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Forgotten WWI tributes found in Brierley Hill church

By Black Country Bugle  |  Posted: July 31, 2014

By Dan Shaw

Pictured, from left, are Barry Evans, Tim Sunter (Brierley Hill Community Forum), Rev David Hoskin (Team Rector Brierley Hill Church), Tony Whittaker, Lyn Whitaker, Maggie Titmus, Bob Titmus

Pictured, from left, are Barry Evans, Tim Sunter (Brierley Hill Community Forum), Rev David Hoskin (Team Rector Brierley Hill Church), Tony Whittaker, Lyn Whitaker, Maggie Titmus, Bob Titmus

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TWO tributes to the war heroes of Brierley Hill have been rediscovered at St Michael's Church after being lost for many decades.

This week 100 years ago Europe descended into the chaos of war, with Britain entering the fray on the stroke of midnight, August 4, 1914.

Peace came four years later but at such a terrible cost. The people of Britain were united in a desire to commemorate the sacrifice of those who fought and those who died. Many parishes drew up Rolls of Honour recording the brave men who answered the call to arms.

But as the years passed attitudes changed. The men who returned from the trenches rarely spoke of their experiences and many preferred to forget the horrors of the "War to End All Wars", especially as the hardships of the Great Depression hit home and when the nation once more went to war.

This may explain why these two rolls of honour were forgotten until now.

Recently, St Michael's Church, Brierley Hill, was threatened with closure, but the parishioners were determined that the church that had stood over the town since the 1760s should not go the way of so many others. Local businessman Tony Whittaker has led efforts to restore the church's interior and it was this work that turned up the lists.

"The gallery was full of lots of old stuff and, quite, frankly it was bit of fire risk," said Tony. "There were paintings and all sorts of things but when my son Steve found these two scrolls he straight away recognised them for what they were."

One roll of honour is dated 1917 and is for the Men's Bible Class. It is richly illustrated, the names of the men surmounted by the flags of the victorious allies. The second is headed "The Delph District Roll of Honour". This may have originally hung at the Delph mission church, a tin church demolished after mining subsidence. Tony thinks that the original frames were broken and either the money or the will was lacking to have them repaired and so they were dumped in the gallery.

The two rolls of honour have now been re-framed and will hang once more inside the church alongside the memorials to the two world wars.

Rev David Hoskin, team rector of St Michael's, said, "It is wonderful to rediscover these rolls of honour, especially now as we are marking the 100th anniversary of the war."

Tim Sunter, of the Brierley Hill Community Forum, has begun the great task of trying to trace the stories behind the names and would like to hear from anyone who thinks they may be related. He has found a 1918 clipping from the County Express about the one roll of honour. The Bible class was run by Mr G. Fred James and the artwork was by Fred H.L. Harris, a local art student.

The men of the Brierley Hill Bible class: F. Allen, H. Bowater, P. Brown, F. Brown, C.J. Brookes (US Army), J. Bayton, J.I. Crowe, J. Cooper, A. Catchpole, W. Cotterill, Jas. Cooper, H.L. Davies, I.H. Fereday*, P. Horton*, W. Holt*, J. Jones, I. Jones, J. Lloyd, I. Lane, P. Lester, W.H. Lester (Canadian Army), W. Mallen*, B. North, W. Patrick, George Sheaf, J.W. Smith, A.E. Smith, H. Shaw, J. Southall, W.H. Southall, I Sanders, J.H. Turner*, J. Whiston and J.W. Watson.

The men of the Delph Roll of Honour: A. Allden, A. Ashmore, J. Ashmore, T. Ashmore, P. Attwood, F. Ball*, J.T. Bate*, P. Bridgens, B. Billingham, B. Billingham, T. Billingham, A.J. Batham, W. Barnbrook, T.H. Barnbrook, A. Bash, H. Bash, J.H. Bash, J. Brown,. B. Bullock, C. Bowe, J. Buttler, B. Cartwright*, W. Cartwright*, B. Cartwright, F. Cartwright, E. Cartwright, J. Cartwright, S. Cartwright, W. Cartwright, D. Culshaw*, J.P. Chance*, L. Cotterill, W. Cornbill, G. Cranage, W. Carter, F.P. Chance, H. Deeley, G. Deeming, G. Dews, J. Dews, W. Dixon, A. Dudley, R.H. Dunn, H. Edwards*, J. Edwards, W. Edwards, N. Evans, A. Fletcher, T. Fletcher, C. Gordon, W. Gordon, J. Gaudrin, M. Gittens, E. Gray, J. Green, J. Green, J. Green, C.I. Gill, J.W. Gardiner, H. Gardener, A.T. George, I. Grainger, A. Higgs*, W. Hobson*,C.H. Hawkeswood*, P.D. Hawkeswood, S.C. Hawkeswood, J.R. Hawkeswood, R. Hall, C. Hart, C. Harris, T. Harris, J.T. Heathcock, W.G. Highfield*, C. Homer*, G. Hill*, J.M. Hill, G. Hill, J.H. Hennings, D. Jones, G.E. Jones, T. Jones, W. Jones, R. Kent*, J. Kendrick, H. Lewis*, P.G.Lester, W.C. Mallen*, S.E. Marshall*, J.C. Marriott, J. Martin, W.H. Martin, W. Marsden, W. Molineux, T. Morgan, S. Nicholls, G. Oakley, J.W. Plant, D. Plant*, W. Pearson*, C.G. Pearson, C. Parkes*, T.C. Parkes, J. Parish, S. Prosser*, G. Partridge, J. Quigley, J. Radford, W. Radford, R. Radcliffe, J. Roberts, J.H. Roberts, W. Roberts, J.H. Rutter*, E. Sankey, J.T. Sankey, E. Sheppard, G. Shaw, A. Short, T. Skelding, J.W. Smith, W.H. Southall, S. Stevens*, W. Stevens, A. Stevens, W. Stevens, E. Tolley*, H. Tonks, C.E. Trevis, B. Taylor, J. Thursfield, J. Underhill*, J. Underhill. A. Underhill, A. West, J. Plant, R. Palmer, T. Jefferies, H. Wood*, E. Wood, J. Wood, C. Wood, J. Wood, P. Wood, J.E. Wood, J. Wood, F.R.G. Webb, A.H. Webb, J. Webb, T.E. White, A. Whiley, S. Williams, G. Wothers, W. Green, I. Palmer and G. Pritchard.

Those names marked * died in the war.

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