Our Century

Two bob from Crimean angel

Sergant MundyCannock's sole-surviving Crimean war veteran, ex-sergeant Mundy, aged 78, greeted the 1st West Yorkshire Regiment soldiers when they arrived at the entrance to the town's public rooms - their headquarters in June.

Mr Mundy, who was once able to help the legendary Florence Nightingale with a problem, told a Midland Counties Express reporter that in 1854 he joined the Buckinghamshire Regiment which was then called to the Crimea.

He described how they headed for the war-zone on the Princess Royal boat and after "many exciting incidents" managed a landing on shore. Mr Mundy said he "saw the most terrible of sights".

He said they ate salt junk and ship's biscuits and wore tattered clothes in the middle of winter.

He saw cannon balls crash into the trenches and bullets whizzed about. Disease also took its toll.

But Mr Mundy said he survived it all. He returned to Balaclava after peace was declared and had a personal meeting with the lady with the lamp.

Florence NightingaleMr Mundy recounted with relish the night he was on sentry duty at the local hospital when Florence Nightingale appeared and was startled to come across two Frenchman while walking on a nearby verandah.

She said to Mr Mundy: "Oh sentry do send these Frenchmen away." The veteran stepped forward, showed the Frenchmen his bayonet, and they soon disappeared.

Mr Mundy said that for that one little act, Florence Nightingale gave him a two shilling piece.

Birch for boot boy: At Walsall Guildhall a 14-year-old boy was ordered in April to be given six strokes of the birch for stealing a pair of boots.

The prosecution said the loser of the boots visited Walsall baths and discovered his boots missing after he took a shower.

He found another pair had been substituted. The court heard that a detective visited the defendant's home and found him wearing the stolen boots.

Major hits on a plan to ease horseflesh shortage:
Major mayall
A "momentous deficit of horseflesh"- particularly for military service - caused an outcry in the Midlands and other parts of the country in February.

The problem was raised at a meeting of the Brewood and District Agricultural Society where Major Mayall, Master of the Albrighton Hounds, mentioned the question of the horseflesh shortage.

Major Mayall said the establishment at the agricultural show of a class for brood mares with foals at foot would attract good prizes, and would probably remedy what looked like a horseflesh deficit.

The views of farmers were sought and an agricultural expert at Wolverhampton Corn Market said that farmers were breeding the class of horses which paid them.

They found a good market for carthorses, but were not encouraged by the Government, or anyone else, to go in for the lighter class of animal, he said.

The expert added that farmers found they did not get the lighter animals off their hands until they were five or six years old - and they were not happy about the prices they fetched either.

Black days as workers strike for more pay: The hardship and suffering created by a series of strikes for better pay across the Black Country in June prompted the Mayor of Wolverhampton to open a relief fund to ease the plight of strikers and their families.

Councillor T W Dickinson made an appeal for funds to afford relief to women and children lacking "the necessities of life."

In Walsall the strike committee felt the employers were "ashamed of the low wages they had paid." The committee heard that the Walsall strikers had remained loyal to their pledge and showed not the slightest signs of weakening.

The strike, involving the metal trades, was over a demand by workers for better pay.

But, it was reported, women and children were feeling the pinch keenly and the disputes were causing a lot of distress. A special conference in Birmingham involving the Midland Employers Federation and representatives of the Engineers and Allied Trades Societies, failed to break the deadlock.

Wolverhampton Trades Council put forward a suggestion that an appeal for help for the strikers should be made to members of different groups of workers.

To ease the hardship of families, men were sent out with collection boxes from Wednesbury to various big towns to raise funds. In Wednesbury market sixpenny pieces of fish were handed out to deserving cases.

The men were on strike for a "living wage" which they put at 23 shillings a week. They claimed that what they were being paid was "insufficient to sustain life adequately."

Fears over public health: Unsatisfactory housing and sanitary conditions at Coseley and Sedgley led the chairman of the public health committee to comment in May that he was "horrified".

He went on to say that it was abominable to allow such a state of affairs.

One of the problems highlighted was some condemned caravan dwellings on open space in Fountain Lane, Coseley.

It was described as "another example of occupied habitations condemned long ago by the Medical Officer of Health."

The two caravans which, together with two wooden huts, constituted a dwelling for a family of seven - the husband being a permanent resident who worked down a mine.

The medical officer said there was no water supply or any toilets.

"One usually associates caravan dwellers with the nomadic tribe, but the occupants of the novel abodes shown in our picture are residents of the district," he added.

It was felt the housing conditions in Coseley and Sedgley were unsatisfactory.

Railway blocked by derailment: Two goods train trucks were derailed and the line ploughed up in an accident on the London and North-Western railway line near Penkridge station in April.

It was thought that a waggon on the train - which came from Wolverhampton - failed to negotiate some points and left the rails, dragging another waggon with it.

Two lines were blocked and all the traffic on the Birmingham line had to be sent via Rugeley and Walsall.

Breakdown gangs spent several hours dealing with the emergency and the permanent way was ploughed up for a mile.

The parapet of the bridge over a river was also smashed. The driver was unaware of the smash and carried on with his journey until he was stopped by a signal.

Cliff Whitehouse
Something I've longed for every time I've been near civilisation. A pair of shoes.

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