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Notice in memory of Privates Joseph Horace Belcher and Ernest Haden Elliot late assistants of Wolverhampton Free Library killed in action 1917

Notice in memory of Privates Joseph Horace Belcher and Ernest Haden Elliot

This notice was produced by Wolverhampton Free Library after the unfortunate death of two of their Library Assistants  on 27 September 1917, Joseph Horace Belcher and Ernest Haden Elliott.

Belcher was born in 1896 to Joseph and Mary Ann Belcher, of 247 All Saints Road, Wolverhampton. He attended the Wolverhampton Higher Grade School. By the 1911 census he was an errand boy at an iron monger’s shop, but later became a Library Assistant at the Wolverhampton Free Library. He enlisted on 7 October 1914 and served in the North Midland Field Ambulance Section of the Royal Army Medical Corps as a Private (service number 421194). He received the Victory Medal and the British Medal.

He was killled on the Western Front in France, part of the British Expeditionary Force there, and is buried at Tyne Cot in West Vlanderen, Belgium. Belcher is commemorated on three war memorials in Wolverhampton, that of the Higher Grade School in Newhampton Road, the Royal Army Medical Corps Transport Memorial in St Peter’s Church and All Saints Church War Memorial. There was also a poem, written by Arthur Saunders, published in the Express and Star on 23 October 1917. The Royal Army Medical Corps also have an entry for him on their website.

Poem dedicated to Belcher and Elliott

Poem dedicated to Belcher and Elliott

Belcher’s service records, available on Ancestry, include a query from his father about his personal effects. In particular, it appears that Belcher’s watch was not amongst those items sent back to the family, and they had instead received a watch that did not belong to him. The response from the commander of Belcher’s unit states that “No personal effects of this man were handed over to this Unit. I believe he was killed in No Man’s land.” It appears, however, that the watch was eventually tracked down, as there is a postcard dated 1 May 1918 from Mr Belcher, thanking the Royal Army Medical Corps for the return of the watch.

The research for this blog post was conducted by one of our volunteers, Elizabeth Stenning.

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