I have another post here today on the subject of local soldiers of the Great War, this time seeking assistance, from greatly respected war historian Andrew Thornton, who’s been working so hard to record the history of so many servicemen, local and not so local.
Andrew you’ll recall, recently sent me a fascinating article on the matter of a lad from Norton Canes who fought for the ANZACs – and it turns out, he wasn’t the only local lad who through emigration, ended up fighting for Commonwealth forces, a fascinating subject.
Today, Andrew is seeking help with the grave of a Norton lad interred at Brownhills in the ‘Churchyard Extension’ – in a grave apparently unmarked. Andrew isn’t local these days and he’s hoping someone may be able to locate the grave and let us know it’s current condition, with the ultimate aim of approaching the Commonwealth War Graves Commission for recognition if the plot is unmarked.
If I’m honest, I’m not even sure what’s classed are the Churchyard Extension at St. James. Anyone know?
Can you please help? If so please do comment here or mail me: BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. Cheers.
1284/488180 Sapper Sidney Harold Willner
466th (1/2nd North Midland) Field Company, Royal Engineers (Territorial Force)
Born at Pelsall on 19 June 1886, Sidney was the son of Frederick Robert and Pricilla Constantina Willner. He was baptised on 25 July 1886.
On 11 August 1902, aged 16, Sidney obtained employment with the London and North Western Railway at Hednesford Station as a junior porter, but was dismissed on 7 May 1903 for tampering with the luggage of passengers.
He married Eleanor Jeanette Morris in 1910 and they lived at The Hollies on Butts Lane in Norton Canes. Sidney was working at the Conduit Colliery as a hewer when he attested for 2nd North Midland Field Company at Norton Hall in 1911.
Embodied on the outbreak of the war, Sapper Willner volunteered to serve overseas in September 1914 and landed in France with 1/2nd North Midland Field Company on 1 March 1915.
Willner was disembodied on 14 December 1918, on being demobilised, and returned to work at the Conduit Colliery. He died on 29 March 1919 and is buried in St James Churchyard Extension at Brownhills, Grave Reference: 2nd Half. 4. 63.
As his grave is a private family plot, it is not marked with a Commonwealth War Graves Commission headstone and is noted as being ‘neglected.’ Sidney Willner is also commemorated on the war memorial at St James’ Church at Brownhills and his name is recorded on the brass plaque inside Brownhills Memorial Hall.