The mystery of the car in the bomb crater: Can you help with the local link?

I’ve become aware in the last few days of a remarkable history project relating to an incident during the Coventry Blitz and an absolutely iconic image of the destruction following the Second World War air raids that decimated the city.

An amazing, stunning image of the destruction of Coventry in World War Two. But there’s a mystery within. Image kindly supplied by Peter Garbett.

Peter Garbett, admin of the ‘Visit Historic Coventry’ group, is determined to find out as much as he can about this image and the car in the crater, in which one man sadly died.

There is a Walsall and Hednesford connection, too.

I’ll let Peter explain: This is stunning, both for the fascination of the project and for the wealth of information so far assembled. Real, solid community local history in action.

He wrote:


I’m an Admin on ‘Visit Historic Coventry’ as you may remember Coventry was bombed to pieces on the 14th November 1940.

The above photo shows one car in a bomb crater. We have seen this historic photo over the years but knew nothing about the owner of the car and we just wanted to know more.

We set ourself a task of discovery which had led us to Walsall.

We have found out quite a bit of information about the owners and the driver. The Owner was the landlady of a Coventry pub the greyhound, in the old medieval city prior to and post WW11 bombings. We understand the family originally came from Walsall area and the landlady certainly retired back here. We would be delighted if we could find out and relatives or descendants or of friends who can add to this story. The information we have so far is direct from our post:

We are looking to complete the story of this iconic picture and tell the inside story of the family that surround it. We also want to know what happened to the car? A Singer Nine leMans (which we understand was driven away after), it was built between 1933 and 1937. Note the forward handles on the rear hinged ‘coach doors’ and the lack of running boards, also note the opening quarterlight on the rear edge of the drivers door, most unusual.

The story so far we have discovered that the owner of the Singer Nine leMans car in the crater was 59 year old Mrs Mable Harriet Jones (nee Hawkswood) Landlady of the Greyhound pub, 118 Much Park Street, in 1940.

Mable was the youngest of 11 children born to Charles Hawkswood, lock keeper at Great Barr and his wife Emma nee Lewis. Mabel’s husband was Clement James Jones who was a tailor (cutter) by trade who had turned his hand to the license trade in 1933 when he took over the Greyhound pub, his wife Mable took over the license after his death in 1937 who had left £100 in his will.

It was their son 36 year old Clement Jones who was a bar assistant at the pub that his mother ran who was the driver of the vehicle who was sadly killed in the incident. Clement junior was born in Walsall in 1904.

We understand there was one surviving passenger who strolled around all night in a complete daze. Who was this? Clement (son) was buried in the mass grave in London Road Cemetery under the name of C Jones (see photos).

Mrs Mable Jones died on 7th December 1968 at 7 Jessel Road, Walsall leaving an estate of £11,206. No beneficiaries are mentioned in the probate

In 1911 they were living in Hednesford.

Are there any descendants today?

Does anyone know the story of survivor? What happened to the car? Does anyone know the registration number?

Are you related? Please help complete this story.

Does anyone have pictures of Mable Jones or Clement?

We want to bring this story right up to today. Please can you help us with information?

See the more at the Historic Coventry website here.

Any help would be appreciated

Peter Garbett

If you can help with this, please do – it really has captivated me. You can contact Peter directly via Facebook by clicking here, or via the Historic Coventry website here.

You can, of course, also comment here, tug my coat on social media or mail me on BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com, and I’ll pass any info on.

My best wishes to Peter for a wonderful, fascinating thing.

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5 Responses to The mystery of the car in the bomb crater: Can you help with the local link?

  1. andkindred says:

    There is a tree on Ancestry, which includes the people mentioned, and I have messaged the owner.

    What follows is probably already known, but it adds a little detail for locals.

    In the 1881 England Census Mabel, 5 months, with family (10 older siblings), at Ten House Row, Birmingham Road, Great Barr (where she was born). Her father was a lock keeper.

    Though not named on the old OS mapping, it appears Ten House Row stood next to the Australian Arms, opposite Merrion’s Wood. Today there is a house named Hillside on the site of the Australian Arms, just north of the entrance to Aston University Sports Ground. From Google Earth; could be the same building. The row is long gone.

    The 1891 Census records the family at Canal Lock House, Pleck (in the south of Walsall). Ditto 1901 – Mabel as Harriet, tailoress.

    In 1911, with husband Clement, tailor (cutter) at 71 Rangemoor, West Hill, Hednesford.

    The 1939 Register has Mabel H Jones, widow, Licensee – Public House, with son Clement H, Barman, at 118 Much Park Street, “Greyhound Inn”, Coventry.

    Best wishes

  2. Pedro says:

    An interesting story, but is it necessary to know that someone left a hundred quid in their will?

    Clement James Jones seems to have been in the licencing trade from around 1916 when he was granted a licence for the King’s Arms, Hednesford. In 1932 he appears to have been the Steward at the Barras Green WMC before taking on the Greyhound.

  3. Graham says:

    I was brought up in the Pleck. The canal was at the bottom of our garden and, much to my parents’ concern, my playground! I can’t recall a lock on the local canal. So now we happear to have an additional mystery.

  4. Joanne Brown says:

    Hi, Andkindred kindly messaged me on site. Charles and Emma Hawkswood are ancestors of mine going back many years on my Mothers Grandmothers side of the family. This is the link of Charles Hawksward on my Family tree if you are interested in seeing it 🙂 It names all of the children they had besides Mabel xx

  5. Anne says:

    Hi I believe the dazed man was my dad Albert Caiger as this is the story that was told by my mum Gertie
    He was trying to get home to her in Cheylesmore.

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