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This blog posting has been prepared by volunteer, Ann Eales.


This article appeared in the Express & Star on 19th February 1915:


The following extract is taken from a letter written by Private Jack Baker, 1st South Staffords, whose home is at 109 Stafford Street. He is in the hands of the Germans. He writes ‘I am wounded in three places in the shoulder hip and back. My back is still bad but I think it will soon be alright again. I expect to be sent to Germany soon.’ Private Baker was wounded at Ypres on 26th October and he states that nearly all his regiment were cut up on that day. On October 25th the South Staffords relieved another regiment but soon found out that the trenches were not bullet proof. Private Baker was in a trench with four other Wolverhampton soldiers who lost their lives. Private Baker says he hopes the war will soon be over.

The letter was brought to Wolverhampton by a friend of the writer, who having lost an arm, was sent back to this country with other wounded prisoners.

A search of the Prisoners of War website which has POW records, revealed further details of John W. Baker of Wolverhampton (clearly known as “Jack”). His regiment number was 8456, and he was captured on 26 October 1914 at Ypres and kept at the camp “Celle”. His date of birth was given as 15 April 1891. His German records state that he was “nicht verwundet” (“not wounded”), but his letter above seems to suggest otherwise. At some point he was moved to a camp at “Hameln”, and later transferred to Holland on 13 June 1918, where he remained until after the war.

J Baker’s name appears in the list of those who attended the Wolverhampton Peace Dinner in March 1919. Wolverhampton Archives has a copy of the “Programme for dinner and entertainments (Peace Dinner) to returned prisoners of war at the Baths Assembly Rooms, Wolverhampton, Mar 1919″.

His birth details can be confirmed on Freebmd as the birth of a John William Baker in the June quarter of 1891. In 1901 the family were living at 25 Gibbs Street, and the household consisted of John, his parents John and Margaret (the latter born in Newcastle), his brother Arthur and his as-yet-unnamed baby sister.

With regards to the four other Wolverhampton soldiers who lost their lives on the day Baker was captured, I have managed to find two men in the 1st Battalion of the South Staffordshire Regiment who died on that day and had Wolverhampton links – John Hurlston and Harry Birch. I will feature them on future blog posts.