The Lady on Pelsall's Cenotaph

Dorothy Elizabeth Davies

Dorothy Elizabeth Davies

Photograph courtesy of Mr A Weller - Pelsall History Centre

Dorothy Elizabeth Davies was born in Station Road, Pelsall on 5th May 1905, one of six children to parents Joseph, a mechanic and Sarah Jane, a housewife.

After the death of her parents Dorothy decided to join the Red Cross, being posted to Little Wyrley Hall, then a military hospital, as a General Service Nurse (Auxillary Nurse).

As the hospital began filling with wounded servicemen from all over Europe, Dorothy was asked if she would consider living in; her acceptance meant that she would be on call twenty four hours a day, seven days a week.  Dorothy accepted and thrived on this and gained the trust and respect of both staff and patients.

As patients health improved, they were taken out on visits to the surrounding towns, cinemas and concerts.

On Wednesday 23rd April 1942, Dorothy met with a senior staff member and it was decided to drive six servicemen by army ambulance to a concert evening at Kingstanding: Dorothy was to accompany the driver, Lady Brenda Hickman.

While the ambulance was crossing a road junction close to the Old Horns Public House on the Queslett Road, Great Barr, it collided with an army truck.  

The petrol tank on Dorothy's ambulance exploded and the vehicle burst into flames; civilians and soldiers nearby managed to extricate everyone from the ambulance except for Dorothy whose legs were trapped.  After several attempts at rescue, the heat became so intense that sadly, Dorothy could not be saved.

On the day of her funeral, the streets of Pelsall were lined with hundreds of people paying their respects.  The hearse was followed by family and friends while staff and patients from the hospital were present at the graveside.

According to relatives and other villagers, Dorothy received an unofficial five or seven gun salute at her graveside by soldiers from nearby barracks.

In 1976, Cllr Bill Clayton and his wife Edna were visiting Walsall Town Hall when Edna noticed a plaque inscribed with Walsall Servicemen's names.

At this point there were no names on Pelsall's War Memorial.

On their return to Pelsall, an appeal was launched via the Walsall Observer asking for names to be put forward to be included on Pelsall's War Memorial.

Shortly before the names were due to be put on the cenotaph, Mrs Clayton was approached by Miss Davies, who asked if her sister, Dorothy Elizabeth Davies could be included.  After hearing the story, Dorothy was added to the list.

On Remembrance Sunday 1976, the whole village turned out to see the unveiling of the new plaque containing 19 Second World War names, including that of Dorothy Elizabeth Davies.

Dorothy is seen above wearing a white dress standing outside her home in Station Road

Photograph courtesy of Mr A Weller - Pelsall History Centre