There’s been a lot of interest in the touching story of Arthur Burton, the local young man who fought in the first world war, who later farmed land near Brownhills. I took the step of posting a link to the story in Julian Ward Davies’ excellent ‘Stonnall History Group’ on Facebook, as luck would have it at the same time as Desmond Burton, a member of the same family, joined the group. Desond had this to say:
By a lucky coincidence I joined the group just a few hours before the fascinating information on Arthur Burton was posted. (Cecil) Arthur Burton (1892-1974) was the younger brother of Garnet Burton (1891-1984), after whom Garnet Close in Stonnall is named. I am Garnet Burton’s grandson, now living in North Wales. Arthur’s daughter Pauline is still alive and lives in Aldridge. The Burton family originally came from the Greenhill/St Michael’s area of Lichfield (the Old Burton Road), and Arthur was born, according to the records, at Whittington. By 1912 Arthur & Garnet seem to have moved to Rushall Hall Farm, Leigh Road, and by 1916 they were at May Bank, Leigh Road. Garnet married into the Anson family who had farmlands in Rushall and lived at the Manor Arms as farmers/pub owners. Incidentally, with reference to some earlier postings, I was born at Wordsley House (this is more certain than that Tom King was born there), which is soon to be on the market as our mother died 3 years ago – and that’s why it hasn’t been painted recently! Lower Farm was where Garnet lived until he retired and built himself a bungalow just above where Garnet Close is now. I don’t recognise the background of the photo of Arthur in uniform; it is certainly not Lower Farm or Wordsley House. I don’t think Arthur’s family moved to Sandhills Farm until later (that’s where they lived in the 1950s when I was young), so I wonder if it is Rushall Hall Farm or May Bank. Has anyone got any pictures of these places?
This is remarkable – this is local historical curiosity connecting with the present in a very real way. I had no idea that Garnet Close derived it’s name that way. Julian Ward Davies, top local historian, had this contribution to make:
It appears that Arthur was Garnet Burton’s brother. There will be one or two anecdotes about Arthur in a forthcoming eye-witness history which we will be putting out in the near future.
So it looks like there’s more fascinating history to come there. While we’re on the subject, David Evans has again been wonderfully industrious, and he’s supplied a lot more material to post up – but sadly I’m running out of time today, so I’ll keep it to the following.
David emailed (and commented on the previous post):
Hi BobMr Burton’s diary is enthralling in many respects. There is mention of aeroplanes in action over the battle fields towards Passendale. It was here that France’s air ace, Guynemer was shot down in action, and there is a large memorial to him in Langemark. But also there is mention of a night-time bombing raid by a German plane.There is graphic mention of gas attacks by the British and by the Germans, over this part of the battlefield.There is the overriding sense of danger for this soldier who had to take messages – by foot, visual signalling or by telephone in the very heart of battle, and sometimes in the forward positions as close as 50 metres from “John” (the German front lines).I will send you one ‘Memoranda’ which details a day near White Chateau, Ypres, before the Military Medal incident, in fact. This building is along the main road to Menin, and nowadays is a restaurant, I understand.There are other local heroes, and this, I hope, will encourage their family members to offer their own stories.A Walsall Wood man who was a fighter pilot in WWI and who went on to become a very well-known and respected business man.A Walsall Wood builder, a WW2 soldier who was in the first wave of the Normandy Landings, at Arromanches.A Brownhills Royal Navy Sailor, born and grew up in Pier Street, torpedoed three times the last time being onboard the last vessel to be sunk in the war, a mine-sweeper.A Brownhills man, RAF, in the first planes to land at Bangkok at the end of the war to bring home the POWs from the Death Railways in Burma.I hope that others will come to light in due coursekind regardsDavid Evans
Many thanks for putting this memo in your blog. The entry for June 26th says:
‘We are given the privelage of swimming in a large pool in front of Chateau. A great many of us take it. This is the first swim I have had in France. A shell dropped over water when there was a lot in tonight but no one hurt they run with their togs in there hands.’
This was at Elverdinghe, just north of Ypres and west of the canal, the front line at the time. Readers may like to ‘Google Earth’ this.
The names ‘John’ or ‘Old John’ refer to the Germans!
The chateau is on the south side of the village.
Once again, I thank all concerned for the wealth of historical information they have seen fit to share and retell. This is a fascinating, emotional topic and one that is wonderful to peruse.