During the lockdown period, we have had various volunteers doing research for us remotely, to start looking at the contribution made by local men and women during the Second World War, to expand the remit of this blog. If anybody is interested in getting involved, please do get in touch! One of those volunteers, who has done stirling work throughout, is Ann Eales, and this is one of the people she has researched.
Ronald was born in Wolverhampton on 31 January 1915, the son of Frederick B. and Ethel C. Hipkiss. In 1939, they were living at 24 Belmont Road, Wolverhampton, along with Ronald’s brothers, Charles B. and Dennis A. Ronald was working as a steel shearer in the heavy tool trade. In 1940, Ronald married Violet Tomkinson in Wolverhampton. The couple had a son, Ronald B. B., born in Bilston in 1944.
Ronald served as a Private with the 5th Battalion of the South Staffordshire Regiment (service number 4928963). He died on 17 July 1944, so it seems likely that he never met his son, whose birth was registered in the December quarter of 1944. He is buried in the St. Manvieu War Cemetery, in Cheux, in France.
George was born in Wolverhampton on 22 November 1899, the son of James and Ann Dale. In 1901, they were living at 9 Navigation Street, Wolverhampton, along with George’s siblings Ada, Alfred, Eliza, Albert and Emma Alice. From 1903 onwards, George attended Causeway Lake School, By 1911 they were at 3 Tremont Street, Wolverhampton
During the First World War, George served with the Plymouth Division of the Royal Marine Light Infantry (service number PLY/19806). Unfortunately, he died from disease on 31 October 1918, and is buried in Heath Town (Holy Trinity) Churchyard.
Horace was born in Wolverhampton in 1894, the son of Joseph Arthur and Ellen Theresa Cadman. He was baptised at St Paul’s Church, Wolverhampton on 5 July 1894. In 1901, they were living in Wellington, Somerset, together with Horace’s brothers Arthur E., Leonard and Harold. By 1911, the family, including additional siblings Gladys Amy and Cecil James, were living at Upper Brook Street in Oswestry, Shropshire. Horace was working as a cycle repairer.
Horace enlisted in the 1st Battalion of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers (service number 4424), but he died on 16 May 1915 at the age of 20. He is remembered on the Le Touret Memorial in France.
The son of Samuel and Ann Bailey, Joseph was born in Wolverhampton in around 1889. In 1891, the family (including Joseph’s sister Fanny) were lodging in the home of Dinah Bennett at Willenhall Road, Bilston. By 1901 they were living at 8 Beckett Street, and Joseph had another sister, Grace. They were at 26 Beckett Street by 1911, and the 22-year-old Joseph was working as an iron worker at a sheet steel rolling mill.
Joseph enlisted at Stockton-On-Tees in the 10th Battalion of the Northumberland Fusiliers (service number 19582). He later transferred to the 20th Battalion (Tyneside Scottish). In March 1917 he was wounded, and was killed in action on 16 October 1917. He is buried at the Cement House Cemetery in Belgium, and is remembered on the Bilston New Town Ward Roll of Honour.
The son of Samel and Brigett Abley, Samuel was born in around 1885. He was baptised at St Mary’s Roman Catholic Church in Willenhall on 7 July 1888. By 1891, he was living with his parents and siblings John, Jane, Ann, James and Rose, in New Street, Portobello. By 1901, the 17 year old Samuel was working as a coal miner and living in Walsall in the home of John Abley, presumably his older brother. In 1905, Samuel married Betsy Cooper in Walsall, and had a son, Martin, born in 1907. By 1911 the couple were still living in Walsall in the home of John Abley. On this census, Samuel is listed as being the son of John, but, given there is only a ten-year age gap between the two, it is more likely to be his brother.
George was born on 31 August 1890 in London, the son of Elizabeth Richards. By 1897, they were living at 38 Grove Street, Wolverhampton, as George was admitted to Dudley Road Primary School. His parent’s name is given as John, but, in fact, this was a John Gubbins, rather than Richards. In the 1901 census, Elizabeth Richards, George, and his two siblings, Samuel and Sarah, are listed as “Lodgers”, as are two further children with the surname Gubbins, Thomas R. and William R. By 1911, at the same address, Samuel and George Richards are listed as the children of John Gubbins, as are Thomas, William, Elizabeth and John Gubbins. Elizabeth Richards is listed as the housekeeper. George was working as an enameller at the Chromographic Enamel Company Limited.
George enlisted in the Royal Army Medical Corps as a Private in the 3rd North Midland Field Ambulance (service number 2245), but was killed on 8 September 1914. On 26 February 1915, the Express & Star published a list of the names of local men who had died, which included that of George Richards. George is buried at Wolverhampton Borough Cemetery, and is remembered on the Royal Army Medical Corps memorial in St Peter’s Church to members of the 3rd North Midland Field Ambulance.
Two of Wolverhampton’s war memorials, commemorating the sacrifices made by local people, have been returned to their former glory.
The memorials, in Church Road, Pennfields, and at St Michael and All Angels Church in Tettenhall, were erected in memory of those who fought and died in conflict. Over the years they have suffered from wear and tear, with the Tettenhall memorial also sadly subjected to vandalism.
But members of the Bradmore War Memorial Fund and the Tettenhall War Memorial Committee have worked with the City of Wolverhampton Council to raise funds to repair and conserve the memorials for future generations.
The Pennfields, Bradmore and Merry Hill war memorial, situated within ornamental gardens opposite St Philips Church, is mounted on a plinth and features a granite soldier holding a rifle bayonet.
Repair work included stabilising the plinth, mortar repairs, a recasting of the bayonet, installation of a tree root barrier, cleaning of the stonework and repainting the names of those who lost their lives. Works were carried out by Birmingham firm, William Parratt Masonry Ltd.
The Tettenhall war memorial, erected in 1920, is a red sandstone cross and shaft mounted on a plinth, with the names of the fallen from both the First and Second World Wars recorded on panels around it. The sandstone has eroded over the years, as well as being subject to vandalism, resulting in damage to both the cross and shaft.
Repair work, undertaken by Cannock-based Croft Building and Conservation Ltd, has seen the sandstone cross replaced, the shaft reinstated with a faithful reproduction, stonework repaired and the memorial cleaned.
Funding for the work came from Grants for War Memorials scheme supported by Historic England, amounting to £6500 for the Pennfields, Bradmore and Merry Hill war memorial and £10450 for the Tettenhall one. The grants covered up to 75% of the cost, with the two groups carrying out fundraising activities to secure the rest.
As the scheme only pays grants on the satisfactory completion of the repair work, it was agreed that the City Council would act as the accountable body on behalf of the two groups, establishing £20,000 capital grants to fund each repair in advance and receiving the grants when the work is finished.
Mayor, Councillor Claire Darke said, “I am delighted to see these memorials restored, they are an important part of our city heritage. Thank you to all those who worked together to make this happen”.
Phil Robinson, from the Bradmore War Memorial Fund, said: “We are really pleased that the memorial has been repaired and that the names of the fallen have been repainted. Those names will mean something to many local families.
“As a group, we wanted to ensure that the statue provided a lasting legacy to commemorate those who gave their lives, as well as being something to help younger people learn about the sacrifices made by previous generations.”
“We’d like to thank everyone who has supported our fundraising, the general public, local groups and organisations and families whose ancestors are represented on the memorial.”
Frances Moreton, Director of the War Memorials Trust, said: “War memorials are a link between previous generations, ours and those who follow us. They enable us to pay tribute to the sacrifices of so many. War Memorials Trust is delighted to support this project and assist the community to improve the condition of the war memorial.
“If anyone knows of any other war memorials in need of help please contact the charity or, if you believe in the importance of our work, support us as the charity can only give further grants if it raises enough money.”
The information for this post was shared by David Jones.
The son of Thomas and Phoebe (nee Birch), Frederick Thomas was born in Wolverhampton in 1883 and lived at 26 Cobden Street, Blakenhall. The family also lived for a time in Cross Street, Blakenhall. In 1884 the family emigrated to Melbourne, Australia, settling in Kew. Here Thomas had a tailoring business, and later a Mercer and Drapery shop until his death in 1905. Phoebe, Emma and Frederick carried on the business until the outbreak of war in 1914.
Frederick enlisted in the 29th Battalion, 1st Australian Infantry Force, in 1915. In Egypt he transferred to the newly-formed 5th Australian Division Artillery, training as a Gunner and joining the 13th Field Artillery Brigade. Frederick’s first taste of war came in the ill-fated Battle of Fromelles on 19-21 July 1916, when 5,583 casualties where recorded in a 24 hour period, the fledgling Australian Infantry Force’s blackest day in any war. Adolf Hitler also lurked in and around the German ‘pillbox’ stronghold known as the ‘Sugarloaf’, where British and Australian forces were mercilessly mown down by rapid machine gun fire, causing immense losses to the BEF as well.
Frederick was sent to ‘Gas School’ after having been gassed at Fromelles, but he survived the war and returned home to Australia in 1919, returning to his former tailoring trade. He settled in Mildura, Victoria, where he passed away in 1933. In 2014, Frederick and two other First World War servicemen were given a re-dedication ceremony and refurbished grave and headstones at Mildura Cemetry by the Australian Returned Soldier’s League and War Graves Commission.
Kenneth Salwey Howard and his twin sister Kathleen Philippa were born on 14 December 1879 at Gorsebrook House, off the Stafford Road, Bushbury, Wolverhampton (now the site of Wolverhampton University’s Science and Business Park). They were the youngest children of coal, brick and tile merchant Edward Matthew Howard and Laura Harriet Howard (nee Salwey) who was born in Ash, Kent, in 1841. Edward was the son of a vicar and Laura also came from a clerical family.
Kenneth and Kathleen were baptised on 14 January 1880 at Tettenhall. Their eldest brother, Arthur E. Howard, was recorded as becoming an articled clerk and being born in Nolton, Bridge End, Glamorganshire, Wales, on 2 February, 1874, but their other brother, Cecil William Howard, is recorded as being born on 4 July 1875 in Tettenhall (and/or Newbridge) and sister, Evelyn M. Howard, were recorded as being born at Newbridge or Tettenhall. Brother Henry Bernard Howard was born in 1877 in Wolverhampton. Another sister, Clara M., was recorded as being born at Bushbury in 1883.
In 1891 Kenneth was shown on the census as boarding at a private school at 39 Tettenhall Road, where the head was Eliza Reach, originally from Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk. The rest of the family were shown at Gorsebrook House, Bushbury.
Kenneth attended Wolverhampton Grammar School from 1891-1892 but he does not appear on the War Memorial there. However, a plaque was placed on a wall near the wooden panelled memorial recording his name, alongside those of the four masters who died during the War, after other First World War research revealed his connection with the school .
In 1901 he was at the House of the Society of the Sacred Mission, Mildenhall, Suffolk, where he is described as a student. Alfred Kelly, the head of the household, was the younger brother of society founder Herbert Kelly. The Society moved to Kelham, Nottinghamshire, two years later. Kenneth’s two grandfathers were both clergymen, so may have influence him being with the mission.
In 1907, at the age of 27, Kenneth was at Durham University, where he was a Non-Collegiate student and a member of St Cuthbert’s Society. He played cricket and rowed in the university’s Grey Cup Competition. He spoke in Union debates, and in his entry on the University roll of honour mentions a report in the Durham University Journal (vol XV111 no.11) in which he proposed that “The secular system is the only solution of the present education problem”. This was defeated by 29 votes to 5. His speeches were described as “clever but never really grasped the subject” and containing “some more false qualities and epigrams.” Despite this, he kept debating and held different offices, passing his first year Arts examinations in arithmetic and logic in summer 1908. There is no attendance record for the following Michaelmas term but he did attend Epiphany, Easter and Michaelmas terms in 1909, studying arithmetic and political economy.
There is no record of him completing his BA. By 1911 the census shows him as being an Assistant Master at the Royal School. In August 1914 he was a private in ‘A’ Company of the 79th Public Schools Battalion 16th Middlesex Regiment, who applied for a commission. He attested on 5 September 1914 and continued with the Public Schools Battalion until he was commissioned into the 4th (Extra Reserve) Battalion of the Sherwood Foresters (Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire Regiment) on 17 May 1915.
He was gazetted a Second Lieutenant in 1916 and a Lieutenant in July 1917, shortly afterwards becoming a temporary Captain “without pay and allowances” while employed as Brigade Physical Training Officer and bayonet training supervising officer and remained seconded. On 3 September 1918 he joined the 1st Battalion of the Sherwood Foresters in the Oppy sector, near Arras, France. His Battalion War Diary (WO 95/1721/4) says that, while serving with ‘D’ Company, he was mortally wounded by a sniper during action on the Rouveroy-Fresnes line near Oppy during the Second Battle of Arras: “In a fierce fight the counterattack was repulsed but Captain Kenneth Salway Howard was killed.”
His medal card shows that he was awarded the silver British War Medal 1914-1920 and the bronze Victory Medal 1914-1919. He is buried in Roclincourt Military Cemetery.
Kenneth’s brother, Henry, enlisted on the 19th July 1915 and survived with the Army Service Corps (Private Service number SS/13123) and the Labour Corps (Private Service Number 30229) leaving on the 7th March 1918 and being awarded the Victory Medal, British War Medal and the 1914 Star.
His eldest brother, Arthur Edward, served with the Canadian forces and Cecil was ordained, served in the Soloman Islands and then as a parish priest in New Zealand during the war.