It’s been a little while since an update on our first ever full-length publication and progress has gathered speed!

We have now received the book’s foreword from Dr John Bourne and a draft of the publication is with the contributors for final checking. We are also still hoping that we are able to secure an image of a brass plaque at New Cross Hospital in honour of anesthetist, Frank Rhodes Armitage. He was killed at Flanders in 1917 and Roy Stallard’s chapter titled “From Flanders Fields to Wolverhampton” makes reference to this wonderful man.

A Summary of the Work

“Wolverhampton’s Great War, 1914-1921” was conceived as a contribution to the city’s centenary commemorations of the Armistice in 2018.  This first known attempt to produce a history of Wolverhampton and its people during the war helps to fill an obvious gap in our knowledge.  The book also serves as an ‘educational memorial’ that will hopefully encourage wider public interest and support further research into a dramatic period in British history. 

This volume contains a collection of articles by local authors on topics such as:  Zeppelin air-raids, how local hospitals treated battle casualties, the impact of the ‘Spanish ‘flu’, the wartime experiences of members of the Sankey family and the planting of trees as war memorials.  Also included are case-studies of local service personnel – from ordinary Wulfrunians to national heroes like Roland Elcock and Douglas Harris.  Wolverhampton’s Great War is meant to inspire people like you to carry out your own historical research and to be the first of many words on this subject, not the last.

Cover Illustrations

Front cover image: First Aid Tent, c.1915 – lithograph by Sir Frank Brangwyn (1867-1956). Brangwyn was an Anglo-Welsh artist born in Belgium. Self-taught, he produced over 12,000 works during his lifetime ranging from murals, oil paintings, water colours and etchings to designs for furniture, ceramics and jewellery. He was also an accomplished illustrator, creating book plates and posters. Brangwyn was made an official war artist during the Great War, gaining repute through his propaganda posters. Working in his London studio he relied on photographs from news agencies and illustrations from newspapers and periodicals for reference material. First Aid Tent is one of a set of six lithographic prints from Brangwyn’s series titled ‘At the Front’, which was printed as a set of charity stamps for the Daily Mail and Evening News in 1915. Brangwyn was particularly recognised for his war art. He became a Royal Academician in 1919 and was awarded a knighthood in 1941. First Aid Tent probably came into the possession of Wolverhampton Art Gallery when the artist donated many of his pictures to galleries in industrial cities across the UK.

This illustration is used courtesy of Wolverhampton Art Gallery and copyright permission of David Brangwyn. The Text was provided by Carol Thompson, Senior Curator, Wolverhampton Art Gallery

Back cover image: Competition drawing for Wolverhampton War Memorial, c.1922 – sketch by Robert Jackson Emerson (1878-1944). Born in Leicestershire, Emerson was appointed Second Master at Wolverhampton Municipal School of Art in 1910 – at that time located on Wulfruna Street, at the rear of the Art Gallery. Alongside his teaching, Emerson maintained a professional artistic practice and accepted commissions for public sculptures, most notably the memorial for Able Seaman Douglas Morris Harris, in St. Peter’s Gardens. He also created the marble sculpture War Memorial (He Is Risen) which originally stood in the main entrance of Queen Street Congregational Church. This image, from Emerson’s unsuccessful proposal for Wolverhampton’s main war memorial, depicts a young girl handing an offering to a marching soldier. The sketch is a plan for a bronze plaque that would have decorated the south side of the monument. A corresponding frieze, depicting a group of soldiers standing over a fallen comrade, was intended for the north side. The Wolverhampton Coat of Arms was to feature on the east face, with a wreath on the west.

This illustration is used courtesy of Wolverhampton Art Gallery and the text was provided by Dr Andrew Yarnold.

The Next Steps

The book is now in its final stages of production, with contributors reading a draft to spot any last gremlins in the works before the copy is sent to the printers. We expect this to be done in the next 6 weeks, after which we will celebrate the launch of the book with a special launch event. We will follow this up in 2020 with a spot at the Wolverhampton Literature Festival. Details of both of these events will be shared with you in advance; thank you for your interest and thanks to our wonderful team of contributors.