Lillie Dicks

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This blog post has been contributed by volunteer, Susan Martin.

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The name of Lily Dicks on the roll of honour of the Queen Street Congregational Church has caused a considerable amount of interest amongst researchers of the Wolverhampton war memorials. Women’s names appear rarely on WW1 memorials. Her Red Cross card has been found showing she was a VAD during 1915, as have her details on census returns and a marriage on the GRO index to a Thomas Howard in the first quarter of 1916. But what happened to her, and why she is on the Roll of Honour remained a mystery.

Ellen Gertrude Lily Dicks was born in Wolverhampton in 1873. Her father was Alfred Dicks who originated from Burghclere, Hampshire and her mother Hannah Eliza, born Clarkson. Alfred was a master draper and later a commercial traveller in drapery. For most of Lily’s life the family lived at 5 George Street, though by the 1911 census had moved to 8 St Catherine’s, Finchfield. Lily had two older sisters, Emma and Alice, two younger brothers Albert (who died aged 15) and Frank and a younger sister Daisy. On the 1891 census Lily was still a scholar. In 1901 she was at Ivy House, Rolleston, Staffordshire working as a nurse in the household of Samuel Higgott a landowner. The 1911 census shows she was back with her parents, with no occupation given.

The 1901 census described her as a hospital nurse. However I have been unable to find any record showing her to be a qualified nurse. If she had a nursing qualification I feel she would have worked as one after the outbreak of war rather than joining the Red Cross as a VAD. The Queen Street Roll of Honour of those serving 1914-1915 lists her as a nurse with three others. The family had originally been members of Lea Road Church, a satellite of Queen Street but started worshipping in the Queen Street Church not long before 1914. Lily started as a VAD on 20/1/1915 and served in the T.N. Department. I have not been able to find out what that did. Her service finished on 20/9/1915, possibly because she was contemplating marriage. On 25/1/1916 she married Thomas Howard in Wolverhampton Register Office. On the marriage certificate he is described as a 62 year old widow, retired draughtsman son of Robert Howard licensed victualler deceased. He was living at 47 Watsons Lane, South Shore, Blackpool. The witnesses were Lily’s brother and sister-in-law Frank and Elizabeth Dicks.

How had Lily met Thomas? Possibly her VAD work had taken her to Blackpool, or possibly when visiting her sister Emma who was head mistress at a school in Fleetwood in 1911. Thomas would have moved to Blackpool between 1911 and 1915. He was born in Liverpool, but lived all his married life in Preston working as an engineering draughtsman. At the time of his marriage he was probably 67 (calculated from the ages always given on census returns) and may have dropped a few years to narrow the gap in their ages. His first wife Mary Jane known as Jenny had died in 1899 aged 49. They had seven children, four alive in 1911.

Lily’s marriage was short lived. She died on 26/9/1916 in Toxteth Park Workhouse Infirmary, Liverpool. Although a workhouse infirmary, by this time it acted as a general hospital. The brief announcement of her death in the Express and Star 4 October stated it had followed a painful illness. Her cause of death came as a surprise – (1) syphilis (2) gangrene of the larynx. Syphilis was widespread at the time, so much so that in 1913 a Commission established by the Government recommended a high profile education campaign on sexually transmitted diseases. I understand the larynx is frequently attacked by syphilis, causing gangrene. This can be in either the secondary or tertiary stages of the disease. How long it takes for syphilis to develop varies greatly from individual to individual but it is very likely that she had contracted it before her marriage. Her home address at time of death was 47 Watsons Lane, South Shore. She left £41 7s 6d.

I have not been able to trace Thomas Howard’s death. Why was Lily commemorated on the Roll of Honour? Her mother died in 1917 but her father lived to 1935 dying in Hagley Villas, 49 Broad Lane, Bradmore. Her sister Emma continued living there until her death in 1946. How much were the family told about her death? Might they have believed that her illness had in some way been caused by her VAD work? So Lily Dicks on the Queen Street Congregational Church roll of honour still remains a mystery.

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William Gerald Davies

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This post has been contributed by Susan Martin, one of the volunteers on the Queen Street project.

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William’s birth registration was 1895 2nd quarter, Wolverhampton but his attestation paper gives his date of birth 1/3/1894. William probably went by the name of Gerald as this was his name on the Queen Street Congregational Church roll of honour and this is what he will be referred to. He was the third child and only son of George Edward and Frances Elizabeth Davies (nee Harley). His parents had married in St Peter’s Church Wolverhampton on the 25 September 1892. William Gerald had two older sisters Lilian (born 1892) and Gladys (born 1893). His father died on 30 December 1899 aged 32. Gerald was five at the time, and the family was living at 14 Victoria Street. George’s estate was £228 12s. The 1901 census, taken just over three months after George’s death, records Gerald’s mother Frances, aged 30 as a boot and shoe dealer and the family were living 16 Bath Road. On the 1911 census she is still a boot dealer. She and her three children were then at 68 Chapel Ash. Gerald was a clerk working for a merchant. His family were members of the Queen Street Congregational Church.

Between the April 1911 census and November 1915 Gerald emigrated to Canada. He may have been the G Davies clerk who travelled to Montreal from Liverpool on the ship Victorian on 4/11/1913., He attested for the Canadian army on 4 November 1915 in Calgary. He was 5ft 6inches tall with blue eyes and dark eyes. He gave his occupation as “accountant” and religious affiliation “Congregational”. Gerald served in the A company 25th Battalion Canadian Infantry (Nova Scotia Regiment). Gerald died on 8 August 1918 and his buried at Crucifix Corner Cemetery Villers-Bretonneux. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission records his mother as living at 23 Balfour Crescent. Frances Davies died in 1923.

Victor Craddock (1884)

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The research for this post has been completed by Susan Martin, volunteering for the Queen Street project.

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Victor was born in 1894 in Wolverhampton, one of the eight children of George and Lucy Craddock. His older brother Reginald (born 1888 in Wolverhampton) was also killed in 1918. The other siblings were Percy, Richard, Albert, George Henry, Matilda and Florence. George Craddock was a boot manufacturer, in partnership with his brother Stephen. They were born in Northampton which of course was a boot and shoe making centre. In 1891 the Craddocks were at 27 Victoria Street, but by 1901 had moved to Park Road, number 14. Ten years later the 1911 shows them at Lyndale Number 45 Park Road.

Victor was a 2nd Lt in 5th Battalion South Staffordshire Regiment. He died on 11 October 1918 and is buried at Bellicourt British cemetery. Administration of Victor’s estate of £2126 2s 9d was given to his father George Craddock. George himself died at Lyndale on 31 July 1928 leaving £45965 13s 9d. Lucy died on 9/9/1931 at Stow House, Castlecroft Gardens leaving £129 8s 4d. Victor is remembered on the Queen Street Congregational Church roll of honour. He has often been confused with Victor Joseph Edward Craddock (including by myself when I started researching the men on the Queen Street Congregational Church roll of honour).

Horace George Turvey

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The younger brother of Alfred Turvey, Horace was born in Wolverhampton on 1 March 1895. He was baptised in St Andrew’s Church, Wolverhampton, on 12 October 1899. Like his brother, Alfred, he was also employed by the railways, working as a cleaner for Great Western Railways from 15 January 1912 at Oxley. On 10 November 1913 he was transferred to be a fireman. His work was not without incident, however. On 16 February 1915, during shunting operations at Banbury, another engine collided with the one he was on, and he was thrown against the bunker, bruising his right wrist.

From 26 November 1915, Horace served first as a Gunner and then as a Bombardier with the Royal Field Artillery in France (service number L/5263). He survived the war and was discharged.

Horace carried on working for Great Western Railways until well into the 1950s. There was a further incident when he was shovelling coal from the footplate to the tender on 27 May 1920. His right thumb came into contact with the vacuum cock, and was bruised. He married Elsie M. Williams in Wolverhampton in 1920. He died in 1975.

William Sheargold

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William was born in Wolverhampton in 1895, the son of Arthur and Ellen Sheargold. In 1901 they were living at 253A Great Brickkiln Street, together with William’s brothers Arthur and Charles, and sister Nellie. By 1911, William was living at 75 Church Road, Bradmore, with his uncle George Mason. He had become an iron and brass turner.

From 23 September 1914, William served with the Army Service Corps (number MS/3157) and then the South Lancashire Regiment (number 32392). William survived the war, and his name is listed on the memorial of Penn Road Wesleyan Chapel.

William married Elsie M. Deacon in Wolverhampton in 1923, and they had three children – Barbara M. (1926), Lorna B. (1929) and June M. (1933). William died on 18 March 1936, by which date his address was May Cottage, Church Road, Bradmore. The value of his effects was £400.

Percy Arthur Rock

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Percy was born in Wolverhampton in 1895. He was the son of Frederick William and Agnes Rock, and in 1901 they were living at 81 Leicester Street, Wolverhampton, together with Percy’s siblings Frederick and Elsie. They were at 4 Dalton Street by 1911, and Percy had three more siblings – Wilfred Purshall, Harry and Eleanor. By this date, Percy was a clerk for a railway company.

Percy served as a Sergeant with the Army Ordnance Corps (number 015605). A discussion about some of his military service can be seen here. Percy survived the war.

Percy married Dorothy Rose Bott in Wolverhampton in 1924, but the couple do not appear to have had any children. Percy died in Wolverhampton on 4 September 1945, by which date his address was 2 Cedar Grove, Penn Fields, Wolverhampton. The value of his effects was £1356 16s. 9d.

Albert Thomas Parry

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Albert was born in Wolverhampton in 1886, the son of Edward and Mary A. Parry. They were living at 42 Wolverhampton Road, Sedgley in 1901, together with Albert’s siblings George S. and Sarah I. Albert was a pupil teacher. They were at 10 Wolverhampton Road in 1911, and Albert had become an assistant Ironmonger.

Albert’s name is listed on the memorial of the Penn Road Wesleyan Chapel as a man who served but survived the war. I have not, however, been able to confirm details of his military service. I have also not been able to find out further details about his life.

Harold James Newman

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Harold was born in Wolverhampton in 1887, the son of Charles Higgs and Betsy Newman. They were at 42 Oxley Street, Wolverhampton in 1901, and by 1911, they were living at 18 Hughes Street, together with Harold’s brothers Frederick George and Cecil, and sister Constance. Harold was a carter.

On 24 July 1915, he enlisted in the 20th Battalion of the Manchester Regiment (number 26157). His address by this date was 10 Oxley Street, Wolverhampton, and his trade was a groom. He rose to become Lance Corporal. On 7 May 1917, the Express & Star reported that he had been wounded, having received a gun shot wound in the left thigh. He was discharged on 8 December 1917, due to “mania”. However, while he was in the operating theatre at New Cross Hospital, Wolverhampton, in 1924, his Character Certificate and Discharge Certificates were stolen, and he applied to have them replaced, although he still had not received them by 1938.

Harold married Elsie M. Ashley in Manchester in 1934, but the couple do not appear to have had any children. Harold died in Stafford in 1950.

William Mattocks

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William was born in Wolverhampton in 1899, the son of George and Sarah A. Mattocks. They were living at 59 Rookery Street, Wednesfield in 1901, along with William’s brothers George and Thomas. They were at 48 Rookery Street in 1911, together with additional siblings Albert, Sarah and Sidney. At some point, William started work at the Weldless Steel Tube Company Limited.

William appears on their Roll of Honour as an employee who served during the First World War, but I have been unable to confirm details of his military service. He appears to have survived the war. He married Grace Beatrice Lowndes in Wolverhampton in 1929, and the couple had two children – Kenneth B. (1934) and Terence A. (1935). Sadly, both children died in infancy. William himself died in Rowley Regis on 27 June 1963, and left effects to the value of £809 8s.

William Light

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William was born on 9 August 1888. His navy records state that he was born in Wolverhampton, but I have been unable to confirm these details. He became a collier. He married Florence Till in Cannock in 1916.

On 10 December 1912, he enlisted in the Royal Navy (number SS/113151), and served on the Victory II, the Albemarle and the Queen Mary. He was killed in action on 31 May 1916. He is remembered on the Portsmouth Naval Memorial. By the time of his death, his wife’s address was given as Calf Health, Four Ashes, Wolverhampton. Florence married a Harry Crosby in Cannock in 1921.