Honouring the local Fallen, an ongoing duty – help needed please

Hello folks – I have a very important request here from blog contributor, friend and historian David Evans who is helping a team from the Netherlands uncover the history of the forces that liberated their village of Dieteren in 1945. One of the lads to be lost was from Walsall Wood, Trooper Henry Hall.

‘Dieteren, Occupied by the Germans May 10, 1940 Liberated by the English January 16, 1945’ – Image from Henk Penders and the Liberation of Dieteren website to which he contributes.

My thanks and best wishes to all involved in this, it’s a stunning example of collaborative history and international cooperation, which is hugely prescient in light of the times.

I’ll let David explain:

Very recently a request was posted in the comments on Brownhills Bob’s blog for information about a Walsall Wood soldier who had been killed in action in the Netherlands during the Second World War.

Thanks to the wonders of technology – the blog primarily, the internet , the super help given by fellow reader and contributor Andy Dennis, it has been possible to complete most of the request.

In the Netherlands  there is an ongoing local history project to honour those who gave their lives to liberate the village of Dieteren, whereby local resident Mr Henk Penders and others have been compiling a book.

Following a Messenger call with Henk he sent me these links to the site detailing the history – they are in Dutch but if you open in Chrome they translate beautifully to English – they detail a remarkable military liberation operation in which Trooper Hall from Walsall Wood gave his all:

Main site – click here.

The last crossing The Story of Trooper Johnston and the Canadian Kangaroos – part 1

The last crossing The Story of Trooper Johnston and the Canadian Kangaroos – part 2

The remarkable level of detail in what is a fascinating story, both of the events and subsequent historical detective work, is a credit to Henk and those involved. It’s a touching and wonderful thing.

So here’s where help is needed from the community: What of  Trooper Hall?

A sobering document, generously shared by Henk Penders via David Evans. Click for a larger version.

Trooper Henry Hall served in the 9th Battalion of the Durham Light Infantry. The 1939 census confirms the military record, and that he lived in Walsall Road, Walsall Wood before enlisting.

image from the Mayo collection,. from ‘Memories of Old Walsall Wood’ by Bill Mayo and John Sale.

David and Henk are trying to locate surviving members of the Hall family, that Henry may be honoured for his sacrifice. It’s possible that Ivy Hall may still be living locally (that would be possibly Ivy’s maiden name).

If you can help, please contact Bob by commenting here, or emailing him on BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com, or pull him aside and have a word on social media, please.

I would like to express my personal thanks to Mr Andy Dennis for his help and to Brownhills Bob for his expertise and assistance, and to Mr Henk Penders in the Netherlands for his amazing work to honour our fallen.

David

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2 Responses to Honouring the local Fallen, an ongoing duty – help needed please

  1. ray share says:

    there was a lady IVY BROOKS nee HALL she lived in clayhanger rd brownhills

  2. Ian Moseley says:

    Dear Brownhills Bob,

    I saw your request for information on Henry Hall of Walsall Wood while looking at your site last night. I am originally from Brownhills but now live in Canada and have some information which may be useful to the researchers.

    As per the burial record provided by Henk, Private Henry Hall is buried in Mook War Cemetery, a few miles south of the city of Nijmegen in the Netherlands. My dad’s brother, Arthur William Astle, is buried in the same cemetery (shot down over Millingen aan der Rijn in 1941).

    Mom and dad visited the cemetery in 1968 to find my uncle’s grave and, while they were there, dad by chance spotted Henry in the cemetery register and saw that he was from Walsall Wood.

    When my dad got back to England, he tried to find Henry’s mom and dad, Olive and Samuel, to let them know that someone had visited their son’s grave. I believe he took a photo of Henry’s headstone to show them. Sadly, despite asking several people in Walsall Wood, he was never able to find them. The only clue came from someone he met on the street who said that Samuel and Olive had lived in an old house down by the canal, somewhere just before the bridge opposite Trevor the Barbers, but by 1968 the house had been demolished and nobody knew what had become of them.

    At the start of November last year, just before the Armistice Day commemorations here in Canada, the Casualty Identification Review Board of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission announced they had discovered the identity of an unknown Canadian soldier buried in Mook War Cemetery, something that was widely publicised at the time and which made the national news. It was Trooper Henry Johnston of Alberta, the same soldier mentioned by Henk in the links he provided:

    https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/canadian-soldier-identified-1.5786327

    Henry Hall and Trooper Johnston both died in the same operation on the same day, 17th January 1945, Henry Hall in Dieteren and Trooper Johnston in Baakhoven which are two adjacent settlements.

    What is more they are buried next to each other in Mook War Cemetery, Henry Hall in plot III.B.2 and Trooper Johnston in III.B.3. My uncle is also buried in the same row but on the other side of the cemetery aisle. All of them were initially buried elsewhere and later moved to Mook when the cemetery was established after the war.

    I have visited the cemetery several times down the years and seen Henry Hall’s grave. I work for an international company and have a team in the nearby town of Ede-Wageningen. I last visited the cemetery in February 2020, just before everything started closing down.

    Trooper Johnston’s headstone was due to be replaced and I read somewhere that a commemoration service was being planned for the graveside as soon as the Covid situation has eased in the Netherlands.

    I hope that this information will be useful to Henk and the others.

    With best regards,
    Ian Moseley

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