Wolverhampton Archives

Wolverhampton Archives
Richard & Dr Nicola Gauld
On 24th February we met with Nicola and Gillian Roberts the city archivist at the archives of Wolverhampton based at the 18th Century Molineux Hotel, a grade II* listed building that houses the collection.
Nicola has selected some letters from the file of a fitter from Wolverhampton called Jesse Hill, who became an infantryman with the South Wales Borderers. He was killed on active duty in 1917. We read letters from him to his children Harold and Jesse, and to his wife Maggie. We also read the bereavement letter from Jesse's NCO, a Sergeant Noble, who wrote to Maggie whilst wounded to tell her of Jesse's death. Maggie's reply asked whether Jesse 'was killed outright or wether (sic) he lived only for a few moments to enable him to say a few words about his home and family'.

The letter was returned to Maggie, which suggests that she never received an answer. There was also a copy of Jesse's soldier's 'small book', issued as guidance to all soldiers. It was shocking to see the entry and exit of a bullet or shrapnel, which had tore through the centre of the book. This may have been the lethal blow for Jesse. 

Jesse Hill, 1885 - 1917
We look forward to honouring his memory when we introduce his story to the students. It is one thing reading a book, seeing images and watching films, it it quite another to hold real letters, photos and documents that were the personal possessions and thoughts and feelings of a man and his family that were devastated by the 'war to end all wars'.

You can read Nicola's moving post on the People's Heritage Co-operative website blog here:

Matt Hinks