Hi folks – as sometimes happens there’s been a bit of a hiccup in normal service over the last couple of days due to work pressures and rather unusual rash local of news events, so the next few hours will see a few posts appear in a burst. Sorry if you’re waiting for something specific – if you are, feel free to give me a prod by email (brownhillsbob at googlemail dot com) or on social media – at the moment, I’m fighting to keep on top of stuff.
Traffic to the blog has increased massively lately and I’m having trouble keeping up. My apologies – things should sort in the next few days.
As you will no doubt be aware, it’s the centenary of our entry into World War One on Monday, 4th August 2014, and Walsall Council and other organisations in the borough have arranged some interesting, respectful and well considered events to mark the 100 years.
I must confess I’m finding the national commemorations mentally difficult, but well thought out on the whole. I find the whole subject of the Great War (never was a conflict named in such an unintentionally ambiguous, ironic manner) vexed and often misrepresented; whilst there was no doubt that the Second World War was fought over freedom, it’s hard to see what the first great conflict was about, and the ‘victory’ was certainly dubious.
Such a huge, pointless loss of young life, the destruction and the conflagrations it gave rise to – from the Spanish Civil War of the 1930s, to the Balkan Conflict of the 1990s, the Cold War and the hell of the battles in South East Asia – are hard to see in any other way than as a huge, human tragedy.
That so many young men died locally, nationally and across the world is a testament to the folly of conflict, and as I’ve stated before, I’m 100% with the thoughtful ruminations of veteran Harry Patch. Millions perished in a conflict settled around a table.
I am, of course, keen that we remember this event and mark it, and like we all do, I wish to remember and fully respect the lads who went off in the trains and the troop-ships to willingly give their all, but also the mothers, wives and sisters who suffered at home, either directly, or through bereavement.
The local imprint of this terrible conflict has been noted here before, with the help of fine contributors David Evans and Peter Cutler, with articles about local hero Arthur Burton, Levi Cooper, the history of the Prisoners of War up on Cannock Chase, the Christmas football match and more esoteric material relating to the Harrison family and their involvement.
If you have any related events you’d like me to advertise, please do drop me a line or comment on this post. I’d say never again, but events in the the Middle East of late seem to suggest the human race is a bit slow to learn the lessons of history.
Walsall Council issued the following Press Release:
With its Mayoress a casualty of the Black Country Zeppelin bombings and Victoria Cross awards for two borough servicemen, Walsall has plenty of memories from yesteryear to mark the 100th anniversary of Britain’s entry into World War One.
The Mayor of Walsall, Councillor Peter Smith, will host a commemorative day which begins at 11am on Monday 4 August with a veterans’ parade featuring the 143 Plant Squadron, the Royal British Legion, the Mercian Volunteer Regimental Association, Bloxwich and Walsall branches of the Royal Artillery Association and the Staffordshire Regiment Association.
The parade starts at The Crossing at St Paul’s, passes down Lichfield Street and the Council House before finishing in Leicester Street outside the Town Hall. The Mercian Regiment mascot, Private Derby, a Swaledale ram, will also take part accompanied by his two handlers.
The Mayor and Mayoress and their invited guests will take the salute from the veterans; a bugler will play the Last Post followed by a minute’s silence in memory of the war.
The Mayor’s guests include the Deputy Lord Lieutenant Colonel Tom Lloyd OBE, Walsall Council’s leader Councillor Mike Bird, chief executive of Walsall Council Paul Sheehan and the representative Colonel of the Mercian Regiment, Captain Shergold.
The Mayor said, “It is with great pride that I am able to host this commemorative event on the 100th anniversary of the First World War.”
“Walsall sacrificed so much during this war including the tragic loss of Lady Mayoress Mary Julia Slater who was killed in the Black Country Zeppelin bombings in 1916.
“Two of Walsall’s servicemen, John Carless and Charles Bonner, were awarded the Victoria Cross for their acts of bravery.
‘I’d like to thank the Walsall volunteers and council staff who have put a lot of time into the preparations that will mark Walsall’s respect for what their ancestors went through during World War One.’
Following the parade, a free event will be held in the Town Hall from 11.30am. A number of Walsall-related stands, pictures and information relating to World War One will be on display including John Carless VC’s Victoria Cross.
In the evening Walsall Council will mark the exact hour of the anniversary by turning off the council house lights between 10pm and 11pm, leaving a single lamp turned on in the Mayor’s Parlour.
Other council buildings taking part in the national LIGHTS OUT initiative from the Department of Communities and Local Government include Walsall Central Library, Gala Baths, Leather Museum, Forest Arts Centre, Local History Centre, Darlaston Town Hall and the Environmental Depot in Brownhills.
WW1 music will be provided by the Garry Alcock Band.
The Town Hall restaurant is offering a WW1 trench menu at £5.50 for two courses
The Town Hall exhibition stands include:
John Carless VC’s Victoria Cross
Kitchener Recruiting Stand
Kirkpatrick Ironmongers’ WW1 photos
Allotment display and produce
Schools’ Big Books display
Zeppelin photo display
Gaudier Brzeska sculpture
Walsall Local History Centre
Walsall Leather Museum