Sorry folks, bit of a reduced service this weekend. I’m a cyclist. The weather’s decent. It’s in my genes… normal service resumed soon!
Here’s an intriguing and somewhat sensitive thing from reader and local military historian Graeme Clarke, who readers may recall turned up the fascinating tale of ‘Walt’ Ruth Bagley, apparently from Walsall Wood. Graeme also contributed to other articles, including our hunt for the Freemasons Arms in Walsall.
Graeme is currently interested in finding the whereabouts of the grave, or any further information regarding Brownhills serviceman Jeffrey Roberts, who tragically died in service in this country, in somewhat unusual circumstances.
Ive been researching Brownhills men who have been killed in service for a number of years now and wondered if you could help trace where a serviceman, killed in 1955, is buried, or even a photograph of him.
I’m hoping not to upset any family so I will leave it to your discretion whether you use it or not, but it was 60 years ago.
PS I have tried to expand on that story of Ruth Bagley but have drawn a complete blank.
I include Graeme’s research below. Perhaps someone with access to relevant material can help – I know you lot love a challenge for a bank holiday weekend.
Comments, clarifications? Comment on this post or BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. Cheers.
Please be aware that this is fairly recent history and will still be sensitive.
18th Medium Regiment, Royal Artillery
Died in England on Wednesday 9 March 1955
Jeffrey was the son of John and Beatrice (nee Taylor) Roberts of 18, School Avenue, Brownhills but had immediately prior to his death been residing with his aunt, Mrs. Sarah Hill, in Great Charles Street, Brownhills. Only three days before his death he had attended the wedding of his brother.
Based at Larkhill, Wiltshire, Jeffrey was killed during an anti-tank shoot at Blackbull ranges, Larkhill, Salisbury Plain when there was an explosion in the breech of a 25 pounder gun. Gunner E. Bostock, two naval officers and a Royal Marine officer were also injured.
An inquest into his death was held at Larkhill on Saturday 12 March 1955, the Wiltshire Coroner, Mr. Harold Dale, presiding.
Sergeant Edward Morrison gave evidence that he was the Number 1 in a crew of six, the shoot being watched by naval officers on a course at the School of Artillery, Larkhill. Jeffrey was his Number 6 whose duty was to traverse the gun on to moving targets. For this purpose he was standing directly behind the gun.
Twenty rounds had been fired and there had been two misfires when the gun was cocked again and fired.
Sergeant Morrison stated that he was observing where the shot went and therefore did not see what happened but on hearing an explosion, looked round and saw Jeffrey lying dead on the ground.
Two naval officers who had been injured in the explosion gave further evidence.
Lieutenant David Erskine Charles Barrett stated that when a second attempt was made to fire the round an explosion took place and the breech ‘blew’. Jeffrey was thrown completely off the ground.
Lieutenant Ian Alexander McGregor stated that when the explosion took place the blast burnt his coat and something hit him in the arm.
Major Herbert Evans informed the Coroner that when he examined the gun after the explosion a portion of the breech ring was missing, the breech block being recovered some distance behind the gun. He added that a misfire was not a rare occurrence.
Captain William Griffiths, Royal Army Medical Corps, stated that cause of death was blast injury to the chest.
A verdict of ‘death by misadventure’ was recorded.
Jeffrey is recorded as being buried in Brownhills. He was 19 years of age and is commemorated on the Armed Forces Memorial, Alrewas.