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A Zeppelin Over Pelsall
A Zeppelin in Flight over England During WWI
It's probably hard to imagine what a terrifying sight this must have been during the war, but Mrs Broadhurst remembered it well when I interviewed her back in 2004.
Born in 1910, at the age of 4, WWI had begun and Pelsall, like all other towns and villages was plunged into darkness over night to confuse the enemy.
Mrs Broadhurst recalled distinctly what it was like back then. She told me that one of her clearest memories was seeing the Zeppelin.
As a very young child, about 4 or 5 she remembered her Dad picking her up and sitting her on the wall outside of their house in Wood Lane, by The Free Trade Inn. There, the two of them watched a Zeppelin pass over head and over the common in pitch darkness as the beams of the search light picked it up in their sights.
The photographs above and below, published in the Walsall Pioneer show some of the damage inflicted on the district by Zeppelin raids.
Mrs Broadhurst also remembered going to Walsall as a youngster with her school class from the Church School in Pelsall to witness the unveiling of the John Carless Memorial, which is situated outside Walsall Library.
The unveiling took place on 21st February 1920.
She recalled walking from the school to Rushall where they all got on a tram to take them to Walsall.
All of the children were presented with a certificate after the unveiling. Mrs Broadhurst remembers the certificate being put in the window of her clock at home.
Photographed above: Mr Bob Aldridge and Councillor Winn
Although the John Carless Memorial needs no introduction to most readers, far fewer are probably aware of the painting of John Carless which is situated in Walsall Town Hall.
The story of the painting has a fascinating and intriguing history and a link to Pelsall.
John Carless was the only serviceman to be honoured with the Victoria Cross for his service in WWI. He was awarded the Victoria Cross posthumously for his 'most conspicuous bravery and dedication to duty' in the Heligoland Blight on November 17th 1917. He was killed 6 days after his 21st birthday.
The painting of John Carless was discovered by Mr Graham Nunn, a coal merchant from Bloxwich, quite by chance.
He bought the painting from a shop in George Street, Walsall for £1.
The painting was in a dilapidated state, covered in scratches, stains and desperately in need of extensive restoration.
Mr Nunn asked a good friend, Mr Aldridge (of Pelsall), who is a professional artist to restore the painting.
Mr Aldridge studied art at Walsall Art School and Birmingham Art College and was one of the country's top wildlife artists of his time.
When Mr Aldridge received the painting for restoration an ear and part of the face was missing. The image of this war hero was almost unrecognisable.
After much needed time and attention, the painting was restored to its original condition.
Unfortunately the name of the original artist could never be found.
It is believed that the painting was copied from a photograph of John Carless after his death as he received his VC posthumously.
Following the restoration work of the painting, members of the local council, Councillor Winn in particular were keen to acquire the painting for the Town Hall.
When Mr Nunn was made aware of the interest in his painting, he very kindly donated it to Walsall Council as a memorial to John Carless, a very special figure in the history of Walsall.
The painting was handed over at a ceremony in the Mayor's parlour by Mr Graham Nunn and was accepted by Mayor Alderman A V Townsend.
The sister of John Carless, Mrs Dora Hearsey was present at the exchange and said that the painting was a very good likeness to her brother.
Walsall's mayor, Alderman A V Townsend, officially received the portrait of John Carless, the town's VC., in 1970. Mr Graham Nunn, is seen presenting the picture to the mayor. On the left is Mr Bob Aldridge, who restored the picture. To the right of the photograph is the V.C's sister, Mrs Dora Hearsey, and to her left of the Mayor is Councillor Mary McNulty.
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