The Parish of St. Giles Willenhall
Walsall Street, Willenhall, West Midlands
Priest in Charge – Rev. Sue Boyce
In honour of the fallen in the two World Wars
This is out church’s way of giving love and homage to the people of Willenhall who gave their lives so that we may walk in freedom.
We hope you enjoy our ‘Two World War Grave Tour’.
Begin by turning left out of the main church door following the path around the back of church some sixty steps. This should bring you to the centre path of the upper graveyard. Walk 8 steps and look towards the right wall. Against the wall you will see two graves.
No 1 and 2 is the joint memorial of Edwin Ford – killed in action 9th July 1918, 25 years old, Australian Infantry buried in La Kreule Cemetery, Hazebrouk France. Also, of his brother Fred Ford – killed in action 13th October 1915, 26 years old, Lance Corporal in the North Staffs Regiment and buried in Loos Memorial France. Both were the sons of Edwin John and Florence Ford of 34 Fisher Street, Willenhall.
Turn around and look immediately left, you will see our first Commonwealth War Grave 5055033.
No 3. Private Jack Edwards, Royal Military Police, died 3rd November 1945 aged 33 years. Jack was the son of John and Bessie Edwards and the husband of Ellen Elizabeth Edwards all residents of Willenhall.
Walk on ten steps again looking left, you will see our second Commonwealth War Grave 3050821
No. 4 Sergeant James Alfred Arthur (Jimmy) Talbot, R.A.F. Reserve – died 19th June 1945, 19 years old.
Continue 5 steps to see the Commonwealth Grave 1617394.
No. 5 Gunner Walter Tonry, Royal Artillery- died 16th June 1945, 34 years old. Son of Arthur and Sarah Tonry of Willenhall and husband of Marie Tonry. Walk forward 10 steps to see a memorial grave
No. 6. The grave of Barry Edward St. Ledger, Lincolnshire Regiment, died of his wounds in Holland on 6th October 1944, 33 years old. Buried in Heverlee War Cemetery, Belgium. Son of William and Myra St. Ledger and husband of Clara.
We now enter the lower churchyard. Please be careful underfoot as the paths are grassy and slippery. Taking 18 steps enter the main extension and turn left. Walk another 16 steps and turn right onto the main path. Take another 8 steps and looking to your right, you will see Commonwealth War Grave 154736
No. 7 Gunner Arthur Edge, Royal Garrison Artillery, died 27th June 1918, 24 years old.
Looking beyond Gunner Edge’s grave slightly to the left and on six steps into the centre towards the holly tree, you will see an actual grave for a brave soldier who died of his wounds after the war but honoured here with his comrades.
No. 8 William Harold Benton, Air Mechanic 2nd Class RAF, dies 20th June 1920, aged 26. Son of Francis and Harriet Benton of 60 Gypsy Lane, Willenhall. Buried here in our churchyard.
Close by, another three steps, look left under the trees and you will see another memorial grave.
No 9 Henry Whitehouse – killed in action in France on 11th October 1918, Duke of Wellington’s West Riding Regiment, 19 years old. Buried in Wellington Cemetery, Rieux en Cambresis France. Son of Mr and Mrs E Whitehouse of 119 Gypsy Lane, Willenhall.
From here we walk 22 steps along the path and look to the right where we see a memorial grave.
No. 10 Private David E Pagett, 2nd Class of 2nd and 6th South Staffs Regiment, died 17th March 1919.
Walking on 10 steps you will see another memorial within a gravestone.
No. 11 Corporal Arthur C Walker, 1st and 6th South Staffs Regiment – died in Birmingham Military Hospital on 30th June 1918, 30 years old.
Immediately behind Corporal Walker’s grave is the Commonwealth War Grave 241720
No. 12 Private T Birch, South Staffs Regiment, died 27th January 1919.
Now we enter the extension where extreme care is needed as the path is uneven. Take four steps then turn right onto the small pathway, walk up this and you will be on a new main pathway. This has a large tree at its centre and our tour will return to this main pathway on several occasions. Standing on the main pathway with the tree to your right walk at a 45-degree angle to your left – take sixteen steps. Turn right and walk on another seven steps. Here you will see a memorial gravestone.
No. 13 Leslie Myatt, HMS Hunter Royal Navy, drowned at sea on 28th June 1945. Buried and remembered at Portsmouth Memorial. Son of George and Elsie Myatt of Willenhall.
Turn around and treading carefully return to the main pathway. Now face the Wakes Ground, take fourteen steps and turn left up the pathway. Taking eighteen steps look to your left and you will see the gravestone of:
No. 14 Harold Joseph Parkes – dies 11th August 1941, aged 26, Flight Sergeant with RAF Reserve. Son of Joseph and Hannah Parkes.
From here, walk carefully ten steps towards the fence. Turn right and walk five steps. Here you will find the gravestone of:
No. 15 David Fowler – killed in action, September 1918, 22 years old. Thought to be from Royal Fusiliers and buried at Vis en Artois Cemetery, France.
Take thirteen steps forward, turn left and walk another five steps then turn right and walk another eight steps. Looking to your left you will see the memorial grave of:
No. 16 Private Artur John Lockley – died 22nd March 1944, aged 22, South Staffs Regiment, buried in Taukkyan War Cemetery Rangoon. Husband of Vera Lockley.
Again, taking great care, go past Mr Parkes’ grave and return to the main pathway towards the large tree. At the end of the line of graves turn left and walk twenty steps noticing that all these graves face towards the wall. Turn left and take nine steps to a large black granite headstone. This is the memorial of:
No. 17 Ernest Bucknall – killed in action, 3rd February 1918, interred at Metz en Couture, France.
Return once again to the main pathway. Turn right towards the large tree. Taking seventeen steps turn left in front of the tree taking care of the loose grave on the corner. Take nine steps with the tree on your right. Looking down you will see our Church Warden worked hard and dug down to unearth the memorial grave for:
No. 18 Sergeant C H Bull – died 13th May 1920, Royal Army Service Corps. He is buried here in our churchyard.
Walk down the path at a slight angle, two steps and on your right, you will see a Commonwealth War Grave.
No. 19 Private W.A. Wood, South Staffs Regiment – died 21st May 1916.
Three more steps along the path and the right you will see a memorial grave for:
No. 20 Private S. Clees, South Staffs Regiment – died 18th September 1914.
A further six steps you will see another Commonwealth War Grave, this one is dedicated to:
No. 21 Guardsman J. G. Meredith – died 22nd January 1916, 22 years old, Grenadier Guards. Husband of Mary Ann Meredith, 62 Fosters Street, Darlaston.
Please feel free to approach all our war graves just be very careful under foot as the ground is very uneven. Carrying on from Guardsman Meredith walk another twelve steps towards the middle of the graveyard. You will see:
No. 22 Private Herbert Mansfield – died 10th March 1920, 19 years old, Kings Own Scottish Borderers. Son of Herbert and Florence Mansfield, 2 Cottage, Fibbersley, Willenhall.
Approaching this grave turn right and take fifteen steps. Back on the pathway take seven steps and look underneath the large holly tree. The last few of our war graves lie within this section of the graveyard. Underneath the holly tree you will see the Commonwealth War Grave of:
No. 23 Private J. E. Naven – died 1st February 1916, South Staffs Regiment, 37 years old. Husband of Annie Naven, 1 Bow Street, Willenhall.
Turn around on the path and you will see a memorial grave with a dedication to:
No. 24 Ernest Thomas Ashbrooke – killed in action 1917, age 37 years old, South Staffs Regiment, buried at Arras Memorial, France. Son of William and Harriet Ashbrooke, husband of Eliza Jane Ashbrooke of 30 Chapel Green, Willenhall.
Walk another six steps, looking to your right you will see the final two gravestones one behind the other.
No. 25 Private Alfred Arthur Rutter – died 25th May 1919, aged 19 years, South Staffs Regiment, buried Dueville Cemetery, France. Son of Arthur and Mary Ann Rutter of 2 Union Street, Willenhall.
No. 26 Private William Burrows – died 26th September 1917, aged 36 years, Kings Shropshire Light Infantry, buried in Tyne Cot Memorial, Belgium. Son of Thomas and Elizabeth Burrows, husband of Hamnet Burrows, 45 New Road, Willenhall.
This is the tour complete. To walk out take six steps turning right and then another nineteen steps which will return you to the very first pathway.
For the fallen…
“We shall not grow old as they that are left grow old. Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning. We will remember them”
God bless the lives of all who rest within our graveyard and beyond. May they rest in peace and rise in glory.