This post has been prepared by one of our volunteers, Ann Eales.
John Merrick appears on the Commonwealth War Grave Commission website, and the Bilston Town Memorial has details too. Bilston Town Memorial is between Railway Drive and Oxford Street. Three plaques, one for each of the three Bilston Wards, are set on a wall, and record the names of the Bilston men who fought and died in both World Wars. The New Town Ward plaque has information as follows:
MERRICK JOHN FRANCIS HENRY
2nd Bn Royal Fusiliers Formerly 84605 Royal Field Artillery
Killed in Action 01/07/1916
Son of Mrs. Sarah Jane Merrick of 49 Ashley St. Bilston.
Grave/Memorial Reference: Pier and Face 8 C 9 A and 16 A. Cemetery: THIEPVAL MEMORIAL
In the Midland Counties Express of 18th November 1916 this photograph appears, and we read:
A GALLANT BILSTON MAN PROUD TO “DO HIS BIT”.
Private John F H Merrick, who was the eldest son of Mrs Merrick, 49 Ashley Street Bilston joined the Army on January 26th 1915, and in October of the same year proceeded to the scene of battle with a section of the Royal Fusiliers. He met a gallant death while in action on July 1st, and when he was 31 years of age. This stalwart Bilstonian who in civil life was an employee of Councillor J Sylvester was educated at the Wesleyan School Darlaston. His bereaved relatives also include sisters and brothers. One of the latter is at present ‘doing his bit’ and his friends will wish him a safe return when duty is finished.
His medal index card records that the Theatre of war he first served in was the Balkans, date of entry 15-12-1915. No other military records for John Merrick seem to have survived.
The birth of John Francis H Merrick was registered at Walsall in the quarter ended December 1884. The 1891 census has the Merrick family living at 7 Darlaston Road, Moxley. John age 50 is a Bricklayer, born at Wrexham N Wales, his wife Sarah, age 36, was born at West Bromwich. Daughters Mary M age 15 and Sarah age 8 were born at Moxley as were their 3 brothers, John age 6,Victor age 3 and Fred age 1.
By the time of the 1901 Census Sarah, age 45, was widowed, working on her own account as a Laundress, and living at 41 High Street, Moxley with her 8 children, Martha age 26 also a Laundress, Mary Skitt age 25, now married, John 16 occupation Groom (domestic), Victor 13, Fred 11, Elsie age 9, Alexander 5, Lily 8 months and William Skitt, son in law, age 35, Occupation Iron plate worker like Sarah’s children, at Moxley.
In 1911 the census form, signed by John Marrick, has Sarah as age 56, no occupation shown, living at no: 30 Oxford St, Bilston with John age 26, occupation Carter, General Carrier industry, Victor age 23 also a Carter, Fred age 21 a General Labourer, Elsie age 19, Alexander age 15. Learning Pipe Fitting at a Steel Works, and Lily now age 10.