National armed Forces Day, this year, is on 30th June and to tie in with this event the Woodside Memory and History Group is holding an exhibition, one week earlier, on Saturday, 23rd June.
All proceeds from the exhibition will go to the Help for Heroes fund.
The Woodside group has done much to document the lives of those local men that gave their lives in the two world wars, producing a book Holly Hall Heroes Remembered, and those men will be the focus of the display, with a new DVD screening on their lives.
Among the local war heroes who survived the war and returned to do sterling work among their community was Joseph Greenaway MM, who for many years was headmaster of Holly Hall Secondary Modern School.
On display will be his First World War campaign chest, his uniform and medals and also his Second World War civil defence memorabilia.
Joseph Greenaway came from Dudley and he enlisted in 1915. He served with the 2/8th Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment, reaching the rank of sergeant, before he was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the 1/8th Battalion Worcestershire Regiment.
He saw active service in France, Belgium and Italy and was awarded the Medaglia d’Argento al Valore Militare (Silver Medal of Military Valour), the Italian equivalent of the British Military Cross. His citation read: “While out with a patrol, this officer discovered an enemy strong point defended by thick wire. He immediately attacked it with wonderful sangfroid and regardless of the dangers in overcoming obstacles, paying no heed to the violent fire from an enemy machine gun a little distance away, always in front of his men he got through the wire and rushed the position, destroying the machine gun and capturing the whole gun squadron.”
By all accounts Greenaway was a quiet and unassuming man but on this particular patrol his batman was killed by machine gun fire. Enraged, Greenaway led the assault on the position, injuring several of the enemy. Later, filled with remorse, Greenaway nursed one of the fatally wounded Austrian soldiers.
He promised the dying man that he would find his wife and tell her that her husband had died a brave man. After the war, true to his word, he found the widow and presented her with his own silver medal.
In the attack Greenaway was severely wounded in the shoulder and was discharged on 1st July, 1919. However, he was forced to fight for his war pension and having won his case he set about helping other ex-servicemen whose pensions had been withheld, holding surgery meetings at the Lion Inn, Pensnett.
For many years Greenaway was headmaster of the Holly Hall School, retiring in 1961.
We have two photographs of him at the school. The first shows him with the school’s senior football team in 1931. At the back, from left, are: Joseph Greenaway, S. Parkes, J. Haney, Mr P. Simpson, J. Clarke, H. Round and Mr A Claud. Sitting at the front are: R. Chilton, D. Elcock, Jack Jeavons, A. Blunt (captain), B. Plant, H, Edward, and R. Andrews.
The second photo comes from the 1958-59 season, when the school won the Duncan Edwards Cup. At the back are: Joseph Greenaway, Shipley, M. Wood, K. Hughes, M. Ledington, Mr Cook, R. Dainty, T. Smith, F. Wilson, and Mr Parkin. At the front are: K. Couldrey, M. Gray, V. Cooper, P. Dando (captain), D. Robins, R. Finch, and M Gutteridge.
The Woodside Memory and History Group’s Armed Forces Day Exhibition runs from 10am to 4pm, on Saturday, 23rd June, at the Woodside Community Centre, Highgate Road, Woodside, Dudley. For more details call Len Hughes on 01384 565291 or Val Worwood on 01384 865495.