demanded cold hard courage day after day, along with the demands of looking after men who were all too often beyond help. Not surprisingly their casualty rate was very high, even by the awful statistics of WWI. Steve recalls him mentioning that you just had to carry on never knowing when a sniper’s bullet might come your way.

It doesn’t pay to be too tall in war!

One day a sniper’s bullet did come Old Bill’s way just touching the top of his hair. The fellow next to him was not so fortunate. “It doesn’t pay to be too tall in war”!

The truce at Gallipoli

Steve also remembers his grandfather talking about the brief truce at Gallipoli on 24th May 1915 where fighting was suspended for a brief period so the dead could be buried. He expressed great respect for the character and decency of the Turkish soldiers (a sentiment still strong today between the two nations), sitting with them sharing rations and so on. The brutal truth though was that the ground was so littered with putrifying corpses that it was impossible to keep fighting.

Don’t hesitate – not even for a second!

Another ‘parable-like recollection’ was that of leading a patrol later in the war on the Western Front. Resting with his patrol quietly against a stone wall he heard footsteps approaching along the other side of the wall and German voices. Two bombs (one in each hand apparently!) were immediately thrown over the top. Old Bill found a photo on the body of the German soldier who had been leading that patrol. It showed a happy family scene – the tall fellow in full uniform, one child sitting on his shoulders, wife standing alongside with another child. Many years after the war Bill recounted this event to Steve – showing him that very photo. A message about the futility of war, his disgust at it and profound sorrow followed. Also delivered at the same time was a message about “not hesitating even for a second in war – that’s why I’m alive and he’s not.”

Why I lived in the wheatbelt after the war

Old Bill recounted that he suffered from bad bronchitis after the war and that a doctor advised him to live in a dry, warm climate. The W.A. wheatbelt fitted that bill. The reality was far more harsh than that – most men gassed on the Western Front did not live much past 50 – such were the injuries inflicted by this terrible new form of warfare. The wheatbelt must have helped as Bill died not far short of his 89th birthday.

So what would Old Bill’s message be to us today?

Probably pretty similar to what grandson Steve recalls from the 1960s & 70s i.e.

  • WW1 was a disaster, a catastrophe in fact with too many good men on all sides dying, being maimed and so on.
  • Our nations should be able to settle their differences peacefully, and whilst we must always be capable of defending ourselves, war must be a final resort.
  • We need to learn as a nation to keep our noses out of other people’s bloody business (an oft expressed sentiment of his).
  • A good first port of call might be to set up a boxing ring in the middle of a paddock and have the leaders of quarrelling nations fight it out themselves without involving others (a frequently expressed sentiment of his during the time of the Vietnam War – he felt our involvement in it was a mistake although he admired the people we sent there to fight).

Like most surviving WW1 veterans, Bill was a man profoundly affected by his experiences and struggled with his demons for the rest of his life – and he was one of the lucky ones.

An interesting aside – fast forward to 2012

During early 2012 an interesting artefact was found in the linen cupboard of Bill’s daughter Betty (now deceased). In amongst the contents of her linen cupboard was a long piece of cross stitching carefully folded with a stainless steel needle still embedded in it., bearing the words Egypt 1916, the Pyramids & Sphinx, the words ‘Advance Australia’ and the flags of a number of nations. Steve believes that this work was completed whilst Bill was a patient in hospital shortly after the completion of the Gallipoli campaign. It was probably quite a brilliant idea of the nursing staff to occupy traumatised minds for extended periods with few available resources.

A coincidence

Grandson Steve’s wife, Catherine, is the grand daughter of Harold James (Sam) Bacon – a Queenslander, also one of the original ANZACS who served as a runner with the 9th Battalion throughout the Gallipoli campaign and on the Western Front until the war’s end.




Charles Henry Lack


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Charles was born in Wolverhampton on 5 November 1896, the son of Emma G. and Thomas H. Lack. In 1901 they were living at 30 Paradise Street, Wolverhampton, with Charles’s sister, Emma. From 1906 onwards, Charles attended Dudley Road Primary School, and from 1907 until 1909 he was at Causeway Lake School. By 1911, they were at 5 Bromley Street, Wolverhampton, with an additional three children – Edith, John and Lily. Charles was working as an errand boy for a grocer.

In 1913, he enlisted with the Kings Own Scottish Borderers at the age of 17 (service number 11627). In 1916, he joined the 5th Battalion of the Bedfordshire Regiment (number 19083). At some point he also transferred to the Royal Defence Corps (number 45200). Charles died on 12 November 1918 in Wolverhampton, and is buried in Wolverhampton Cemetery. He is also remembered at St John’s Church.

Frederic John Iliff


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The son of Fanny and John Spencer Iliff, Frederic was born in Burton-on-Trent in 1884. In 1901 they were still living in Burton, together with Frederic’s sisters, Margaret A. and Helen H. By 1911, he had moved to Wolverhampton, and was living on his own at 199 Lea Road. He was working as the manager of a gear cutting works for a motor manufacturer.

Frederic enlisted in the 6th Battalion of the South Staffordshire Regiment as a Second Lieutenant. His name was listed in the Express & Star on 30 October 1914 as one of the local men who had signed up to serve his country, with his address now being 3 Goldthorn Hill, Penn Fields, Wolverhampton. However, he was killed in action on 13 October 1915. He is remembered at the Loos Memorial in France, as well as in the Lady Chapel of St Peter’s Church and on the memorial at St Philip’s Church, Penn.

Charles Frederick Badham


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The son of Elizabeth and Lewis William Badham, Charles was born in Wolverhampton in 1894. By 1911, the family were living in St Albans, Hertfordshire, along with Charles’s siblings Joseph William and Hubert George. Charles was working as a milk carrier on the milk rounds.

In 1914, Charles enlisted in the 2nd Company, 1st Battalion of the Hertfordshire Regiment (number 2676). He was wounded, and died of these wounds on 28 May 1916. He is buried at Abbeville Communal Cemetery in France.

Bertram Callear Burgess


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Bertram was born on 12 August 1888 in Wolverhampton, the youngest child of William Burgess and Ellen Hill Callear. Bertram’s middle name Callear came to be spelt many different ways! Bertram grew up in 9 Tower Street, Wolverhampton. William, his father, was described as a coal dealer, and more often as a carter. On the 1911 census he was a carter working on his own account and Bertram was also a carter, presumably working with his father. Bertram had a sister, Mary Elizabeth, born 1884 (ruler at a printer’s in 1901), and a brother, William, born 1886 who was a railway clerk on the 1901 census. Another sister, Mabel Fanny, was born in, and died in 1883. Bertram was the only child living with William and Ellen in 1911.

Ellen Hill Burgess had become a member of Queen Street Congregational Church in 1900. Bertram appears on the Church’s 1914-15 roll of honour. He enlisted very early, on 9 August 1914, in the 1/7th Battalion of South Staffordshire Regiment (Regimental number 10183). This was a Kitchener’s battalion formed in Lichfield at the outbreak of war. On 21 July 1915 he was sent to Gallipoli. At some point he had been appointed a Corporal. He appeared on the Daily List of 4 September 1915 as one of the wounded. Sadly the effect of a gun shot wound to his left arm had been severe and it had to amputated. He was discharged on 19 May 1916 and was given a pension and a Silver War Badge

Bertram moved to Aston. His pension card has the address 3/32 Upper Thomas Street. In 1918 he married Louisa M Harding and they had two sons and two daughters. By 1939 they had moved to 85 Shortheath Road, Erdington, probably part of the new post WW1 housing. His occupation on the 1939 National Register is difficult to read but could be commissionaire. This was a job frequently carried out by disabled ex-servicemen. Bertram died at the same address on 7 October 1962 and after probate left an estate of £3835 13s.

The research for this blog post was completed by volunteer Susan Martin.

Richard Henry Ridges


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Richard was born in Calcutta in 1885, the son of Lucy Edridge (from Bilston) and Edward Ridges (from London). Richard had an older sister Lucy born 1882 and a brother John born 1883. By 1891 the family was back in England living at 29 Tettenhall Road, Wolverhampton with Richard’s maternal grandparents. Richard’s grandfather after whom he was named was a former tea dealer. Did this explain the family’s stay in India?

Richard’s father Edward Ridges was now a coach builder. On the 1901 census the family was living at Larches Lane, Wolverhampton. Richard’s sister Lucy was a milliner’s assistant. On the 1911 census she and Julia had no occupations. In 1911 the family was living at Karagola, 12 Crawford Street, Wolverhampton. They had nine rooms and on both the 1901 and 1911 census returns there was a female servant, Martha Walker in 1901 and Annie Bishop in 1911. Richard was not recorded at home on the 1911 census, as he was a pharmaceutical servant in London.

Edward and Lucy Ridges had been members of the Queen Street Congregational Church since 1893 and Richard is on the church’s 1914-15 Roll of Honour. Richard joined the Royal Army Medical Corps (unit number 534488) and served with the 4th London Field Ambulance. He was discharged on 11 April 1918 for ill heath and received a pension from 12 November 1918. He had been diagnosed with tuberculosis of the lower dorsal vertibrae, judged to be aggravated by war service, and neurasthenia judged to be caused by the war. His salary before he enlisted had been £3.50 a week and he was granted £5 a week.

The good news is that Richard’s tuberculosis did not prove to be fatal. He married Hettie Fuller in 1925, and on the 1939 National Register was working as a chemist and living at 42 Ashwood Road, Worcester. Probably after retirement he moved to Leigh-on-Sea where he died on 23 June 1967 at 68 Hillside Crescent, leaving an estate after probate of £9534. He does not appear to have had any children.

The research for this blog post has been completed by volunteer Susan Martin.

John Douglas Rowe


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John Douglas Rowe was born in Wolverhampton on 5 November 1897, the youngest of the four children of William Rowe and Agnes Annie Nevitt. His siblings were William Henry in 1891, Thomas Sidney in 1893 and Gladys May in 1894. William Rowe was a vaccination officer. In 1901 the family were living at 99 Waterloo Road and in 1911 at 88 Waterloo Road. John Douglas was still a scholar on the 1911 census. His brother William was not at home on the census, Thomas Sidney was a paint grinder in varnish works and Gladys a typist for an iron and steel merchants.

John Douglas is on the Queen Street Congregational Church 1914-15 roll of honour. I have not been able to establish his link with the church, although a number of people from Waterloo Road attended. John Douglas joined up on 31 December 1914 (service number 81033) with the Royal Field Artillery 6th Brigade as a gunner. He was just 17. He went to France on 2 October 1915, and was discharged on 6 February 1919. He was awarded a Silver War Badge, having been discharged for illness. He received a pension the same day, and his illness was judged to have been aggravated by the war. He also claimed bad teeth but this was not accepted.

Between 1919 and 1923 he moved to 121 Cambridge Road, Smethwick. In 1922 he married Hilda M Downing and they had a son and a daughter. On the 1939 National Register he is a Superintendent School Engineering Officer living at 3 Benton Road, Middlesborough. John died in Wolverhampton in 1953.

The research for this blog post has been done by volunteer, Susan Martin.

Sidney Percival Jones


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Sidney was born in Wolverhampton on 23 April 1894, the eldest child of Arthur Benjamin Jones and Gertrude Hannah Chambers. He had a brother, Arthur Cyril born 1895, and a sister, Hilda Gertrude, in 1899. In 1901 the family was living at Avenue Villa, Codsall. By 1911 the family was at 87 Waterloo Road, Wolverhampton, in a seven bedroomed property. Sidney and his brother, Arthur, were both clerks for a hardware manufacturer.

In 1911 Arthur and Gertrude Jones became members of the Queen Street Congregational Church and Sidney followed in 1912. His name is on the Church’s 1914-15 Roll of Honour. Sidney enlisted on 3 September 1914 and served in the 1/6th South Staffordshire Regiment. He went to France on 5 March 1915. Sidney was discharged on 6 February 1919. He was given the Silver War Badge, and also a pension from 7 February 1919, due to gun shot wounds to arm, chest and thigh.

Sidney married Evelyn M Shinton in 1920 and moved for a while to 97 Plough Lane, Bilston. On the 1939 National Register he was living with his father, who was now widowed and ran a boarding house at 20 Aldersley Avenue, Seisdon. Sidney was recorded as a hollowware maufacturer and engineer. Sidney died in Wolverhampton in 1966.

The research for this blog post was completed by volunteer Susan Martin.

New Zealand Rifle Brigade Visit Wolverhampton Mayor


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1918 Members of the New Zealand Rifle Brigade signatures in the Mayor of Wolverhampton (John Francis Myatt) visitors book.

During WW1 troops from the New Zealand Rifle Brigade were based at Brocton training Camp, Cannock Chase, from 1917 to May 1919.

The New Zealand Rifle Brigade were considered some of New Zealand’s elite forces. One hundred years on Thursday 23rd May 2019 a new memorial was unveiled.

The Ngā Tapuwae  (in their footsteps) Heritage Sign unveiled outside the Great War hut at Cannock Chase Visitor Centre, Staffordshire
Unveiled by Rt Hon Sir Jerry Mateparae GNZM QSO, The High Commissioner for New Zealand and Deputy Lord Lieutenant for Staffordshire Colonel Chris Comport.
Ngā Tapuwae  (in their footsteps) New Zealand First World War Trails
There are 73 Commonwealth War Graves for New Zealand Men