Pelsall During the War

Pelsall During the War

Above: Children standing outside the Central Hall in Station Road, Pelsall.  The brick built wall in front of the building was a blast wall which was put there during war time to protect the building.  The Central Hall was used by the ARP as their headquarters during war time.

As the men of Pelsall left for war, women and children stayed in our then rather rural village.

Unlike many other subjects mentioned in the Pelsall Times magazine, war was seldom mentioned.  On the odd occasion however folk would recall what it was like to live in Pelsall during the war and moreover how the presence of war changed how Pelsall as a village looked.

Perhaps the most striking image that has been recalled is that of the presence of anti aircraft guns which were present at the junction of Paradise Lane and Grove Crescent.

Today it is hard to envisage, however this very real image of that time has remained with the gentleman who was a child at the time.

Mr Parks recalled not only their presence, but also that they were on occasion fired.

With the presence of war the people of Pelsall and the village in which they lived had to be protected.

The primary source of course was the Home Guard, whose headquarters was at the 'Sycamores' in Church Road, Pelsall during the Second World War.

The handing over of this property for use by the Home Guard was particularly significant when considering how the war bought the community of Pelsall together.

The Sycamores, Church Road, Pelsall

Photograph courtesy of Mr A Weller, Pelsall History Centre

In its past, The Sycamores had belonged to Boaz Bloomer, owner of Pelsall Coal and Iron Company, and Mrs Lizzie Wilkes, mother of Mr Wilkes of Wilkes Foundry.

Protection of the village was paramount as the whole community worked together.

With the constant threat of bombing taking place in our village, people had to be protected inside and outside their home.

Air raid shelters were a necessity with almost every home having one or having access to one.

Many readers who I have spoken to recalled how they would huddle under the stairs or a table on hearing the aeroplanes thunder overhead.

Air raid shelters had to be safe and strong, and at the rear of one of our properties, the air raid shelter was built so sturdily that part of it still stood back in 2002.

Not happy with the way the air raid shelter had been built, when inspected, the owner of the property at the time insisted that the shelter be knocked down and built again, this time it was to be built 2 to 1 cement.

Once built this time, the owner was happy.

Many years after the war, the owner of the property decided that it was time for the shelter to be demolished, and took it upon himself to do so.

Due to the incredible stability of the structure he was unable to do so.

He then contacted Mr Albert Minton, the Strong Man of Pelsall, to do it for him.

He too failed.

Some air raid shelters were built to accommodate more people.  Local school children at the time were housed in shelters which once existed next to Pelsall Labour Club on Church Road.  This area is now grassed over.

June Salt recalled the large air raid shelter they had near to Wilkes Foundry.  This underground air raid shelter as seen below had a large table in it, pictures on the wall and was filled with home comforts.

There was a similar structure to this near the Ryders Hayes estate

 

Sketch above courtesy of June Salt

The underground air raid shelter seen above still exists underground to this day!

Going back to the photograph of the Central Hall, this structure had what was called a blast wall made out of bricks at the front of it to protect it.

The siren on the wall can also be seen, this was the prompt to run for cover.

As far as I am aware, the only evidence left of bombing in Pelsall can be seen on the other side of the Wood Lane Bridge where a huge crater can easily be seen, it has always locally been known as the 'Bomb Hole'.

Following the tragedy of war there was much cause for celebration.

In 1918 V E day prompted a victorious march through Pelsall.

Following the Second World War a huge bonfire was constructed.

The size of this bonfire can really be appreciated below.

The V E Day Bonfire with Mrs Croome and Richard Croome

The Bonfire was held on the Church Road Common.  This extremely well attended event, must have been seen and heard for miles around.

If you would like to share your war time memories of Pelsall, I would be delighted to hear from you.