A report by Dave Galley
Because of the opening hours at the Cemetery this had to be an afternoon walk led by Quintin Watt. Quintin described it as a joint meeting as there were a number of members from the Wolverhampton western front association joining us. Afternoon visits are nothing new to the Black Country society though it has been some years since we have had one. Anyone remember Joan White and Linda Button’s visits?
Having never been to Merridale cemetery before I cannot pinpoint where we started but Quint knew who to start with, George Richards a 22 year old ambulance driver in the Royal Army Medical Corp. I do intend to give more details of the lives and subsequent deaths in an article for the magazine.
Any road up we then worked our way back towards the entrance searching out other graves along the way. We then made our way down a steep drive and turning left across undulating ground. At each grave we viewed Quint had stories to tell, some from newspaper cuttings of the time of the funerals. It became obvious that illness caused many of the deaths, Spanish Flu, TB, and the results caused by being gassed at some time. One grave which was not a Commonwealth war grave was a family grave with the name of their son William Steen Whittle who was killed in action in Flanders in 1915.Quint’s tour concluded with us seeing the grave of Staff Nurse S.M.C. Smith Of the Imperial Military Nursing Corp. The only female casualty of war in the Cemetery. Like so many of the others her death was caused by illness - in her case it was diabetes.
So ended another Black Country Society walk, not too much rain and traffic wise not too bad a journey home