Charles Henry Ruddock: A local Victorian in the Great War


Charles Henry Ruddock from a family photograph. Image very kindly donated by Dorothy Ruddock via David Evans.

David Evans’ painstaking recording and sharing of the Ruddock family archive continues today with a look at the Great War history of Walsall Wood man, Charles Henry Ruddock.

A few weeks ago, we kicked the series off with an article about Charles’ history in the army in the late Victorian era and South Africa, which has caused no small amount of debate and ponderance amongst the blog readers.

This occurred following the wonderful material that recently came to light, so kindly donated by Julie Whitehouse and Dorothy Ruddock who have continued to share a hugely disparate range of fascinating family ephemera, most of which is still yet to be published here.

This is the second instalment of the history of Charles Henry Ruddock, with more to come soon.

A good starting point on the subject is the post here regarding the Cape by Janet Davies Warallo followed by the post about Dulce Domum and the Ruddock family photos.

My thanks again to Dorothy, Julie and David – if you have anything to add, please do: comment here or mail me, please – BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. Cheers.

Charles Henry Ruddock and the Great War

Charles was ‘Embodied into Service’ on 5th August 1914. He had first joined the Army in 1890, where he served 21 years, 17 in the South Staffs Regiment, followed by 4 years in the Military Provost Staff Corps.


That must have been the equivalent of an IT qualification in the day! Image very kindly donated by Dorothy Ruddock via David Evans.

Now the Great War had been declared and Territorial Sergeant C Ruddock was ’embodied service’ (source: Charles Ruddock service records).

The family notes record that he served under Colonel Wingfield Stratford, who commanded the North Midlands Division, I understand. Charles was awarded the DCM during this conflict, and was promoted to Warrant Officer in March 1915. He was posted to Europe on 3 March 1915, and returned to England to recover from a wound, on 22 July 1918. He retired from the Army on 22 October 1918. He had served another four and a half years in the Regular Army.

Charles’ Military History Sheet records that he was awarded the DCM for

‘consistent good work since the Division landed. He has worked night and day getting stores up to the trenches on responsible and detached work. He has shown great energy and tact’ vide London Gazette, 11th March, 1916.

Charles returned home to live with his wife Ada and family in Ogley Square, Mill Road, Brownhills.[Worth reading that link, Ogley Square was no place fit for heroes – Bob]

Dorothy kindly shared the following images and ephemera from the family connection:

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Woodmen in Westfields wipeout


Image from a previous Wood visit to Westfields, kindly supplied by Simon Evans.

Yesterday afternoon (22nd October 2016), Walsall Wood F.C. travelled to Allpay Park at Hereford to face Westfields, who sadly beat the Woodmen 6-0.

Before we kick off with the match report, do check out Walsall Wood Saints’ appeal for your help here. That looks like a great project we can all get behind.

Bill was at the somewhat daftly named allpay.park to witness the match, and submitted the following report:

Hiya Bob,

The report says it all, it looks bad but it could have been so much closer. We didn’t have a Sirdic Grant who at times was virtually un-playable, full backs Craig Deakin and Steven Hayles must feel relieved they aren’t due to meet him again until April 29th.

A silver lining, youngsters Josh Mansell and Romano Graham made substitute appearances and impressed on their first team debuts.

It’s difficult to keep the faith at present, but stay in there guys, we’ll get there, would I lie to you?

Fourth placed Lye Town are the visitors on Saturday, no easy fixtures in the Midland League Premier Division remember.

F.A. Vase Round 1.
Westfields 6 v 0 Walsall Wood.    

Looking at the scoreline you’d think this was a one sided contest, well in a way it was, there were two differences however, Westfields put their chances away whilst Wood didn’t and Wood didn’t have a Sirdic Grant to terrorise the opposition defence.

Just like the League game both sides immediately settled into playing football but it wasn’t until 12 minutes that there was a shot on target.  Wood pressure on the right of the box saw Grant Beckett win the ball and lay it back to Harry Harris 30 yards out, his low drive well held to his left by keeper Keiron Blackburn.

Three minutes later a Wood right wing move broke down, Sam Plane played the ball forward wide left, the ball was mis-read by a defender putting Aidan Thomas clear, he raced to the edge of the box, squared the ball into the centre, Richard Greaves firing into the roof of the net.  A minute later Wood couldn’t get the ball clear and Sirdic Grant fired just wide.

On 21 minutes Nick Wright raced into the right of the home box, his ball inside was collected at pace by Ricardo Ricketts who laid the ball back to Karl Edwards, his first time effort deflected into the side netting.

Two minutes later Plane intercepted a crossfield ball, ran clear wide left, played the ball into the near post, Grant losing his marker and flicking the ball across keeper Andy Hughes and into the right hand corner of the net. Three minutes later a ball left of centre found Greaves 40 yards out, who seeing Hughes off his line hit a lob just over the right hand angle.

Wright ran through the centre three minutes later, his low drive deflected left to Lewis Taylor Boyce to hit a first time cross shot inches over the far angle.  It was on 34 minutes that Wood found out it wasn’t going to be their day, Wright charged into the right of the box, his powerful low drive was pushed away at full stretch by Blackburn, the ball was unceremoniously fired down the left by Plane to find Thomas, who raced into the left of the box and calmly slotted the ball past Hughes as the keeper raced to meet him. Four minutes later Ricketts was on the end of a neat right wing move, his shot was charged down, the ball fell to Harris, his first time screamer bravely blocked by skipper Phil Glover.  Then right on half time Craig Deakin crossed from the right to beyond the far post, Harris made space and curled a shot over the far angle.

Two minutes into the second half Grant fired a chance high over but it was all over on 51 minutes.  Grant played the ball into the left of the box, Thomas turned and fired in a cross shot that deflected off the back of a defender and flew past Hughes into the net. Four minutes later Wright raced into the right of the box, his low cross found Beckett who cleverly turned back inside, his low drive blocked.  Straight to the other end, Grant played a quick-fire one-two with Greaves in the centre of the box before releasing Nick Harrhy into the right to calmly fire home number five. On 64 minutes Craig Jones raced onto a ball inside from Grant wide right, he was caught by a late challenge from Shawn Boothe who picked up his second. yellow and left the field. Six minutes later Grant was put through into the centre of the box, Hughes saving bravely at his feet.

On 77 minutes Grant raced clear from halfway into the left of the box, he laid the ball square to Harrhy who fired a first time effort inches wide.

A minute later Wood substitute Romano Graham raced into the right of the home box, going through one challenge and firing over the far angle.  On 84 minutes second substitute Josh Mansell crossed from wide right to the far post Ben Birch powering a header just over.

Three minutes later Grant again carved open the left of the Wood defence, went past Hughes, his cross shot put behind by Beckett.  From the corner Kane Kahaki headed the ball across goal and Harrhy headed home number six at the far post.

On 90 minutes Wood pressure on the left of the box saw three shots charged down, Deakin collecting the loose ball, his fierce low drive bringing a full length save from Blackburn.

Grant had the last word racing clear wide left and finding Dan Polan to turn inside his marker and fire in a low cross shot that Hughes half stopped and Deakin cleared off the line.

Westfields were clinical, Wood couldn’t buy a goal this afternoon, and as the cheeky chappie wrote in my notebook after the game, ‘We miss Joey Butlin’, I’ve got to agree.

Bill Shaw.

The Teams:

Westfields – Blackburn, Sauntson, Plane, Glover (captain), Kahaki, Bonella, Jones, Thomas, Greaves, Harrhy, Grant, Polan, Febery, S. Gwynne, Miller, M. Gwynne.

Walsall Wood – Hughes, Deakin, Hayles, Boothe, Birch, Beckett, Ricketts, Harris (captain), Edwards, Wright, Taylor Boyce, Adams, Mansell, Taylor, Graham, Butlin.

As ever, thanks to Bill for the report – always appreciated, and my commiserations to the team and fans. Keep gwarnin, for The Good of the Wood!


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Walsall Wood Saints need your votes!


There’s a large patch of dormant land to the left of the stadium (in this picture) which could be put to good use. Please help with your votes! Imagery from the remarkable Apple Maps.

Alex Turner from Walsall Wood (formerly Shire Oak) Saints Football Club – who are now partnered with Walsall Wood Football FC at Oak Park – has been in touch to ask readers if they’d take a little time out to register and cast votes for their bid for a slice of the Aviva Community Fund, to help improve the facilities for the club and for kids in Walsall Wood.

Registering on the site is quick and easy and you get ten votes which you can use to support the bid. Check it out here at this link.

I’ll let Alex explain what they’re proposing:

Hi all, just wondering if the blog readers could help a local football club – Walsall Wood FC.

We have recently placed a bid to upgrade the facilities available at Walsall Wood FC, not only for our teams but also the local community. We aim to re-grass a section of wasteland behind the main stand to allow a variety of sports activities all year round, and refurbish two old containers to use as a youth club.

Our main aim is to provide the local youngsters with somewhere to go and something to do on a daily basis.

All of us at the club see this as a massive step forward in the future of our community. With cut backs in various activity centres this will provide a much needed venue for everyone.

We have to make this to work for the good of the wood!

Please register here and cast your votes.

With the closure of local youth clubs and centres, this could be a real asset for Walsall Wood and make use of otherwise dormant land, and I think it’s a great project. I’ve voted and I implore readers to do so, too.

Please help The Saints, and if you’re interested in the team itself – or you have a footy mad youngster who might be – check out their Facebook page here.

Best of luck everyone – for the good off The Wood!

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Car smashes through garage in early morning Brownhills crash

Pictures posted on twitter by West Midlands Fire Service @aldridgefire

In the early morning today (Saturday, 22nd October 2016) residents in Kingfisher Close, on the Watermead Estate, Brownhills were awoken by a car leaving the road and smashing through the wall of their garage.

West Midlands Fire Service personnel based at Aldridge attended the incident, which took place at 5:39am, and thankfully there were no casualties.

They posted the following on Twitter:

Update, 1:15pm – The BBC have a really odd report on this, readable in full here:

A car has been driven through the side of a garage in a suburban street, in what is perhaps the ultimate piece of poor parking.
The vehicle smashed into the brick building on Kingfisher Close, Brownhills, West Midlands, at at about 05:40 BST on Saturday.
The driver fled the scene, although police said they did not know if they were investigating what happened.
West Midlands Fire Service said no-one was in the garage at the time.
It said the garage’s structure has been “compromised” by the crash, but nobody was injured.
Police have recovered the car from the garage, and insurers for the property are assessing the damage.
The driver has not yet been traced.

‘Police said they did not know if they were investigating’ – What the hell?

If you have any further info, don’t hesitate to drop me a line – BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. Comments may be edited for obvious reasons.

There is also coverage at The Walsall Advertiser and the Express & Star.

My sympathies to those affected.

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Walsall Wood FC v Westfields FC: Away match today!


Westfield play at the allpay.park ground – Image from Westfields FC’s website.

Saturday 22nd October 2016

Walsall Wood F.C. v Westfields F.C.

Away at Westfields FC
allpay.park, Widemarsh Common, Hereford, HR4 9NA

 Don’t break your Wood vows, be there, be faithful to your local heroes

3:00pm kickoff

For The Good Of The Wood!

Looking forward to the match report…

Visit the Walsall Wood FC website here



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Huge progress being made on local canal restoration

All pictures an captions from Lichfield and Hatherton Canal Restoration Trust press release.

Tom Reid from the Lichfield and Hatherton Canal Restoration Trust has been in touch to let us know about the progress they’re making in opening up the former canal towpath as a walking route between Barracks Lane and Summerhill, aided by corporate volunteers.

If you’re unaware of the local canal restoration that’s steadily progressing this excellent blog post by Christine Howles explains more about it. The trust run regular work parties and all are very much welcome, whether you’ve a specialist skill or not!

At the moment, the volunteers are not only beavering away on the route of the lost line between Barracks Lane, Ogley Hay and The Boat restaurant, on the Lichfield Road at Summerhill, but also at several sites, including Borrowcop on the A51 at Lichfield, and other places along the route of the lost line.

To find out more, please pop along to the Lichfield and Hateherton Canal Restoration Trust website here.

Tom Reid wrote:

Corporate Volunteers Boost Lichfield Canal

Volunteers from companies as diverse as BT, Amey, E.ON and Jaguar Land Rover have been helping Lichfield’s Canal Trust to

make great strides in restoring a waterway that was abandoned in the 1950s.

In recent months canal walls creating a channel leading up to the M6 Toll aqueduct have been taking shape and a great start has been made on the kilometre-long Summerhill section of the Heritage Towpath Trail from the Oddfellows in the Boat Inn to the M6 Toll aqueduct.

Such has been the scale of progress that Lichfield and Hatherton Canals Restoration Trust’s Engineering Director Peter Buck is planning for the day when the wheelchair-friendly Towpath Trail will be open to the public from the Boat Inn on Walsall Road to Brownhills and boat trips will run from the Boat to the aqueduct.

The purchase of the Summerhills land was made possible by a Social Investment Business Community Award less than two years ago.

Peter said: “Before we got this piece of land we never had access to the aqueduct.

“We’ve restored  the canal culvert at Cranebrook  incorporating an access road so we can actually get cranes and construction equipment up to the M6Toll aqueduct so that we can build the guillotine lock, which will be one of the deepest, if not the deepest, in the country.

 “The intention is to move our cabins early next year onto a hard-standing area by the aqueduct and that will be the construction area for the new lock and pumping station.”

Paying tribute to the volunteers, Peter said: “We’ve had fabulous cooperation from the visiting corporate groups and it’s cascading in.

“Many of the corporate volunteers come from different departments from the same organization, but they’re all saying ‘can we come?’

 “We had 40 volunteers on one day and the smallest group was three but they all did a fabulous job.”

A 21-strong team of volunteers from the Waterway Recovery Group, part of the Inland Waterways Association, with two vans spent a weekend working on the canal restoration at both Darnford Park and Summerhill.

Peter said: “The Summerhill team struck the formwork to the rear concrete towpath wall over the Cranebrook culvert, cleaned, oiled the timber shutters, placed the mesh wall reinforcement, re-erected the formwork and installed props to the opposite wall which forms the canal channel over the culvert. All in one day!

“The WRG team then got stuck into completing the timber edging and stone towpath on the Heritage Towpath Trail between the culvert and the M6Toll aqueduct. Not having an excavator to load stone into our six tonne dumper did not deter our hard working WRG guests, they just loaded the dumper by hand with shovels!

“And at Darnford Park the WRG Team took control of the LHCRT excavators and dumpers and set about forming the base of the central environmental mound alongside the A38. After a good deal of scrub bashing a start was made to forming the upper canal basin and the excavated material was moved by the dumpers to form the base to the central environmental mound along the noisy A38.”

While the corporate groups have been coming and going, the Trust’s own Green Team have been steadily laying the unkempt hawthorn hedge and interplanting native saplings along the kilometer-long Summerhills section.

Meanwhile, the work of the Trust’s regular volunteers on the Tamworth Road site mean that the day when Pound 27 is in water is coming closer.

The clay base is complete in the winding hole by the A38, thanks to the loan of a 13-tonne JCB from Chase Civil Engineering which was used to place and compact the puddling  clay.

Stop planks have been installed at the narrows and more clay has been laid along the base of the towpath wall, while Geomesh has been stitched into and soil placed to the off side concreted canal bank batter to enable plants to establish and wildlife to flourish along the canal margins

The final stage before rewatering is the installation of a penstock, a gate valve which will allow the control of water through the weir at a rate acceptable to the Environment Agency and into the adjacent Darnford Brook.


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Woodmen slain by keener Heanor

 A warm  welcome was given  by  Heanor FC  to the visiting  Wood supporters

A warm welcome was given by Heanor FC to the visiting Wood supporters

Last Wednesday (19th October 2016) Walsall Wood travelled to Heanor Town and sadly, came away soundly beaten following yet another injury.

It’s not going so well for the Woodmen this season. Bill Shaw was at the match, and doesn’t mince his words:

Hiya Bob,

The injury list continues to grow, we were playing well last night with yet another patched up side, but losing Drew Aiton at half time to a nasty looking knee injury was a body blow, from which we never recovered and Heanor totally dominated from then on.

Don’t write us off at Westfield on Saturday, but I for one wouldn’t put my mortgage money on us.

We’ll really be glad to see the end of October but we still have Lye Town at home on Saturday 29th, oh happy days.

Heanor Town 3 v 1 Walsall Wood

This was certainly a game of two halves, with Wood the better side in the first and then after losing Drew Aiton at half time finding themselves almost unable to get out of their own half in the second, as Town gave them a real battering.

After only four minutes Lewis Taylor Boyce on the Wood right crossed to the near post, debutant Richard Gregory seeing his first time effort saved by the legs of keeper Joe McCormack.  Two minutes later Steven Hayles played a ball forward that was flicked through the home defence by Gregory, McCormack out bravely to save at the feet of Drew Aiton.  On 11 minutes a long ball out of defence by Shawn Boothe was passed back by a defender, McCormack having to race from his area to kick clear from Gregory.

A minute later Town nearly went ahead, Nathan Benger crossed from wide right, Chris Smiths diving header cleared off the line.

On 19 minutes a right wing free kick was delivered to the near post, Ben Birch forcing the ball home to put Wood deservedly ahead.

Four minutes later Alex Brown threaded a ball into the Wood box, keeper Andy Hughes saving bravely at the feet of Benger.  A minute later Benger got clear wide right, his cross too hard for Elliott Reeves who could only flick the ball wide of the far post.  Three minutes later Benger again raced down the right, his ball inside hit first time but blocked by Boothe.

29 minutes a lovely ball by Lewis Taylor Boyce into the right of the box put Aiton in on goal to roll a cross shot narrowly wide.  Three minutes later a suicidal roll out by McCormack was intercepted by Nick Wright on the left of the box, his square ball right found Gregory, his first time effort blocked by a very relieved keeper.

On 36 minutes Reeves crossed from the right to pick out Benger, his goalbound effort kept out by Birch and keeper Hughes.  On 41 minutes Dominic Wilkinson ran onto a ball into the right of the box and went down under a mistimed challenge. Benger firing home the resultant penalty.

Wood had the last word, Aiton won the ball on the right of the box and fed Harry Harris who set up Gregory to hit a first time low drive that a flying McCormack pushed round his left hand post.

For the first 25 minutes of the second half apart from a 40 yard effort by Harris that just missed the right angle it was constant Town pressure but they couldn’t break down a hard working defence, then on 70 minutes Benger collected a ball forward from a left wing throw, cleverly played in Reeves into the right of the box and he hammered the ball home.

Six minutes later a rare Wood excursion over halfway saw Lee Parsons go on a powerful left wing run before cutting inside and finding Gregory, his low drive half blocked giving McCormack an easy near post save.

Town went back on the attack from this point and made certain of the 3 points when on 86 minutes a free kick on the edge of the D was fired home by Benger.

The loss of Drew Aiton (Woods leading scorer) was pivotal, but Town really gave them a second half working over and in the end deserved the three points.

Wood face Westfields on Saturday with a horrendous injury list, a time for someone or two to step up and become an unlikely hero.

Bill Shaw.

The Teams:

Heanor Town – McCormack, Marriott, Seale, Smith (captain), Hall, Whitmore, Wilkinson, Brown, Benger, reeves, Layton, Conway, Naylor, Daley, Power.

Walsall Wood – Hughes, Ricketts, Hayles, Boothe, Birch, Deakin, Wright, Harris (captain), Gregory, Aiton, Taylor Boyce, Parsons, Beckett, Mansell, Edwards, Taylor.

Walsall Wood are a good team and an excellent, community-spirited club. They need our support – please do attend their games if you can.

As ever, thanks to Bill for the report – always appreciated – for The Good of the Wood!

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