Burntwood Family History Group
   Home      Journal 2016 10-12 Volume 24 Number 4
Extracts from Burntwood Family History Group Journal
 
 
 
 
 
October - December 2016
 
 
 
 
Vol 24.4
 
Contents of this issue.
 
From the Chair1
Surprising Things About Death 2
The AGM for 2016 3
BFHG Accounts 2015–16 5
Membership and Advertisers 7
“I’ve already looked there” 8
Talks following the AGM 9
Review of Talk by Guest Speaker 12
Finding Mr. Mounstephen 15
The Memorial Project Joins Forces with Lux Muralis 17
No Feet of Clay 17
Births & Deaths – Extra Indexes and More 18
This Issue's Cover Photograph 19
More World War Weirdness 19
 
From the Chair
 
A warm welcome from the ‘Big Chair’ and the last one for 2016! Thank you to all who voted to keep me in the position as Chairman at the AGM. There have been some changes to the committee, as those of you who attended our AGM in September will already know. Pam Woodburn has stepped down from her position of Vice-Chair on the committee, but is not leaving the group. Thank you, Pam, for all of your work within the committee and the Memorial Project.
Long standing member and past committee member Barbara Williams has returned to the committee as Vice-Chair – welcome back, Barbara.  Our Monday evening meetings have been well attended on the whole, with a variety of speakers. Jane Leake, who has done a sterling job for us in finding these speakers, tells me that she has booked the speakers for all of 2017 already – thank you, Jane! Our Thursday evenings continue to be a mixed bag, with some well attended, some not. We have applied to Burntwood Town Council in their yearly grant scheme to cover the cost of a 12 month subscription to Ancestry. This seemed a popular choice to members when asked what they would like to see. Perhaps this will entice members back on Thursday evenings, if we are successful. How we will allocate access times, etc. if we are successful is something we will have to work out. A tour of the WWI Battlefields is being organised by Leger Tours next year, starting on 22nd April. We will be joining other parties on a coach with local pick up points. At the moment there are 14 interested members, and to get our own coach we would need 22 definite paying people.  We will be running our trip to ‘Who Do You Think You Are Live Show’ at the NEC, Birmingham, which runs from 6th to 8th April. We will be hiring a minibus with a driver, as we did this year. It’s a convenient way of getting there and back without the hassle of driving through traffic and finding car parking spaces. The group’s finances are still in a healthy state at present, so there will be no increase in subscriptions for the coming year, 2017. Your subscriptions for 2017 are due in January, and are still £8 for single membership and £12 for couples. For those of you unsure what to get as a Christmas present for a loved one, wife or husband even, this could be the ideal present! Talking of Christmas, our December meeting, which we usually have as a social evening, will follow the same popular format this year with optional fancy dress. We will also have our ‘Twixmas’ social gathering at a local hostelry just before New Year. For the past few years, we have met for a lunchtime carvery meal at ‘The Wych Elm’ pub, which has usually been attended by over a dozen of us, It’s not a wild, boozy affair, but a pleasant couple of hours relaxing over good food and company. Thank you for your support over the past year and for the coming year. Steve Bailey. BFHG Chairman 2016–2017
 
Surprising Things About Death
 
Death is the great unknown, but we know a lot more about dying than you may think... Here are just a few...
 
Within three days of death, the enzymes that once digested your dinner begin to eat you.
At least 1 in 25 people sentenced to the death penalty in the USA are innocent.
If you die in Amsterdam without any friends or family left to attend yourfuneral, a poet will write a poem for you and recite it at your funeral.
About 153,000 people will die on your birthday.
 
The AGM for 2016
 
This year’s annual general meeting was held on Monday 18th September 2016, at the Old Mining College Burntwood, at 7.30pm. There follows a brief summary of the meeting. The Group’s chairman, Steve Bailey, welcomed the members present. The Minutes of the 2015 AGM were taken as read, and there were no matters arising. The Chairman reported that the Group was holding its own in terms of numbers attending, although Thursday meetings are a mixed bag, with numbers unpredictable. The committee was concerned at the lack of younger people joining, as family history seems to be perceived to be an interest for older people. Committee is in the process of applying for a grant from the council, with the intention of applying for an Ancestry.co.uk subscription for our Thursday meeting. The council seem happy to have this software on their computers. Steve intended to put in an application by mid-September. This year’s trips have been good. The ‘Who Do You Think You Are’ show at the NEC was excellent. However, there was poor weather for the National Archives trip, which was organised for BFHG, with only a few going around the gardens and getting wet. The disposal of microfiche readers is a question still to be addressed. Currently, Steve has six stored in his house. The Treasurer’s report stated that finances remain secure, with membership and funds steady. On paper we appear to have a lot of money, but £3.500 is still awaiting expenditure on the Memorial Project. This needs to be spent, and we still have two years more of the Great War to get through. There has been a small loss on the trips in the last year, due mainly to the difficulties in planning. Membership is only slightly down, from 90 to 88, and also we have given life memberships. The numbers are consistent compared to other groups. Our main problem financially is that we have lost a few advertisers, because the companies concerned are doing so well they do not need to advertise. Our accounts are audited, and will continue to be so – the auditor is very thorough.
 
The Hon. Secretary discussed how many of the back issues of the journal we should keep. Alan Betts stated he has one of each, and suggested we dispose of the spares by putting them in, for example, the Doctor’s surgery, the village hall or on trains. The Webmaster’s report stated that the website is running smoothly, and the domain was due to be renewed at a cost of £90 in October. Alan reported that the website has had 42,000 hits over the last seven years. There was little additionally to report about the Memorial Project. The project is up and running again, and the website has been checked. New soldiers have been added, and next we will advertise for family members who lost someone in the two years to 1918. We need to spend the money allotted. The Meetings Secretary, who currently writes up talks for the Journal, asked for feedback if members have anything to add. CD sales are steady. Election of Officers was next on the agenda. The following were elected:

Chairman Steve Bailey
Vice Chair Barbara Williams
Hon Treasurer Chris Graddon
Hon Secretary Helen Bratton
 
We currently have six or seven committee members, but this could go up to ten. The intention to appoint a Publicity Officer was announced. This post was not filled at the AGM, but Keith Stanley has now been appointed to the role. In the ‘Any other business’ section of the meeting, here was a discussion around tea/coffee making as it always seems to fall on the same people. It was suggested we leave tea/coffee/sugar, to save time, and having to carry all these items about in the winter. A rota for refreshments will be imposed, so everyone is aware. Twelve people were now interested in the Battlefield tour trip, which will be on runs 22–26 May of next year. Chris asked that if there were any others thinking about this, then they needed to declare an interest.  After various thanks, the meeting closed, with the date of the next AGM set for 11/9/2017.

BFHG Accounts 2015–16

As presented at this year’s AGM, here is the Balance Sheet for the Group’s accounts from 1st August 2015 to 31st July 2016.
 
Income
Current A/C b/fwd                                                          £9,427.91
Cash in hand b/fwd                                                             £23.28
 
Balance b/fwd                                                                                      £9,451.19
 
Membership Fees Jan–Dec 2015                                           £24.00
Membership Fees Jan–Dec 2016                                         £596.00
Raffles                                                                             £274.00
Mon/Thurs Entry                                                                £369.00
CD Sales                                                                          £204.00
‘Who Do You Think You Are’ Trip April 2015                         £595.00
Magazine Adverts                                                              £190.00
Sundry income (sale of pedigree sheets and book marks)        £0.00
National Burial Index                                                             £0.00
Donations                                                                           £31.00
Grants from Burntwood Town Council, Staffordshire
County Council and Staffordshire Community Foundation      £272.00
 
TOTAL INCOME                                                             £2,555.00
INCOME OVER EXPENDITURE                                                                   -£462.79
GRAND TOTAL                                                                                       £8,988.40
 
Calculated Current A/C                                               £8,971.29
Cash in hand                                                                     £17.11
Calculated total balance                                              £8,988.40
 
Bank Balance 31/07/15                                                     £9,460.16
Outstanding cheque payments 2014–15,
not cashed as of 31 July 2015                                                £32.25
Funds banked                                                                   £2,201.00
Cheques paid out                                                              £2,657.62
Outstanding cheques                                                               £0.00
                                                                                     £8,971.29
 
Calculated current A/C                                                      £8,971.29
Outstanding cheques                                                               £0.00
Outstanding credits to bank account                                          £0.00
Calculated current A/C Balance on bank statement              £8,971.29
Actual amount on latest bank statement                              £8,971.29
Date of latest bank statement 29 July 2016
 
Expenditure
Administration                                                                         £2.50
Raffle expenses                                                                   £105.10
Refreshments                                                                        £23.37
CD s + P&P                                                                         £117.16
Insurance                                                                              £49.40
Web site                                                                                £90.00
Magazine printing and postage                                               £487.48
‘Who Do You Think You Are?’ Trip April 2016,
National Archives May 2016                                                   £620.25
Speakers                                                                             £410.00
Donations                                                                                £0.00
Xmas Quiz                                                                               £6.00
Books                                                                                      £0.00
Presentations                                                                           £0.00
Burntwood Memorial Project expenditure from
Burntwood Town Council Grant (£100)                                        £0.00
Room Hire                                                                            £770.00
Staffs Parish Reg Soc                                                                £0.00
New equipment & supplies:                                                        £0.00
Photocopying and laminating                                                    £22.44
Miscellaneous                                                                          £50.00
Burntwood Memorial Project expenditure
from Heritage Lottery Grant (£4000)                                        £264.09
TOTAL EXPENDITURE                                                         £3,017.79
 
Burntwood Memorial Project: Balance Sheet, 1st Aug 2015 to 21 Jul 2016
 
Income                                                               Expenditure                  Heritage         Staffordshire
                                                                                                                 Lottery           Community
                                                                                                                 Fund               Foundation
 
A/C b/fwd from 2014-15 £3,713.87                         Administration                   £0.00              £0.00
Cash in hand b/fwd              £0.00                          Refreshments                   £0.00              £0.00
Balance b/fwd                                £3,713.87       Insurance                         £0.00              £0.00
                                                                           Website subscription +
                                                                           website design software    £11.99              £0.00
Grants to BMP                                                       Speakers                           £0.00             £0.00
Donations to BMP                                                  Donations made by BMP      £0.00             £0.00
                                                                           Printer paper, printer ink,
                                                                           memory sticks                    £0.00              £0.00
                                                                           Document wallets and
                                                                           display books                    £16.50              £0.00
                                                                           Display materials used for
                                                                           public presentations             £9.01              £0.00
                                                                           Room hire                           £0.00              £0.00
                                                                           Resources purchased for
                                                                           soldier biographies               £3.00              £0.00
Total income                       £0.00                      Photocopying/laminating       £0.00              £0.00
                                                                           Subscriptions                    £223.59              £0.00
Income over expenditure              -£264.09      Equipment                           £0.00             £0.00
 
GRAND TOTAL                                £3,449.78      Total Expenditure             £264.09              £0.00
 
Calculated amount remaining
in the fund                                     £3,449.78
 
Membership as of 31 July 2016
 
                                                    2010–2011  2011–2012  2013 2014 2015 2016
 
No. of single paid up members         82              61               73           73           62           59
No. of couples paid up members      11                9               11           10             9           11
No. of life members                          2                2                 1             1            6             7
Total number of memberships         95               72               86           84           77           77
Total number of members             106               81               96           94           86           88
 
Total subs collected (£)                 800.00           596.00        716.00     689.00     604.00     596.00
 
Notes:
Six new members have joined BFHG this year
Five members have decided not to renew their subscriptions this year
14 members have yet to renew their BFHG subscriptions for this year and have received two reminders
 
Advertisers
 
At the start of August 2015, Burntwood Family History Group had 14advertisers. Of these, four advertised on the BFHG Website and 13advertised in the BFHG Journal. This year, for a variety of reasons, we lost five of our advertisers. One local business closed down, through retirement, and four others opted not to renew their adverts for a further year – two because they were now receiving far more work than they could handle. One of the firms that decided not to renew had previously advertised in both the Journal and on our website. We have succeeded in gaining four new advertisers for the BFHG Journal, which means that our advertising space in the BFHG Journal is once again completely filled. So, at the start of August 2016, Burntwood Family History Group had 13 advertisers, of whom three advertise on the BFHG Website and 12 advertise in the BFHG Journal. Our printers, Colour Graphics, are the only local firm to advertise only on
our website.
 
“I’ve already looked there” by Keith Stanley
 
When you have run out of new places to look for that elusive piece of information, how about revisiting some of the old places? I am not suggesting that you may have overlooked the ‘smoking gun’ clue. Competitive pressures mean that websites are always looking for new information to upload. Therefore, new records keep appearing. Almost inevitably, some are more useful than others.  I have been trawling through Irish Dog Licences on Find My Past. It doesn’t get
much more exciting than this! Registry Number 219 at Ballintobber Court, Roscommon, in 1876, records that John Stanly, of Islands, registered a black and white sheepdog. Entries 218 and 220 show that Michael Davey and John Flanagan, also registered their sheepdogs the same day. They, too, lived in Islands. My conclusion is that they were neighbours who travelled up to the Court together.  Incidentally, ‘Islands’ is the name of a Townland. There is no direct English  equivalent. Each one was relatively small, and often contained no more than a couple of dozen dwellings. Because the licences had to be renewed each year,this provides good information on the location of individuals. Records from the Irish Petty Sessions can now be searched. In September 1878, John Stanly of Cloverhill (a different John from the one with the dog license) alleged that Mr Farrell, also of Cloverhill, assaulted him. Bridget Stanley alleged that Catherine Farrell assaulted her on the same day. Catherine Farrell had been a witness at the marriage of John and Bridget’s daughter in March 1887. No one turned up for the hearing, so they must have gone back to being friends again. As with the dog licences, this fixes individuals to particular places and times. An Irish Government website (www.irishgenealogy.ie) was updated as recently as September 2016. The church records up to 1880 have been digitised. The following civil records are now searchable free of charge (GRO please take note!): Births, 1864 to 1915; Marriages, 1882 to 1940; and Deaths, 1891 to 1965. Furthermore, copies of the original images can be viewed. You can make up your own mind about what was meant by the scribbles. If all of this information had been available when I started, progress would have been a lot faster. However, the sense of achievement would probably have been reduced.
 
Talks following the AGM -Transcribed by Sheila Clarke -
 
Michael Jennings on ‘Further stories connected with the house with 12½ chimneys’
 
Treneere Manor, now a college, is a 17th century house built of Cornish stone, which had replaced a Tudor house. Mike’s uncle inherited it from the last surviving member of the Polglase family. In 1876, brothers Joseph and John Polglase purchased the house for £6,000 with proceeds from their mining enterprise in California. Mike’s talk contained a number of intriguing stories connected with the area, and the house.
 
Tin mining. Many of us have been watching the Poldark serial on television. Mike’s uncle, inherited Treneere Manor from the last of the Polglase unmarried sisters who had died without issue. His wife came from a family of tin miners. In his later years, he liked to walk along the coastal path between Levant and Botallack, near St Just – the stretch of coast now featured in Poldark. His uncle spoke of his wife’s relatives who died when the Man-engine collapsed down the shaft of the Levant tin mine in October 1919. 31 miners died on that day. The Levant, along with the Gevor mine, are now museums, and have been used in the programmes. It is possible to visit the Levant mine engine house and venture along one of the old dry tunnels. Miners followed the seam of tin and dug along it as far as they could. Sometimes this took the tunnels out under the sea, on occasion for 1½ miles. Miners said they could hear the rocks moving about on the sea bed above their head. When the mine closed, the sea broke through the tunnels. When attempts were made to repair and drain these tunnels, it was found that one was only a metre below the seabed!
 
The ghost cat and the rattling library door. Mike’s uncle kept the house furnishings and décor in the Victorian and Edwardian style he had inherited. Mike was very impressed when he visited as a child, particularly with the four-poster bed, an elaborately carved and inlaid piece of furniture. It realised £36,000 when it was sold in 2008. Mike always slept soundly when he visited, and did not see or hear a ghost in the house, However the bedridden old ladies of Traneere were always complaining that they could feel a cat jump onto their beds during the night, though no cats were allowed in the house. Other visitors, apart from Mike, have felt the same ghostly presence. The library door rattled and the knob turned on its own. The story told to Mike was that a house guest was fatally stabbed at the foot of the stairs and died by the library door. Intriguingly, when carpets were removed, a foot-square dark stain was uncovered by the library. Was this a bloodstain? No amount of scrubbing or bleaching either then or since has been able to remove the stain. On the other hand, no historic corroborative evidence for the crime has been uncovered … to date. Other stories included; The stolen garden seat and its return; The house water supply; Keeper the bull mastiff; The WW2 bombings; The grizzly bear’s eye; and The 1928 burglary at the house. With Michael Jennings’s permission, these stories could be included in future Journals.
 
Geoff Sorrell on ‘Errors in Transcriptions’. Geoff emphasised that we should always try to corroborate any information we obtain from secondary sources, by trying to see original documents. However Geoff showed that even these can suffer from human error. Over the years, the Church of Latter Day Saints (‘the Mormons’) have transcribed family history records, and their records can be a useful first step when starting out on our family history quest, particularly as they are free to browse. Our group has taken part in transcription projects. When the 1881 census was put online, Geoff tried to find Arthur Sorrell. It took him a long time to find him. Eventually, he was discovered – but somehow, his name had been transcribed as ‘Aeurthur’. If a relative seems to be missing from the records they may be there, but their name may have been transcribed incorrectly. In fact, any part of a record is open to human error. It was almost as though Arthur Sorrell did not exist, or at least had never been born. Geoff had no luck finding his birth certificate. Geoff knew that he must have been born in the early days of registration, around 1839, and perhaps this baby had slipped through the registration net. When Geoff looked at all the Sorrell births in the Burford area of Oxfordshire, one looked promising. Geoff showed us the certificate. In all respects, it was correct; certainly, Arthur’s parents were correct. However, the registrar had entered Arthur’s name as ‘Martha’. Geoff is sure that the registrar wrote down the name incorrectly. When he checked the 1841 census, although no relationships are recorded, Arthur is there, aged 2, together with two adults who were his parents. Unfortunately, errors can only be rectified during the lifetime of the person on the certificate, and then this is done by a note being added to the error. Other errors Geoff mentioned also occurred in the 1881 transcription, where the name ‘Jabez’ was transcribed as ‘Toby’. Geoff’s great grandfather Edward Lockley was born in 1840. On his birth certificate, his father was recorded as ‘James Lockley’. On the 1851 census, it becomes clear that James’s grandmother had registered Edward as her own son with a fictitious father, but on the census Edward is recorded as the son of her daughter Charlotte. As Geoff pointed out, we can never be one hundred percent sure that our records are entirely correct. As a final warning, he reminded us to always look at the original census returns, if possible. Alfred, a member of his family, was missing from the transcription of the 1851 census because the transcriber had omitted to look at a following page in the original records.
 
Keith Stanley on ‘Errors in stone’. Keith’s talk reinforces Geoff’s warning to never take anything as gospel – even, as Keith found out, when it is written in stone. At a few minutes past 11.00 on the night of 1st June 1942, a Wellington Bomber of 142 Squadron left Grimsby airfield as part of a planned raid on Essen in Germany. Sergeant William Stanley was one of the crew. The port side engines began to fail, and so the plane was forced to turn back. Five miles from the airfield, the Wellington crashed near Thoresby Bridge, at 22 minutes past 12 on the 2nd of June. Unfortunately, the plane burst into flames on impact, and all but one of the crew, the rear gunner, were killed. It is stated in the records that William Stanley has no known grave. The other dead crew members were buried near Grimsby. Two of the crew members were Canadian, and Keith believes one was American, so he suggests that it was decided not to send their bodies home. Erroneously, the clerk assumed that because he had not been buried in Grimsby, Sergeant Stanley’s body was missing. He has even been recorded as such on the Runneymede Memorial. However, as Keith knows, the family had the choice of burial place, and Sergeant Stanley’s body was sent home and buried in a cemetery in Brighton! Keith Stanley’s story is a warning to all of us that even ‘official’ information may not be true.
 
Review of Talk by Guest Speaker - Reviewer: Sheila Clarke
 
0ctober 2016: Paul Bedford on ‘Not Just a Name’.
 
Paul Bedford said that for several years of his working life he had had a ‘proper job’, and then he had become a history teacher! In his talk, he covered three main battles on the Western front of World War I: Loos, the Somme and Passchendaele (Ypres).
 
The battle of Loos began on 25 September 1915, and was suspended on 28 September 1915. The British Army were in a supporting role to the French. Field Marshal Sir John French was in charge of the British Army, and Douglas Haig (GOC 1st Army). They argued that the area around was unsuitable terrain for the battle, with its slagheaps and pit head towers in the hands of the enemy. The Germans had also constructed a second line of defence behind the first. The debate continued throughout August, with Joffre siding with his commander Ferdinand Foch, so Sir John French lost the argument. Kitchener, the Secretary of State for War, overruled his generals, partly because it was suggested to him that, because the Russians were weakening on the Eastern Front, they may drop out of the war if the Germans were not faced with greater resistance in the west. Plans for the battle were put in place. Haig planned that the British should use gas to shorten the offensive. The Germans had first used gas at Ypres in 1914, which had caused panic among the allies. Soldiers were told that removing their socks and urinating on them would neutralise the gas if held in front of their noses. Unfortunately, Haig was instructed to lengthen the extent of the front line so that, in the end, the amount of gas supplied was not adequate for the area. Also, the machine gun emplacements were too widely spaced to weaken the German gunfire, and the quality and quantity of hand grenades and shells inferior to those used by the Germans. Fluctuating wind conditions caused the gas, though effective in the south of the line, to blow towards the British troops in the north. The gas masks supplied restricted breathing, and many soldiers removed them because they could not see through the eye pieces, thus succumbing to the gas although most recovered. Several types of gas were used during the war, including chlorine, phosgene and mustard gas. Soldiers from the Burntwood area would have been familiar with the landscape, with the spoils and slag heaps of the mining industry. However, the pit head towers used in France and Flanders would have been unfamiliar to them. Miners were often used throughout the war to dig tunnels, so that mines could be placed close to the German trenches. More than 6,300 men were casualties on the 25th September, the first day of battle. The shelling of German positions had little effect in destroying the barbed wire. Even so, advances were made on that day, but were not consolidated because the reinforcements asked for by Haig did not arrive in time, as they had been kept too far behind the line. During the lull, the Germans were able to regroup. A high proportion of commanding officers killed and wounded, meant that leadership was reduced and piecemeal. By 28th September, after incurring 20,000 casualties, the offensive had ground to a halt, and ground gained by the Allies had been recaptured by the Germans. The casualties from this area were fairly light at the Battle of Loos – one soldier from Chasetown, none from Chase Terrace, one from Burntwood, and none from Hammerwich. More men from the Hednesford area were killed. Two brothers were killed on the same day. Another man saw his captain lying injured and went to help, but both were then killed by an exploding shell. During the battle of the Somme, there were eight fatalities from among soldiers from Chasetown, five from Chase Terrace (with two more dying later), seven from Burntwood with another dying later, and three from Hammerwich. At Ypres, there was one fatality from Chasetown, two from Chase Terrace, three from Burntwood and two from Hammerwich. Paul went on tell us about some of the men who died, and about the families they left behind and their occupations prior to enlistment. Although it was more common for local men to join the South Staffordshire Regiment, this was not always the case. Men joined a variety of regiments. Recruiting for a particular Regiment occurred far from the regimental base in another part of the country entirely.
 
The Battle of the Somme took place between 1 July 1916 and 18 November 1916. During the battle, tanks were used for the first time. Before the initial attack, shells bombarded the German trenches for seven days. The British command believed that destroying the trenches would enable an easy capture of the German positions. However, German trenches were up to thirty feet deep, so the shelling had little impact as the German troops waited deep underground. The Germans had warning that the advance was about to take place when the heavy bombardment ceased, and whistles were blown to alert the Allied soldiers. German machine gunners had ample time to set up their guns. Telephone messages to and from Allied headquarters were regularly intercepted by the enemy because of lax security. At this time, the front line stretched from the coast to the Swiss border – some 475 miles. The battle took place over a 25-mile section. Again, there were differing styles and priorities between the commanders on the ground, those at headquarters, Lloyd George the British Prime Minister, and their French Allies. This was the first attack led by the British. The objective was to relieve the French at Verdun, but Haig really wanted to attack from Ypres – his ‘big push’. He aimed to be in Bapoume by 10 am that morning. However, the closest they ever came to the town was three miles. The assault had been postponed to 1 July because the weather was atrocious. 125,000 soldiers took part and there were 60,000 casualties. It was thought the heavy bombardment had killed the German soldiers, so the British were ordered to walk towards the German lines in extended order. They were easy targets for the opposing side, and 20,000 died between 7 am and 9 am that first morning. Among those killed on 2nd July was Captain Ferdinand Eglington, aged 31, from the South Staffordshire Regiment. He had received his Commission on 17 August 1914. He arrived in France on 25 February 1915. He was wounded at Easter 1915, but by October 1915 he was well enough to return to France. On 2 July he was leading the 7th wave of a diversionary attack at Gommecourt when he was killed in action. His death is recorded on the Thiepval Memorial. Ferdinand Eglington was the son of Edward Henry Eglington, who had a hardware factory in Walsall, and his wife Lucy Eglington. He had one brother and seven sisters. Private Alfred Bradshaw aged 28 had enlisted in 1915. On 15 July 1916, he was killed in action. He, too, is remembered on the Thiepval Memorial. Alfred Bradshaw had been born in Chasetown and had married his wife Elizabeth in 1915. He was a miner. Paul Bedford mentioned several other local soldiers who died on the Somme; some were familiar to us from our research.
 
The Battle of Passchendaele (3rd battle of Ypres), lasted from 31 July until 10 November 1917. This ‘breakthrough Battle’, was to seize U-boat pens on the coast, in order to relieve pressure on the supply of food. There was a fear that German soldiers would arrive from the Eastern front, as there was a possibility that Russia would drop out of the war. The summer of 1917 was extremely wet, and constant shelling had destroyed drainage, turning the low-lying land to a muddy morass. Many soldiers who fell injured drowned in the liquid mud before they could be rescued. Among those killed during the 3rd Battle of Ypres was Private William Fellows, aged 19, of the Worcester Regiment. He was killed in action on the first day of the battle, 31 July 1917. He was a coal miner and was born in Burntwood, the son of William and Teresa Fellows. He had six brothers and five sisters. He is remembered on the Menin Gate. Here, 55,000 soldiers with no known graves are listed. Hindley Evans, an only son who had worked as a draper’s assistant before enlisting, is buried at Tyne Cot, the world’s largest war cemetery, where there are 12,000 headstones. The soldiers mentioned in Paul’s talk, and many more, can be found in his book, ‘Not Just a Name’. We have purchased a copy for the Group’s library, where it is available to be borrowed by members. I am sure those of us who are writing biographies of soldiers commemorated on local memorials will find it a useful addition to our research.
 
Finding Mr. Mounstephen - by Chris Graddon
 
The visit earlier this year by Burntwood Family History Group to the Who Do You Think You Are? Live show at the NEC proved to be every bit as rewarding as I hoped. If anything, I found this year’s show to be more interesting and more useful than the one in 2015, with a greater variety of displays and stands, not only from all parts of the UK, but also from a surprising range of places around the world. There was plenty to see and take in – so much so that I walked around the large hall several times, trying to make sure I didn’t miss anything. Along the way, I paused to listen to lectures that covered a wide range of family history research. I would certainly recommend others to visit the show in the future, but I would urge them to go prepared with a supply of questions and research issues. They will find the various experts more than willing to tackle the thorniest of problems. This year I returned to the Methodist Heritage stand to ask again the question that I posed in 2015 – Who is Mr. Mounstephen? My grandfather, Charles William Graddon, served as Quartermaster Sergeant Major with the King’s Royal Rifle Corps in the Boer War, and his day-by-day diaries of that experience are a testament not only to the love he had for his family, but also to the strength and importance of his faith. In the diaries he mentions his correspondence with Mr. Mounstephen no less than 16 times during the period 21 October 1899 to 17 August 1900, a clear indication of the influence this gentleman had on my grandfather’s life and faith. These two entries are typical:
 
‘11 January 1900 (Thursday) Up at 5.30, promise of a fine day, had been rain during the night. I did not hear it. When I woke I had in my head, which I had to sing to myself, “Through clouds and storms, He gently clears thy way. Wait thou His time, so shall the night soon end in joyous day”. Praise the Lord for the thoughts He put in my head. A lot more troops were coming in. I hear this is called Pretorius Farm, near Springfield. Should not be surprised if an attack was made tomorrow as several brigades have gone some miles farther on. I sent a letter to Mr. Mounstephen and as I felt rather down during the afternoon I wrote to Rosie {my grandfather’s wife, Rosetta}. In the evening went up and had a chat to Warner. When I came back I heard I had to go to Frere in the morning, so went down to the Company and found a nice letter had come in from Rosie; 2 pence to pay. Turned in at 9.30.
 
13 February 1900 (Tuesday) Up about 6, went and drew the bread and meat. The water supply at Chievely is very bad, most of it having to be brought here by train in huge tanks. I saw a 6-inch gun on a railway truck, the biggest gun we have out here. After breakfast I changed my clothes and took my horse down to the river 2 miles away and washed my dirty clothes; I stood in the river and scrubbed them on a rock, there were hundreds there at the same thing. When I came back I found letters: 1 from Rosie, 1 from Alice {Charles and Rosetta’s second daughter} and 1 from Mr. Mounstephen, also a card from Mr. Jenkin with the motto for 1900 “Almighty, trust thou in Him”. God help me to put all my trust in Thee. Began a letter to Rosie. The night was lovely, the moonlight grand. I turned in about 9, asking God to watch over and keep me.’
 
As I transcribed and annotated my grandfather’s diaries, I wondered who Mr. Mounstephen might have been – guessing that he could have been a Wesleyan Methodist minister – but my attempts to find out anything about him, including at the 2015 WDYTYA? show, were unsuccessful. Undaunted, I thought I would try again in 2016, though I wasn’t optimistic. I spoke to Philip Thornborow on the Methodist Heritage stand and he promised to investigate and get back to me. Sure enough, on the Monday following the show, I received an email from him, providing the information I had been seeking. More than that, quite literally, he enabled me to put a face to the name. The photograph on the left is from the National Portrait Gallery and the one on the right was taken on the day Mr. Mounstephen received his Knighthood. Sir William Henry Mounstephen (8 November 1868–9 May 1946) was a prominent Wesleyan layman and leather merchant in Devonport. He was Chairman of the Devonport Liberal Association, and was knighted in 1933 for his political and public services. His entry in the 1912 edition of The Methodist Who’s Who shows that he held a number of leadership positions within the Wesleyan Methodist church, and was heavily involved with the church mission. The Wesley Guild were home supporters of the overseas missions of the Wesleyan Methodist church. The email from Philip Thornborow unlocked my puzzle, replacing the title Mr. with his Christian names. From there, it was easy to find out a great deal more about Sir William and his family, including additional photographs that I have not included here. So, if you are going to Who Do You Think You Are? Live in 2017, don’t be afraid to ask questions that you’ve asked many times before. Like me, you may just be lucky enough to find some answers.
 
The Memorial Project Joins Forces with Lux Muralis - By Pam Woodburn
 
Some of our members who live in the Burntwood/Lichfield area will probably be aware of the work done to produce historical sound and light displays on local buildings. So far, I have attended two. The first was at St. Anne’s Church, Chasetown, last October when Local History was joined with our own Memorial Project to produce an impressive display connected with Chasetown and the men from the local area who gave their lives in WWI. Photos of some of these local men were projected onto the outside walls of the church. I am happy to report that the information used was from our own Memorial Project! Peter Walker approached me a few months earlier and asked permission to use our work. I was delighted that some of the efforts put in by our members would be recognised in this way. This year, Peter (or more accurately his wife Kathryn) has approached me for help with another local project that they are doing. This time it is in conjunction with Chase Terrace Technology College, and they are working with the pupils to produce another display – this time with Chase Terrace men in mind. Volunteers from our Project were called for to go into school to talk to some of the students about life at that time and the work we have done. Five of us managed to go and were set to work talking to the young people about life generally at the time of World War I. We very pleasantly surprised at the interest and thought that went into some of the questions we were asked. Some of our display materials were lent to them including soldiers’ biographies, books, displays of poppies and music from the period. This year the display was from 6.30p.m. until 8.30p.m. on Friday 11th November.
 
No Feet of Clay
 
We recently had the following email from David Clay, of Mansfield: ‘I would like to enquire if it could possibly be made known to your members that if any male person with the surname of Clay is interested in a free DNA project, we would welcome them to take part at no cost to themselves. The “Clay Family Society” of America is run entirely by unpaid volunteers whose only purpose is to further their Family History research.’ If you’re interested in learning more about this project, David’s address is 30 Mill Street, Mansfield, Notts NG18 2PQ. Tel: 01623 648236 email: dave@kicknrush.co.uk
 
Births & Deaths – Extra Indexes and More
 
Major changes are about to affect our access to records of births and deaths in England and Wales.
 
Indexes. Until recently, the only way to consult indexes of birth and death registrations online and free of charge was by visiting the FreeBMD website. FreeBMD will continue to be useful to many researchers. However, for some searches, newly released indexes on the General Register Office (GRO) site will also be helpful (www.gro.gov.uk/gro/content/certificates/default.asp). The indexes cover these periods:
Births (July 1837 to December 1915)
Deaths (July 1837 to December 1957)
Unlike all other indexes, the new GRO ones include these details for all years back to 1837:
Births = the mother’s maiden name
Deaths = the age at death
The new GRO indexes are very cumbersome to use, as you have to specify the year (plus or minus up to only two years) and also the gender of the person concerned.
 
Temporary price cuts. The GRO is now legally able to issue registration information other than as a certificate. As a pilot service, it intends to make information available in PDF form. Phase 1 of the new service started on 9 November 2016 and will run for up to three weeks. It will test demand for uncertificated copies of the civil registration entries that are already digitised (i.e. birth entries recorded 1837–1934 and death entries recorded 1837–1957), in addition to those much more recent birth, death, marriage and civil partnership records which were also recorded directly onto the registration service online system. The application must be submitted online and contain a GRO reference. These PDFs will cost £6. This phase of the pilot will close after three weeks, or when 45,000 PDFs have been ordered, whichever comes soonest. Further phases will follow and are described in detail on the GRO website. So, if you want details of such births and deaths, you can get them for £6.00, instead of £9.25 – but only for a very short time. We have no idea what the price will be after then.
 
This Issue’s Cover Photograph - War Memorial, Wimblebury. Photograph: Alan Betts
 
Wimblebury developed as a mining community in the mid-19th century. By 1871, it had a population of some 700 and apparently had such numbers of churches and chapels that it was called The Holy City. By the 1950s, mining subsidence had made many of the buildings unsafe, and the area was cleared and redeveloped with modern housing. The church of St Paul was built in 1889–90. The name is from a local farm and means ‘Wimbald’s fort’. The Wimblebury War Memorial is a granite obelisk on a concrete base, bearing the inscriptions: TO THE MEMORY OF THE MEN/OF THIS PARISH/WHO FELL IN THE GREAT WAR/1914–1919/THEIR NAME LIVETH FOR EVERMORE and IN MEMORY OF THE FALLEN/ 1939–1945/ R.I.P. This memorial commemorates the residents of Wimblebury who were killed or missing in the First World War (19 names) and the Second World War (5 names).
 
More World War Weirdness
 
Some more strange but little-known facts about the Second World War...
After the Treaty of Versailles that ended WWI, Ferdinand Foch said “This is not peace. It is an armistice for 20 years.” 20 years later, WWII broke out...
The Mosque of Paris gave sanctuary to Jews by giving them Muslim IDs and hiding them in their underground caverns.
To prevent the Germans from finding out that the British had radar on board aircraft, the British started a rumour that their pilots had excellent night vision from eating lots of carrots. This rumour has continued to the present day, as many people think carrots improve eyesight.
During the war, Canada gave out buttons to people who tried to enlist but were refused due to medical reasons, to show that they were still willing to fight.
When chocolate became scarce due to rationing, an Italian pastry maker named Pietro Ferrero started adding chopped hazelnuts to chocolate to stretch the supply. The product, which he called Pasta Gianduja, was renamed Nutella in 1964.
 
 
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