There’s some great stuff coming in about local wartime air raids. Please keep it coming, I will post some more later, but in the mean time, I received this comment on my original post about Jockey Meadows and the apparent scarring in the fields.
For what it’s worth, I’m not convinced that it’s just a wet patch in the fields in Walsall Wood; looking at several editions of aerial photograph show water nearby, but not corresponding with that outline. Besides which, compare the larger pool to the other two; does that not look like it’s surrounded by freshly turned soil? It’s a conundrum, for sure. I also can’t find any official sign of abstraction rights being granted for that side of the Lichfield Road, either. The plot thickens.
Reader Jim had this to say:
If its bomb craters you’re looking for Bob I’ve got a prime candidate I assume it must be from the Highbridges raid the Google earth coordinates are below just scroll back to the 1945 coverage. You don’t usually get perfectly round craters like that from anything other than bombs and I recon from its size its got to be from a 2000lb.
I dutifully headed off to Google Earth to check this out – Jim is quite correct, there’s something quite unusual there. To save time, I’ve taken a screenshot and highlighted the indentation that I think he’s referring to. I’s lost under a pool in more recent editions of maps and aerial photographs. It is, of course, possible that the pool formed because of the crater.
If you have anything to add, please do comment here – I’d really like to form a comprehensive record of raids in the Walsall area, and the effect they had on local communities.
“StuartWilliams.net”…his details of the Battle of Walsall..written with Jack Haddock..gives contemporaneous details of one particular heavy air raid over Walsall area in July 1942 when bombers returning from a raid over Liverpool dumped their “surplus” bombs hereabouts…around daybreak. This might refer to one of the times in question.
If Chasewater was used as a waymarker for one raid in the North, then I would expect it to be used for other raids in that direction, too. The German bombers used converging radio direction finding to pinpoint their targets so clever misinformation was broadcast in open transmission by the BBC to create confusion in its accuracy following raids in the U.K…meaning some bombers would return from subsequent raids without finding their target.
Brownhills Council granted mineral rights to Hoveringham in the very early 1960s, despite some local objections, and stipulated the planting of a screen of trees along the peripherary of the site with the adjacent A461. The trees have now grown and are visible in the Google photo. My local source was born and lived by the Traveller’s Rest along the A461 in Walsall Wood,in 1922..just up the road from the wetlands in question, knew the fields well, and still lives in the village.
Simmonds Aerofilms in Potters Bar may hold pre-war photos of the actual fields. A clickintime holds photos of Walsall Wood and may have all of the roll of photos in their archives…if not, then I think Aeroflims will have them in their extensive archives.
Perhaps the Army Bomb Disposal authority have detailed records of their clearance work locally in their archives
Thank goodness the Linley Cavern ammmunition dump was not hit! The crater would have been as big as the one near Marchington and the loss of life, especially among the miners “on shift” would have been tremendous.
I hope this is helpful.
With kind results….and good hunting! D. Evans
with kind regards , even!
It would be interesting to “plot” where the local Air Raid shelters were. I wonder if any are still there..perhaps some Andersons still exist in private gardens..or some shelters in factory sites.
An unusual double Anderson was lost when Walker Road/Taylor Avenue ,Harden was renovated a few years ago.
A big brick shelter stood in Brook Lane, Walsall Wood..where Brook Close joins the Lane. Perhaps readers may know where the others were in Walsall Wood
….. kind regards D. Evans
Many thanks D.Evans for the Stuart Williams link,very interesting reading.My Dad referred to an air raid shelter at Streets Corner and also a large shelter for the school children underground where Peake Road was later built in the early 1950’s. My Mom talked about one in Short Street, Brownhills.
best wishes Caz
Another circular feature on the 1945 photo..off Walsall Wood Road, Aldridge
188.8.131.52W 52.37.15.01 North
Sadly the 1945 photo does not extend to central Brownhills..
However, the Chemical Works in Lichfield Road were engaged in some very interesting activies during the War, apparently. Was this the real target?
With regards D. Evans
The possibility that the Chemical in Lichfield Road, Brownhills was an actual designated primary or secondary target is intriguing. In one of the local History books, sorry, can’t remember which one, reference is made to the Chemical making munitions, and a nearby farm’s outbuildings being used as offices. One very big bomb ( a Hermann?) fell in the fields between the two sites, causing blast damage to the houses nearby..This might be the raid witnessed by the man on Highbridge, Pelsall Road….in which case its a pity the Google 45 photo cuts off just short of this site. I think there would have been a very big crater to see! The farmer may be able to give further information, and may have witnessed the event.
Kind regards D. Evans
My Mom told me a story about the front door of her home being blown off its hinges by a bomb blast. The house was Prospect House at the bottom of Castle Hill, Stonnall. She believed it was the result of an arial Landmine that exploded somewhere behind the Irish Harp pub on the Chester Road. She could not remember the exact year but thought it might have been intended for Coventry.
Yes that’s the one bob I read on the Pelsall history centre website that an attempt was made to bomb the Pelsall works bridge I don’t see any evidence of this on the 1945 photos however we do have this crater between Friar bridge and Yorks bridge.
It may be worth looking at the craters from the first world war, particularly those around Witschate, near Ypres. These were caused by massive underground explosions when mines filled with explosives were detonated simultaneously at the start of the battle of Messen. They are all round, like the bomb crater at Pelsall Common, and like the other bomb craters to the west of the one on the Common.
Their shape differs markedly with the hole near the Horse and Jockey pub, between Walsall Wood and Shelfield.
Given the huge quantites of explosives detonated to form the craters in Belgium, I can’t imagine a Heinkel HE111 being able to get airborne with such a load necessary to creat such a hole.
The explosion at Faulk
oops, wrong button
The explosion at Faulk was talked about a lot, and still is. There has been no local talk of any explosion like this regarding the pool in the Jockey Meadow to my knowledge.
with regards D. Evans
Hi Mr. Evans.
Hold on a sec.
Fauld was a completely different kettle of fish. I realise you’re looking for proof otherwise, but I’m still open minded. Try not to conflate the issue with stuff that isn’t applicable. Fauld was channeled by the caverns it occupied, and percussion occurred – like a cannon.
The depth of any crater will depend on the physics of the location of the blast. Something unconfined on a surface will make a wide, shallow hole whereas something buried will tend to make a deeper, narrower, more conical hole. This depends on soil type, vegetation cover and so forth. To make a small indent like the one in Jockey Meadows wouldn’t require much of anything in such wet, aerated ground. Look at the colour and verdancy of the vegetation – that ground has been disturbed. It’s wet all across those fields, yet the bushes grow in a ring commensurate with the possible soil disturbance on the ’45 image.
Further, if you zip through the images on google earth, you’ll see that the one in autumn – 2006 IIRC – was in a wet year but shows only a pool to the field boundary. Why is the perimeter of the pool so different to the other two? It’s a discussion point.
I’m not saying anyone is right or wrong, but we should be careful not to rule anything out.
Thanks for your wonderful contributions
Perhaps Aeroflims have a pre-war view of the field in question. This might help clear it up. I think the event in the fields behind the Anchor pub could be of much greater significance as there are still witnesses who recall this explosion. A Hermann bomb needed to be dropped from a height safe enough for the Heinkel to escape the blast. I think in this case the crater would be round, like the one in the fields near the Anchor pub, I believe. I metric tonne bomb dropped from a height of around 8000 feet at an airspeed of 180 knots…plus or minus windspeed.
All good fun, and very interesting, too.
Thank goodness Chasewater dam escaped bombing!
With kind regards..and thanks for your kind comments..and for your glorious photographs. They make my heart rejoice!
Best wishes D. Evans
Do any readers know what, if any, the” military installation “was on the top of Shire Oak reservoir during the war? Was it part of the Air Observation Corps monitoring posts? As the reservoir is now part of the past its departure may have prompted a few recollections as to what exactly was there, and where.
Were written records of “watches” kept or have they , too, become part of the past?
Were there other Air Obs posts in the vicinity, say, on Barr Common, for example?
I have heard stories of the tanks along the Chester Road, and the G.I’s ..and their fascination for local young ladies.
Wrigleys has lost its charm over the years!
with regards D. Evans
I seem to have vague memory of seeing a piece of shrapnel in the high bridges area I might have a nose around for it next time I’m up that way.
I have been trying to find any witness to any bomb exploding in the Jockey Meadows during the last war. My last conversation has been with an old lady who grew up in High Street Walsall Wood during the war. She was the daughter of the landlord of one of the pubs. As a child she played in these meadows and remembers the flooding from these fields on to the A461. She does not remember any bomb exploding there..or of any blast damage to the Boot Pub, which stood only a few hundred yards from the pond in the Jockey Meadow.
Perhaps the farmer who lived in the old Highfields farm, by the Horse and Jockey may remember..and the damage any blast caused to the building by the explosion?
The closest houses would have been those in New Street Shelfield. Does anyone know of blast damage sustained from a nearby explosion during the last war?
Does anyone know of anyone being injured from an exploding bomb’s blast while they walked nearby..perhaps along the Iron Pan?
However, regarding the event in the fields behind the Anchor pub, there does seem to be a picture emerging…
of something quite important.
with best wishes..and I look forward to more of your photo gems appearing on the blog.
This morning’s conversation with an old couple who have lived all their lives in Shelfield. The pool in Jockey Meadows is a very old clay pit…pre-war..now landfilled..and the meadows used for horse grazing. Not bomb craters…but..regarding dear Hermann..that bomb was found buried in the canal bank by the excavator driver who was digging the workings seen in the 68 photo..beside Baron’s Court, now an active deep landfill site . I hope that this helps.
The other visit by the Luftwaffe…two sources who witnessed the two bombs landing in the fields near Shire Oak..one person was sheltering in the cellar of a cottage in Sandhlls and heard the two explosions. One bomb landed in Lane’s field, the other in Burton’s field. The cottage was extensively damaged..windows blown out, roof damaged, rear kitchen wall blown out by the bomb blast.
Other locals nearby used the cellar of the Leopard ( a former pub) as their shelter.Their houses had no cellars.
A man living in a house opposite Paterson Place, Chester Road, Shire Oak,remembers the attack..in 1940 or 1941..early war..the widows were smashed and the blackout curtains were ripped. The attack took place at night time. One bomb landed close to the lock keepers cottage on the farm. One of the empty cottages in Chester Road, Shire Oak, near to Paterson Place and where the bungalows are now, was used as an Air Raid Warden’s base.There was a brick and concrete air raid shelter where Paterson Place joins the main Road. close to the road, by the track that led to the fields.
Jan Farrow’s book, Aldridge in old potographs, published in 1991, ISBN 0862999723 shows the chimney stack at the Aldridge Brick and Coal being demolished in 1940..thought to be used by the Germans as a fix or navigation aid.
Another shows one of the marlholes; another shows the workmen removing the overburden. These holes were originally dug by hand originally!
with kind regards
it would be useful, perhaps, if the History Centre at Walsall is able to keep a permanent record of the information of local interest which is published in your blog, Bob.
no smashed widows, please..just smashed windows.
I bet the widows got smashed afterwards, in the Anchor!
proff reading has never been my forte!
you may have been right first time………if bombs were dropping near my home….l’d certainly feel like getting smashed…..widow or not lol
The local story of the Bevin boys..those men conscripted to work down the pit..during the last war may be of interest.
Only two years ago or so were these men finally officially recognised for their contribution to the war effort. Perhaps readers know some of them..and would like to share their recollections. One local Bevin boy is one of the figures in Walsall Wood’s People statue.
During the first world war local miners put their skills to use in the part they played creating the underground mines in the battle of the Somme, and in the battle of Messines in Belgium where they dug tunnels from west of Wulvergen to close to the German defensive lines, just west of Messines and Wijtschate.
The huge craters their detonations caused when all of the underground explosives were detonated simultaneously can still be seen today. It was in this battle that young Adolf Hitler gained the injury which is best remembered in a second world war military refrain.
Kind regards D. Evans
Walsall Wood has some amazing people. In the course of listening to some people’s memories from “the Good Old Days” one noble tradition emerged. The Travellers’ Rest pub stood facing the Walsall Road,and with its back yard adjacent to the canal…not very far from where the Hermann bomb slammed into the canal bank.
The Travellers were the bargees who, at the end of their day, would tie up alongside the rear of the pub. First the bargee would stable his shire horse and then return to his barge to find that , in his absence, the barge had become unstable, shedding some raikers ( large lumps of coal ) into the canal. So, to dry these lumps out, kind people would help him retrieve them from the water..and take them into the pub outhouse for them to dry out. Local children would enjoy the spectacle which was sometimes interrupted by the local policeman, constable Warrington, who had arrived unexpectedly, apparently,This despite the children looking for him.
The bargee would then have a meal, and some free beer,and would go to sleep, safe in the knowledge that the raikers were drying out.
Come the following morning the bargee would cook his bacon on the little stove in the barge and doubtless because of the urgency of the day would depart, forgeting his coal.
The pub has long since gone, but I expect local ale still affects both legs and memory!
Local ale may still continue to affect the memory, perhaps
kind regards D. Evans
Covered in Glory
Two human recollections of the Luftwaffe raid …One lady in the cottage, on hearing the siren , refused to leave her bed. There had been false alarm before. After the explosions she was found, shocked, still in bed, covered in dust and staring up at the night sky through what had been the ceiling and roof! Could have been worse. The floor might have given way as well !
Another recollection. A peach! In Commonside..the sirens wailed and the family dashed to the pigsty..their shelter..but did not quite get there before the bombs exploded. The father of the ( then ) girl threw himself on his daughter to protect her. She remembers the dust coming from the pigsty. Could have been worse. They might have made it inside the pigsty! Nervous creatures are pigs, I am told.
with regards D. Evans
Hellfire corner all over again?
At the time of the Lufwaffe’s bombing raid over Sandhills, Mr Arthur Burton farmed one of the two farms which received a bomb. Mr Burton had been a soldier in the Ypres salient during the first world war . He had only been farming at this farm for a short while when the raid took place.
Fortunately he had kept an unoffical diary of his terrible ordeal during the time he was on duty at Ypres during the first world war and this was discovered by his family some years ago after Mr Burton died, and they have had this transcribed and printed in the form of a fascinating 46 page, green -covered booklet which is entitled;-
With the Grenadier Guards on the Western Front; the diary of Pte A.C.Burton M.M., October 1915 – September 1916
The family gave me permission to hand a copy to the “In Flanders Fields” museum..the Cloth Hall in Ypres Town Square., some years ago.
I recommend reading this , if any reader has the opportunity of visiting Ypres and the surrounding area.
Walsall Wood fascinates again!
with kind regards D. Evans
I think I have gone as far as I can with this topic. Was Hermann alone? Far from” conflating the issue” of whether the Jockey Pool was a bomb crater or not I think I have clarified that , in the absence of any witness to any explosion or sound of an expolsion emanating from that hole at the time,using local knowledge as prime evidence, the absence of any visible peripheral damage to neighbouring buildings,as secondary evidence , and the absence of any local talk about any event there during the war I think we can draw the matter to an end. Dear Hermann had lain low for many a year..an underground “hermit”
The Sandhills air raid is a different matter. I started with what I had been told , many years ago, by a resident who had witnessd this from the Highbridge…and from there I have asked locals who lived very close at the time. In the process some lively detailed first-hand accounts have been given about the incident, and in the process I have learnt more about the local people and some of the Walsall Wood “noble traditions” before the last war…and some experiences during the first and second world war.
With kind regards and best wishes ,
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a post script to this topic.
I mentioned the Faulk explosion during the correspondance; readers might like to read Mark Rowe’s excellent investigation and subsequent book; The Trees Were Burning, ISBN 0953123251, published in 2002.He gives his e-mail address(then);- firstname.lastname@example.org
Interestingly he also mentions another ongoing project concerning the Australian Airmen in Bomber Command during WW2.
This should reveal another unexpected link.. between Walsall Wood’s attractive ladies , the Dam Buster ..617..Squadron and Australia!
the ( then ) young lad whose curtains were ripped by the blast of the bombs nearby has recently told me that this raid was during the time that Birmingham was being blitzed. This puts the time around November 1940…hence “early in the war” as he said initially. Google “Birmingham air raids” reveal interesting recollections, and conveniently, gives an approximate date for the Sandhills Air Raid. The Google site menioned above gives some vivid accounts. Well worth reading.
It might be interesting to try to collect memories and recollections from family members of the Air Raid Wardens locally, during the last war. These were the people who did their jobs during the daytime, and then performed this vital task during the night-time raids or whenever the air-raid sirens sounded.
One amazing incident, told to me a few years ago by one of the Walsall Wood Bevin boys ( those men conscripted into service in the coal mine), was when the cage bringing the men up from the bottom of the pit shaft at the Coppy pit in Walsall Wood became jammed, or stopped suddenly..and the poor miners were trapped for hours, during an air raid, and somewhere in a shaft 1600 feet deep from top to bottom..and in pitch blackness. The one known local “incident “is the time when Sandhills was bombed…in November 1940
This gentleman’s silhouette now forms one of the characters of the People Statue , in Walsall Wood. It was a privilege to have known him for so many years.
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In a recent conversation with a kind gentleman recently whilst discussing another topic..He mentioned three bomb craters…as deep as he is tall..in the fields where Ryders Hayes lake is now, or thereabouts. he described them as stil smouldering when he went to see them..They had dropped during a night time attack. He estimated that they were in a line from Aldridge brickworks and the nearby railway marshalling yard! A collected a souvenir !
Also a confirmation of a night-time attack around the brickwoks( the same one?) when some local ladies went to see the conflagration for themselves..and came bak with candlewax over their shoes..previously mentioned in comments somewhere… Yesterday evening, another conversation, another old gent! He remembered the building “well alight”..and that it was a brick building “near the bridge” in Brickyard Road.
Both witnesses, retired professional people, still live locally.
a postscript worth waiting for. A phone call and a chat..with the gentleman whose farm is mentioned above. He recalls the two occasions when bombs fell in his fields. On the first occasion an interrupted stick of seven bombs landed on Selwyn Smith’s land..One bomb failed to expode. Two children and a soldier started to dig..to find the unexploded bomb! A policeman stopped them and sealed the canal track off ( this lead from the Anchor pub )at the bridge.
The second attack was soon after..not sure if it was a few days or the next day..) and “the biggest bomb the Germans ever made in the war” landed 70 yards away from the lock-keepers cottage on his farmland. It detonated when it impacted as far as the clay, making a 70 foot wide and 35foot deep crater. The detonation of this bomb also detonated the unexploded bomb( a 500 lb ) . The good policeman leapt over the canal bridge parapet and landed in the water. When I asked about shrapnel he told me that he and his brother timed the ack-ack fire from the ( not sure quite where it was ) ack-ack gun and could tell when the shrapnel would land. There was a lot of shrapnel landing from the shells.
Extensive damage to the cottage and to the farmhouse was caused.
I am very, very grateful to this kind gentleman for freely giving this personal recollection of these frightening events in his teenage years during the war and so record them for posterity, in fact.
keen to find out more about the quantity and locaton of shrapnel, I enjoyed a cup of tea and a chat with a dear friend of mine . From the conversation it appears that shrapnel was heard to fall on the tin roof of Collins’ (Express Parcel depot).at the junction of Brook Lane and Lichfield Road Walsall Wood..I had the impression that this was not a “one off” incident..This may give an indication of where the bombers were, and their heading. The recollection of Mr Ron Smith (Royal Oak articles) gives more information, too.
Also, another air-raid shelter.; at the corner of Stewart Road and Coronation Road, Walsall Wood.
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