For those following the touching story of Arthur Burton, thanks to David Evans and Desmond Burton, I can now wrap up the final instalment of the local lad’s military tale.
David Evans noted in an earlier comment…
Arthur Burton’s diary Tuesday 19 September 1916:
Arrived at Dover (on board he St. Denis) at 6 AM and entrained to Tunbridge then by motor to Tunbridge Wells where we are in a fine hospital called Westhall in Queen’s Road where we are being looked after very well and the Sisters are very good to us. My head is still a little queer.
After all he been through, still a typical British understatement!
Arthur’s terrible adventure had ended. He was repatriated to England on 16 September 1916 and spent time recuperating in a hospital in Royal Tunbridge Wells. The building still stands today, a silent witness to the glorious work undertaken by the nurses and staff of the Kent 44 VAD volunteers who helped wounded soldiers, many of whom were shell-shocked beyond belief.
This trauma had often been recorded as ‘bruised head’ in the dressing stations near the batlefield. He had seen the first gas attacks in action, witnessed at close range the enemy’s terrible machine-guns’ deadly carnage played out in the fields before him. He had seen the first use of aeroplanes, as reconnaissance and then dog-fighters, and had felt the first air bombing raids. He had been in a town which was almost completely obliterated by enemy shelling. He had been courier, runner, messenger, wireless operator, had coded and sent or had taken these messages whilst under fire. He had received vital coded messages which he had to decode, all under bombardment.
Arthur had ben redeployed to three different battlefields; Laventie, Ypres, and the Somme, near Albert. He had marched for many miles in driving rain and in frost. He had bivouaked under snow. He had cycled many miles in all weathers and often under fire. He had seen comrades killed. Eventually he was broken physically and mentally by all that he had seen and suffered. Back home in England, and during his period of convalescence, he would meet his future wife, then rebuild a life and become a farmer again. But he never forgot.
Years after he died his family found his little diary, and one of the younger generation of his family went across the Channel to see the places Arthur had seen. They then took the time and trouble to put into readable form the diary’s contents.
Arthur lived out the rest of his life around the Stonnall and South Staffordshire area, a pillar of the community and well respected gentleman, as noted in previous posts. Desmond Burton, however, posted an interesting little note this morning to the Stonnall Local History group on Facebook which poses an interesting question about Wordsley House that’s been puzzling me for a while.
How did Wordsley House get its name?
WH has had its present name for no more than 120 years. We know from the house deeds that at the end of the 19th century it was owned by Dr William Harry [WH!] Cooke, JP, who lived there with his wife Harriet, 5 of their children and 3 servants. Dr Cooke was born at Wordsley, near Stourbridge, in about 1835, trained as a doctor (probably in Birmingham), and before coming to Stonnall he had lived in Aldridge for many years, where all 7 of his children were born between 1870 and 1883. He therefore must have moved to Wordsley House between 1883 and 1891. In the 1891 census his address is given simply as ‘Farm House, Stonnall Village’, so perhaps even then he had not yet given it the name ‘Wordsley House’.
By 1901 he had moved with his family to Stonnall Road, Aldridge. Dr Cooke was clearly used to large households: in 1881 there were 16 people in his Aldridge Home; 10 in Wordsley House in 1891, and 13 in 1901 in the Stonnall Road house. Dr Cooke died in 1902, aged 67.
Can anyone provide more information? E.G., where was his surgery?
If anyone can help there, please either comment here or on the Facebook group, please.