“If you think, have a kindly thought, If you speak, speak generously, Of those who as heroes fought And died to keep you free”
Set up by the Black Country Society. Our aim is to highlight local men who died in the Great War and how they have been commemorated on war memorials. Its scope covers the whole of the present Dudley Municipal Borough and therefore includes the places which have come within its bounds since 1914.
There are over fifty memorials and the number of names exceeds three thousand. Research on the names has been extensive but inevitably errors and omissions occur. We would like to hear about them concentrated on life and work before 1914, involvement in military campaigns and where each man is buried or commemorated.
James Tolley attended Halesowen C of E school and volunteered for the Worcesters. He joined the 10th (Service) Battalion which served on the Western Front from 1915. They were sent to Artois and endured the winter of 1915-16 in trenches near Festubert. After re-training they were among those battalions marked for the first day of the Somme on the 1st July. After the first waves had made little progress the 10th were held until the 3rd July for the delivery of an assault on the village of La Boisselle and its neighbour, Ovillers. It was a daunting proposition but at heavy cost the German defenders of La Boisselle were cleared and Private Fred Turrall was awarded the Victoria Cross. Among the many killed on that day were five Halesowen men, all commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial. They included Private James Tolley who is also commemorated on the Halesowen and Halesowen C of E School Memorials.Search our Biographies