The BBC World War One at Home live touring event is at West Park this weekend as part of the Wolverhampton & Black Country Show. Wolverhampton Archives will be represented together with the rest of our WAVE colleagues. On Saturday 12th July, archivist Heidi Mcintosh will be meeting Larry Lamb at 12.30 in the briefing room, talking about our white feather letter. Come along and find out more!
This autumn, Bilston Craft Gallery will be commemorating the 100th anniversary of the start of the First World War. We’re keen to include people’s local knowledge and family history to understand the impact this world event had in Bilston – for its people and its industry.
- Do you have any memorabilia or records relating to the First World War?
- Did any of your relatives or family friends work in local factories during the Great War?
We’d like to find out more! Please tell us your stories using the form below.
For more information contact Carrie Slawinska at Bilston Craft Gallery 01902 552 507 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Albert Beach, Bertha Cooksley, British Library, Edward Christian, Ernest Elliott, Frederick Austin, George Cadman, Harold Sankey, James Maddocks, London Regiment, Martin O'Connor, Red Cross, Royal Fusiliers, Wolverhampton Grammar School
Some more updates on individuals featured on this blog, thanks to some very kind contributions from our readers:
- Frederick Hubert Austin: His death of pneumonia in November 1918 suggests that he was a victim of the Spanish flu epidemic.
- Albert Abraham Beach: He did, in fact, have three sons, his third, David Wesley, was born in 1924 and has just celebrated his 90th birthday.
- George Thomas Cadman: He may never have served with the London Regiment. His service numbers have six digits, which tell us that he was a Territorial Force soldier, so thismay have been purely administrative. He is shown with the same regimental number for both London Regiment and Royal Fusiliers. The Royal Fusiliers had no territorial battalions of its own, but several battalions of the all-territorial London Regiment were affiliated to it and wore the Royal Fusiliers’ cap badge.
- Edward Charles Christian: Further details of many of the “Old Boys” from Wolverhampton Grammar School are featured on this website.
- Bertha Mary Cooksley: Bertha Cooksley has a service file at the National Archives and there is a possible match in the death records, Bertha M. Corbett, Wirral, March qtr1940. There is also an entry in the Register of the Royal Red Cross.
- Ernest Haden Elliott: There is a memorial at the British Library to Librarians who fell in the Great War, although Elliott does not appear to feature on this. Further information on this is on their Facebook album, as well as on an old blog post. As well as the memorial detailed in the original post, Elliott is also commemorated on the RAMC memorial in St Peter’s Church and St Luke’s Church memorial in Blakenhall.
- James Maddocks:The fact that he attested in December 1915, but his service did not begin until April 1916 suggests he enlisted under the terms of the Derby Scheme (named after Lord Derby, the director of recruitment). This was the last attempt to keep enlistment voluntary, without the need for conscription.
- Martin O’Connor: The fact that his death was attributed to his war service is corroborated by the fact he has an entry in the CWGC register (deaths up to 1/8/1921 can be recognised by them) which shows him as an RAF sergeant major. His RAF record can be found in AIR 79/14/1085 – the final part of the reference is his service number.
- Harold Bantock Sankey: Harold won the Military Cross in September 1916 during the attack on Thiepval (part of the Battle of the Somme). He was carrying out the highly dangerous task of forward observation officer feeding information back to 241 Brigade’s artillery batteries.
We have been having a phenomenal response to our blog postings recently, with many of you providing updates and further information about some of the individuals featured. Here is a round-up of the details:
- Harold Joseph Beech served with the 2nd Battalion, The Royal Scots (The Royal Regiment), not the Royal Scots Guards as stated in the post. He died near Kemmel.
- Joseph Downing joined the Staffordshire Regiment on 2 October 1911. He was discharged on 7 April 1917 with sickness with silver war badge number 44239. It also appears that the Joseph Langley Downing featured in the post was not, in fact, the relative of the original enquirer, as the death dates were different.
- It is likely that Joseph Glaze was wounded in action on the front line near Grandcourt. Two men from the 7th Battalion were wounded on 15 December 1916, with 13 casualties the following day. On 17 December they returned to brigade reserve at Englebelmer. This is taken from the History of the seventh South Staffs Regt edited by Major A H Ashcroft.
- One of our volunteers recognised the Ash View address of Annie Lloyd. The Lloyd family appeared in the 1911 census living at Ash View, the Scotlands. Annie was 16, living with her father James, a “Vermin Steel Trapmaker”, mother Selina and brother Alfred (14). There are four other households that have Ash View as their address in these returns, so it was possibly a terrace of houses. It seems that the address could be on the Cannock Road, but there are not many houses around so the returns cover quite a wide area. He looked through other nearby returns to see if there was a Horace anywhere close but no luck on that.
- One of our readers was very interested in the story of Jack Reading Caswell. 30 years ago she had bought a large framed collection from a London antique shop containing J R Caswell’s medals, the Wolverhampton memorial scroll & the letter from the King. She has offered to send us a photograph which we can add to our collections. At the time she wrote to his old battalion for a brief record of his war & visited his grave in France.
We welcome all additions and updates to information we have already posted, so please get in touch if you can help with fleshing out some of the details!
We are appealing to our various social media followers for help again!
One of our Twitter followers has sent us the above photograph, which includes her grandfather. He fought in the 4th battalion of the South Staffordshire Regiment during the First World War. She has got his regiment records, but she would love to know more details of who the other people are on the photograph. She will hopefully be visiting the Archives soon so that we can assist her with further research, but can anybody help in the meantime?
Yesterday saw the launch of the new World War One Engagement Centre, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) with the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF). Set up by the Universities of Wolverhampton and Birmingham, with support from Newman College, Birmingham City University, and Worcester University, the Centre will be based at the new Library of Birmingham.
Because of the link with Wolverhampton, we are very proud that the launch included schoolchildren reading from material held at Wolverhampton City Archives. These detailed the deaths of two local people during in the First World War, one fighting in the trenches (in the case of Jesse Hill), and one dying at home (Maud Fellows). Both stories have already been featured in more detail on this blog. A photograph of Jesse Hill is also featured in our banner at the top of this blog. Highlights of some of these resources are also featured on the website of the Engagement Centre, entitled Voices of War and Peace.
You can follow updates from this Centre on Twitter.
Thank you all for your responses to our appeal for more information on T. Roberts, who was awarded the Serbian Gold Medal for distinguished service during the First World War. With your help, we have been able to flesh out a bit more detail about the man behind the certificate, mainly thanks to this article in the Express & Star.
Tom H. Roberts was appointed Curator of Wolverhampton Art Gallery in 1948, having been Senior Assistant Curator for the previous 26 years. According to the article, he served for four years during the First World War, before being wounded and torpedoed, and most of his war-time service was spent as a member of the British Mission to the Serbian Army. This explains why he was awarded the Serbian Gold Medal, as well as why the certificate has found its way among the collection of material from Wolverhampton Art Gallery. We are still somewhat in the dark about his background, though, and, given the relative high frequency of his surname, we still need a bit more information before we can try and unearth his military records.
One of our Facebook followers have suggested that this may be Thomas Roberts (who was born about 1875-1878 in Wolverhampton), the son of Frederick Stephen Roberts and his wife Emma Louisa Bantock. If this is correct, that would mean that this certificate links with Bantock House as well as with Wolverhampton Art Gallery. If anybody has any further information, we would greatly appreciate it! Meanwhile, we will keep digging…
In amongst the Local History collection received from Wolverhampton Art Gallery, we have a certificate in (presumably) Serbian, although it is possibly Russian. This is certainly not something we see in our archives everyday, and our Latin and other language skills are a bit more limited in this case. Fortunately, we have a translation which has been kept together with the certificate!
It says the following:
For Distinguished Service.
In the Name of His Majesty
By the Grace of God and the Will of the People
King of Serbia
His Royal Highness
Heir to the Throne
deigned by his Ukaz
of 1st July, 1916, F. A. O. No. 3830 to confer the
GOLD MEDAL FOR DISTINGUISHED SERVICE upon
Sergt. Major T. Roberts,
which is certified by this Diploma.
The certificate is signed by the Chancellor of the Royal Orders, General Pav. Juristic Strum, and is dated 29 May 1921. But who was this Sergeant-Major T. Roberts? And what were his actions during the First World War that led to his receiving this award? And finally, what are his links to Wolverhampton and how has this certificate come to be in our collection?
There is some information on the Serbian Gold Medal on Wikipedia. There is also a letter regarding the award of the Serbian Gold Medal to Rowland Williams in the collections of the University of Oxford. Other than that we have very little information available. If anybody is able to shed further light on this mystery, we would greatly appreciate it!
Volunteer Frank Lockley has been researching the soldiers buried at Heath Town Cemetery:
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) website lists 16 graves of those that died in the first world war up to November 1918.
The churchyard is split into two main areas, the “old ground” and “new ground”. The references to the grave locations note which area the grave is located in. Three of the graves have family memorials in place of the standard CWGC headstone.
In some cases there is a little extra information on the CWGC site regarding family members.
Other research has included service records, where these have survived, and medal index cards (both via Ancestry.co.uk) along with census records for family and occupation information.
The website “The Long Long Trail” has also been used for background information.
The parish records for burials at Heath Town and the Express & Star at Wolverhampton City Archives provided date of burial, place of death and any other information that may have been reported in the local paper.
Our volunteers have been busy looking through the local newspapers for First World War stories related to Wolverhampton, and they have already come across lots of interesting articles. Not surprisingly, the war affected all aspects of everyday life. For example, on Saturday 10 October, there is an article in the Express and Star detailing efforts to recruit men to the armed forces who have come to watch a Wolves Reserves match at Molineux. There are numerous articles about recruitment and fund-raising drives, as well as other issues that have arisen as a result of the international crisis.
We have gathered a selection of highlights of these articles onto the WAVE Flickr site.
More articles will be added all the time, so please look back when you get the chance!