Category Archives: Great War

‘Sorrow into Pride’ Elmore Green memorial book special price

Barry Crutchley (left) and Ken Wayman with their new book

A very special book about the men on the Elmore Green School Great War Memorial is now available again at a very special price (see below), exclusively from Blakenall Village Centre – but hurry, time is short!

Sorrow into Pride tells the story of the social and military history of the ‘old boys’ of Elmore Green School, Bloxwich, who went off to fight in the First World War.  Written by two retired teachers and local historians, Barry Crutchley and Ken Wayman (pictured, above, at the launch), the book reveals the search for a ‘lost’ war memorial, the stories of the commemorated lads and its re-adoption by the original school.

Sorrow into Pride
Sorrow into Pride

Elmore Green School Old Boys’ Association war memorial was unveiled in the school hall in 1922.  It commemorated the sacrifice made by former pupils of the school in the Great War of 1914-18, listing sixty-seven ‘old boys’ of what was then Elmore Green Central School, later High School, who gave their young lives in “the war to end all wars”, some not passing away until 1919.  It had been moved from the school in 1958 when the secondary functions of Elmore Green High School were transferred to the new T.P. Riley Comprehensive, not far away in Lichfield Road.

The memorial quietly became part of the life of the new school until, in 2001, T.P. Riley was demolished and replaced by the present Walsall Academy, which opened in 2003.  It was around this time that the finely carved marble sculpture by Bloxwich-born Frederick T. Perry “disappeared” from the public eye.  In fact, it had been put into storage because it was not required by the academy, but for a long time this was forgotten.

Over the following years, various people including Bloxwich local historians Edna Marshall, Barry Crutchley and ex-T.P. Riley history teacher Ken Wayman, had tried to find and raise the profile of the missing memorial and eventually, following convoluted enquiries via the Academy and within Walsall Council departments, in late 2010 it was tracked down to the premises of monumental masons A. Walker & Sons of Cannock, who had been storing it safely since the demolition of T.P. Riley years ago.

Following work done by Walsall Council officers Mike Gaffney and the now late Elaine Box, funding was found from the Council to have the memorial returned to its original home in March 2011, when it was mounted on the wall of the school hall by the masons who had preserved it.  On Armistice Day that year, a special service of re-dedication was held at the school, truly bringing the memorial home.

Barry Crutchley (left) and Ken Wayman ponder the men on the memorial.
Barry Crutchley (left) and Ken Wayman ponder the men on the memorial.

Sorrow into Pride traces the families and experiences of the lads named on the alabaster memorial, as well as one Old Boy who for some unknown reason was omitted from the list. In addition, the events leading to the deaths of ten servicemen closely related to those commemorated are examined, showing how the war affected their wider families; moreover, a number of related servicemen who fought in the Great War have been bound into the tale.

Now re-adopted by the school community from whence it came, the war memorial has re-invigorated the local community and brought forward numerous descendants of the Old Boys, furnishing invaluable information, precious photographs and memorabilia.

The authors owe a debt of gratitude to the present school community and its enthusiastic head-teacher Jane Humphreys, staff and pupils – following the hard work of local historians and council officers, they gave the war memorial’s story an unexpected happy ending.

New Horizons Community Enterprise, which runs the Blakenall Village Centre and a number of local projects and activities, is proud to have sponsored the publishing of the book, which adds an important chapter to the history of Bloxwich and its people.

The 458-page profusely illustrated softback book is published by Tommies Guides under the Reveille Press imprint with the ISBN: 978-1-908336-44-6.  

BARGAIN BOOKS

The normal retail price is £18.99 plus postage, but for a short period – until the end of April 2013 – signed copies of the books can be obtained for just £11.40 each or 2 books for £20, exclusively from Reception, Blakenall Village Centre, Thames Rd, Blakenall Heath, Monday-Friday 9am-5pm.  Please note – cash purchases only.

For further information and to order Sorrow into Pride, please contact Terri Wall, Service Manager of Blakenall Village Centre  – email terri.wall@nhce.org.uk or telephone 01922 714900.

Bloxwich historians turn ‘Sorrow into Pride’

Barry Crutchley (left) and Ken Wayman with their new book

Last Friday a quiet, poignant and significant event in the history of Bloxwich took place at Blakenall Village Centre: the launch of a new book about the men on the Elmore Green School Great War Memorial.

Sorrow into Pride tells the story of the social and military history of the ‘old boys’ of Elmore Green School, Bloxwich, who went off to fight in the First World War.  Written by two retired teachers and local historians, Barry Crutchley and Ken Wayman (pictured, above, at the launch), the book reveals the search for a ‘lost’ war memorial, the stories of the commemorated lads and its re-adoption by the original school.

Sorrow into Pride
Sorrow into Pride

Elmore Green School Old Boys’ Association war memorial was unveiled in the school hall in 1922.  It commemorated the sacrifice made by former pupils of the school in the Great War of 1914-18, listing sixty-seven ‘old boys’ of what was then Elmore Green Central School, later High School, who gave their young lives in “the war to end all wars”, some not passing away until 1919.  It had been moved from the school in 1958 when the secondary functions of Elmore Green High School were transferred to the new T.P. Riley Comprehensive, not far away in Lichfield Road.

The memorial quietly became part of the life of the new school until, in 2001, T.P. Riley was demolished and replaced by the present Walsall Academy, which opened in 2003.  It was around this time that the finely carved marble sculpture by Bloxwich-born Frederick T. Perry “disappeared” from the public eye.  In fact, it had been put into storage because it was not required by the academy, but for a long time this was forgotten.

Over the following years, various people including Bloxwich local historians Edna Marshall, Barry Crutchley and ex-T.P. Riley history teacher Ken Wayman, had tried to find and raise the profile of the missing memorial and eventually, following convoluted enquiries via the Academy and within Walsall Council departments, in late 2010 it was tracked down to the premises of monumental masons A. Walker & Sons of Cannock, who had been storing it safely since the demolition of T.P. Riley years ago.

Following work done by Walsall Council officers Mike Gaffney and the now late Elaine Box, funding was found from the Council to have the memorial returned to its original home in March 2011, when it was mounted on the wall of the school hall by the masons who had preserved it.  On Armistice Day that year, a special service of re-dedication was held at the school, truly bringing the memorial home.

Barry Crutchley (left) and Ken Wayman ponder the men on the memorial.
Barry Crutchley (left) and Ken Wayman ponder the men on the memorial.

Now, Sorrow into Pride traces the families and experiences of the lads named on the alabaster memorial, as well as one Old Boy who for some unknown reason was omitted from the list. In addition, the events leading to the deaths of ten servicemen closely related to those commemorated are examined, showing how the war affected their wider families; moreover, a number of related servicemen who fought in the Great War have been bound into the tale.

Now re-adopted by the school community from whence it came, the war memorial has re-invigorated the local community and brought forward numerous descendants of the Old Boys, furnishing invaluable information, precious photographs and memorabilia.

The authors owe a debt of gratitude to the present school community and its enthusiastic head-teacher Jane Humphreys, staff and pupils – following the hard work of local historians and council officers, they gave the war memorial’s story an unexpected happy ending.

Pupils read the Elmore Green Roll of Honour at a Remembrance service on 11 November this year
Pupils read the Elmore Green Roll of Honour at a Remembrance service on 11 November this year

New Horizons Community Enterprise, which runs the Blakenall Village Centre and a number of local projects and activities, is proud to have sponsored the publishing of the new book, which adds an important chapter to the history of Bloxwich and its people.

Friday’s launch was hosted by the Chair of New Horizons, Tom Perrett MBE, presented by the authors and attended by descendants of the Elmore Green ‘old boys’ and other contributors, including Stuart Williams, Editor of The Bloxwich Telegraph, who wrote the Foreword and a special dedication to the late Elaine Box of Walsall Council, who was instrumental in returning the memorial to its rightful home.

Barry Crutchley chats to descendants of Elmore Green heroes at the launch
Barry Crutchley chats to descendants of Elmore Green heroes at the launch
Ken Wayman talks to Elmore Green Primary School head Jane Humphreys about the book
Ken Wayman talks to Elmore Green Primary School head Jane Humphreys about the book

The 458-page profusely illustrated softback book is published by Tommies Guides under the Reveille Press imprint with the ISBN: 978-1-908336-44-6, and is available to order via New Horizons at £18.99 plus postage.

For further information and to order Sorrow into Pride, please contact Terri Wall, Service Manager of Blakenall Village Centre  – email terri.wall@nhce.org.uk or telephone 01922 714900.

For more pictures taken at the book launch, check out our Flickr Album.

Archivist to reveal true story of Walsall Zeppelin Raid in public talk

L19 Zeppelin

Archivist Paul Ford is all set to reveal the secrets of the 1916 Walsall Zeppelin Raid in a public talk at Walsall Local History Centre on Monday 3 December.

In the talk, which starts at 7.30pm, Paul will use the original police, coroners, council and other records to try to piece together not only the series of events that night, but also to answer some important questions about the wider context of the raid.

On 31 January – 1 February 1916, the Black Country night was turned to flame when German airships attacked Walsall, Wednesbury, Bradley and Tipton. This totally unexpected Great War bombing raid caused ‘universal shock’ across Walsall – claiming several lives and badly damaging a number of properties.

It is said the lights of the town were blazing away and the trams were running, making Walsall a sitting duck; but in truth, no detailed official report of the night’s events actually survives.

Today, the raid is largely forgotten in the town, save for a shrapnel hole and blue plaque in Bradford Place and a bronze plaque in the Council House that commemorates Walsall’s most famous victim – Mary Julia Slater, Walsall’s Mayoress.

Nearly 100 years on, it is time to re-examine one of the most extraordinary episodes in Walsall’s history and to remember those that were affected by it. This talk aims to set the record straight and shed light on a dark chapter in the story of the town.

Tickets for the talk cost just £2 and booking is essential, telephone 01922 721305 to book.

PLEASE NOTE THAT THE CENTRE’S ANSWERING MACHINE WILL BE ON ON MONDAY – so leave a message with your telephone number, asking staff to confirm your booking before making a journey.

Walsall Local History Centre is the archives service and local studies library for Walsall Metropolitan Borough, and is part of Walsall Council. For further information on the centre, telephone 01922 721305 or check out the centre’s website: http://www.walsall.gov.uk/localhistorycentre

Elmore Green hero’s Great War medals presented to school

Elmore Green - Ron Grimsley presents his uncle's medals to Jane Humphreys.

The very special occasion of Elmore Green Primary School’s annual service of remembrance was made even more poignant and significant on Friday by the surprise donation of a set of Great War medals to the historic Bloxwich school.

The medals, comprising two campaign medals plus the bronze ‘Dead Man’s Penny’ traditionally given to the families of servicemen killed in the First World War of 1914-1918 were awarded posthumously to Elmore Green School ‘old boy’ Lance Corporal William Ernest Grimsley, late of the 4th Battalion, South Staffordshire Regiment.

Lance Corporal Grimsley, who was killed during fighting in Belgium on 10th April 1918, is remembered on the Ploegsteert Memorial, at Comines-Warneton, Hainaut, Belgium, as well as on the Elmore Green School Great War Memorial which was returned to the school last year after spending decades at T.P. Riley Comprehensive School followed by several years at a mason’s yard after the demolition of that school.

Lance Corporal Grimsley's inscription on the school memorial.
Lance Corporal Grimsley’s inscription on the school memorial.

The medals were presented to the headteacher of Elmore Green Primary School, Jane Humphreys, by the nephew of W.E. Grimsley, Mr Ron Grimsley of Beechdale, Bloxwich, following the remembrance service (pictured, above).

Mr Grimsley is himself a veteran of the Korean War, during which he served in the Royal Navy aboard the Crown Colony-class cruiser HMS Jamaica.

Lance Corporal Grimsley features, along with the other men on the school memorial, in a new book, ‘Sorrow into Pride’, by local historians Ken Wayman and Barry Crutchley, which it is is hoped will be on sale either in December or January.