Can anyone help Bill?


Military men, and a patriotic gathering on a doorway. But where, and when? Image supplied by David Evans from the Bill Mayo collection.

Here’s an interesting enquiry from the Young David Evans to see if we can help local historian Bill Mayo. Bill is the wonderful man and collector of local photos who co-wrote great books on Brownhills, Walsall Wood and wider borough history. Without Bill’s work, local history would be very much the poorer.

Bill would like to know more about the above mystery image. Can anyone fill in the blanks? David recognises the cleric as the Reverend Eric Richardson, but who are the other two soldiers? Who are the other folk, dressed for the occasion? The plaque and wall – a pub perhaps, village hall maybe?

The image is a little on the small side. Hopefully we can get a bigger scan.

Please, any help we can offer Bill would be wonderful. Please comment on this post or mail me on BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. Cheers.

David wrote:

Hi Bob

I was recently given this photo by our own wonderful local historian, Bill Mayo, whose books will be known to many. He has asked for help in identifying the people, location and date that this photo was taken.

I certainly recognize the Reverend Eric P. Richardson, who was a local Methodist Minister in the early 1950s, and is mentioned in the Walsall Wood Ebenezer booklet of 1951. I was not aware of his military service background, though.

Please, dear Bill Mayo has been so generous and supportive of local history research , and has helped me personally in my own research, I will be delighted if your blog readers can help in this quest

kind regards, and many thanks


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23 Responses to Can anyone help Bill?

  1. Perdo says:

    For info…September 1951, Lichfield Mercury

    KING—LOTE. — The marriage took place on September 15th, at Robreth Methodist Church Brownhills West, at a fully choral service by the Rev. Eric Richardson, of Leslie John King, of Bumtwood. and Jean Sylvia Lote, Brownhills West

  2. Tony Jakeman says:

    Just a few thoughts.
    Is that the Mayor in the light coloured mac, wearing something round his neck, guy behind him has some kind of leather strap round his neck. Service flags in the background. What are the uniforms? Which service? Building is not new, theres plants growing up it.
    Is it the dedication of the plaque on the wall? I could try some photoshop magic on a better scan to decipher the writing.

    • gabriel says:

      The chap on the left of the trio is wearing Army uniform (Sam Browne belt, no rank stripes on cuff). The Rev and the chap on the right are both in RAF uniforms (cloth belts, Rev has stripes – Flight Lieutenant or Squadron Leader? Difficult to make out).

      • gabriel says:

        Had a scan through the London Gazette looking for a notice of appointment, and although I didn’t find the Rev I did note that Chaplain’s were all commissioned with the rank of Squadron Leader (similar to how doctors automatically commission as Captains in the Medical Corps, rather than starting as 2Lts).

  3. Clive says:

    The plaque on the wall as the British Legion motto on the top (Lion Head with ribbon)

    • gabriel says:

      Definitely; and the chap at far left could be wearing a standard bearer’s sling, too (the strap over his shoulder?) The right-hand flag has detail on it that is not clear but would be at least consistent with the Legion’s National Standard – including the fringe.

  4. Pedro says:

    The Brownhills Branch of the British Legion is only mentioned a couple of times in the newspaper archives, and in 1936 the annual meeting was held at Wilkin Road Club.

    Names mentioned include Mr JG Brewe, Col C Hatton, Cpt PG Parsley, and Mr EV Holt.

  5. gabriel says:

    I found a Rev. Eric Paton Richardson in the London Gazette issue 35885 published on the 29 January 1943. I don’t know if it is the same Eric P. Richardson but the extract reads:
    To be Chaplains (emergency) with the relative rank of Sqn. Ldr:
    [other names omitted]
    Rev. Eric Paton RICHARDSON”

    It lisys his service number as 134643.
    Can be viewed as a pdf here:

  6. Pedro says:

    In one of the comments above the name Colonel C Hatton was mentioned. In 1932 he was described as Hon Colonel of the 46th Division of the Royal Engineers, and President of the Cannock and Brownhills Branches of the British Legion.

    In October 1932 he was presented with a surprise portrait of himself in uniform, by the Brownhills Branch.

    The Colonel said that it had always given him great pleasure to be among Brownhills men, because they had never let him down. He wanted to remind them that it was just seventeen years on Thursday, October the 13th, that they stood together in that Hohenzollern redoubt behind Loos, and they had not let him down then, nor since…

  7. David Evans says:

    Hi Bob
    Thanks to everyone and especially to Tony.I have now seen a print photo from that events. With the aid of a magnifying glass I can decipher

    Brownhills British Legion
    In memory of those who died in the wars1914-1918 1939-1945

    The name Parsley has been suggested..can only find home guard reference to Mrs Parsley helping with the refreshments
    Fo we know where the British Legion Club or such was past WW2
    the gent in the long mac, front left..was this Cllr Breeze ?

    The quest continues!
    Kind regards

  8. Pedro says:

    Might be a red herring but..

    November 1943 there was a presentation of a plaque to commemorate the successful Wings for Victory campaign, when a grand sum of £107,296 was raised in Brownhills Urban area…

    Large attendance at B’hills Memorial Hall, Flight-Lieutenant HC Glen RAF, Cllr FR Roberts, Cllr J Blackmore…

  9. David Evans says:

    Hi Bob
    Further investigations reveal the following;-
    The gentleman on the left, wearing a trilby hat, is Councillor Proffitt who has his wife by his side. She is partly obscured by Councillor Breese who is wearing his Chairman of the Urban District’s badge of office
    The lady holding her handbag is indeed Mrs Parsley and was the area organiser for the WVS during the war. These good ladies of the WVS “helped to provided refreshments “ according to the Home Guard memoirs in the South Staffs records. They ran one of the “British restaurants” and the Brownhills canteen/restaurant stood behind the former Central Schools…and the concrete stand for this building can be seen by the block of garage to the rear of the former playground.
    The Army officer nearest to the plaque is Major Parsley, and I understand that he and his wife lived in ill House in Mill Road. The Reverend is Eric Richardson who lived in Pelsall. The identity of the other RAF office is unknown.
    The occasion seems to have been the unveiling of the British Legion memorial Plaque, probably at the British legion Club which stood in Lichfield Road Brownhills and almost opposite the Memorial Hall.
    I am delighted that this photo seems to be” lifting a veil” on another part of local history…and the important part played by the WVS. I do hope that the plaque, which has been away from the public eye for many years, can be re-instated somewhere, if it still exists, that is
    I would like to extend my thanks to those kind blog readers and those local people who have helped me in this quest.
    kind regards

  10. David Evans says:

    HI BOb
    oops.. Councillor Breeze…Mill House….and the year was probably 1948/1949.

  11. gabriel says:

    According to the London Gazette of 25 March 1955 the Legion was based at “Melrose Villa”, 48 Lichfield Road:

    “Advertisement of Cancelling.
    NOTICE is hereby given that the Registrar of Friendly Societies has, pursuant to the Industrial and Provident Societies Act, 1893, this day cancelled the Registry of the BROWNHILLS BRITISH LEGION CLUB Limited (Register No. 13050R Staffs), held at “Melrose Villa,” 48, Lichfield Road, Brownhills, Walsall, in the county of Stafford, on the ground that the Society has wilfully and after notice from me violated the provisions of the said Act in having failed to furnish the annual returns of the said Society for the years 1952 and 1953. The Society (subject to the right of appeal given by the said Act) ceases to enjoy the privileges of a registered society, but without prejudice to any liability incurred by the Society, which may be enforced against it as if such cancelling had not taken place.—Dated the 16th day of March, 1955.
    C. B. CRABBE, Chief Registrar.”

    With the demolition of some of the properties – and subsequent replacement – I don’t know just how trustworthy the numbering of the houses now is, but the current No.50 & 52 are “Cedar Cottage” and the current No.48 is certainly of the same period (c.1901). That would make this the location of the photograph:,+Brownhills&hl=en&ll=52.648958,-1.932416&spn=0.001207,0.003098&sll=52.650328,-1.926019&sspn=0.009659,0.024784&oq=48+lichfiel%3Bd&hnear=48+Lichfield+Rd,+Brownhills,+Walsall+WS8+6HT,+United+Kingdom&t=h&z=19&layer=c&cbll=52.648923,-1.932583&panoid=iNfWLeNfVnHz6F9aMz44sg&cbp=12,148.23,,0,4.25

  12. Hi everyone

    Belated, I know, but I’d just like to thank you all for the kind contributions to this, and for the recovery of another bit of lost history. I know Bill Mayo isn’t a chap who goes online, but David told me in an email this week that he’s been bowled over with the response to this.

    Frankly, he’s not the only one.


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