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Wednesbury soldier who survived bullet in head

By Black Country Bugle  |  Posted: March 26, 2014

By Gavin Jones

  • Carnaby Ansdell is second from right in the third row from the front, with moustache

  • Official recognition from the Coldstream Guards of Carnaby's part in the war

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MANY of our menfolk have traditionally joined their local regiment in times of war – for most Black Country lads that would have meant the Staffords or the Worcesters.

But there are plenty of men who chose other regiments for various reasons, often based miles from home; and when huge numbers of soldiers were wiped out in one go during the First World War, decimating their regiments, new recruits were often called up and sent to whoever needed them most.

The latter could well have been the reason why Carnaby Ansdell, the soldier second from right in the third row from the back, joined the Coldstream Guards in 1916, which is when the picture was taken.

Our thanks to his grandson, Brian Ansdell, for bringing this photo to us. He tells us that Carnaby, who was running a pub in Wednesbury with his wife Sarah when he was called up, was a Lewis machine gunner, and once out at the front, at the Somme, he was shot in the head. By some miracle he survived; the bullet passing straight through and out of his mouth.

Carnaby managed to return to working life once the war was over, and in fact you may have seen him in our 20 February edition, when he was pictured at the Regent Cinema in Dudley in 1948, alongside actress Ann Crawford in his role as the cinema's commissionaire.

The picture is unlikely to have been taken in the Black Country, but there is every chance there were other local lads called up alongside Carnaby Ansdell. If you should recognise anyone, please get in touch by letter, phone, or email: gjones@blackcountrybugle.co.uk.

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