A very rare 20lb German incendiary bomb casing, which was dropped on Walsall in 1916 during the Great War, has gone on show in a new display at Walsall Museum.
The bomb casing, which is so rare that it may be the only one held in a British museum, is believed to be one of those dropped on Walsall during the night of 31 January 1916, when the Black Country suffered one of the heaviest air raids of the ‘war to end all wars’.
Tipton, Bradley, Wednesbury and Walsall were bombed by two Zeppelins, leaving 35 people dead. One bomb landed on Wednesbury Road Congregational Church, but thankfully no-one was killed, while another landed in Bradford Place, and claimed the lives of three people, including 55-year-old Mary Julia Slater, the Mayoress of Walsall.
She was a passenger on the number 16 tram when the bomb hit, and suffered severe wounds to the chest and abdomen. She was taken to hospital and died a few weeks later on February 20th from shock and septicaemia.
Walsall’s Cenotaph now stands on the spot where this bomb landed and also destroyed the public toilets in the gardens outside the Science & Art Institute, which is why new ones were later built beneath Sister Dora’s statue on The Bridge.
Also on display in the museum is a fragment of leaded window from the Wednesbury Road Congregational Church, the roof of which was destroyed during the raid.
The display, entitled Walsall’s Zeppelin Raid, can be seen in Walsall Museum’s local history gallery, The Changing Face of Walsall, from Tuesday 1 November until Saturday 3 December 2011, and is particularly poignant at this time of year.
The bomb casing no longer contains any incendiary material and is certified as safe.
For further information on the display please contact Walsall Museum on 01922 653116 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.