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WW1 at Black Country Living Museum

Private William Adey

/media/ww1/library/140729_480_william_adey_and_son.jpgPrivate 8th (Service) Battalion

The South Staffordshire Regiment


Aged 39 in 1914

Occupation before the war: Locksmith

Pictured on the left with his son, William Alexander. 

Private William Adey saw action in France and Flanders. He served under Major R G Raper, who was lost on day 10 (of the Somme).

His first battle was the Battle of Bluff, not far from Ypres. He took part in the Somme, fought at Arras and although was wounded at least twice, he survived the war and returned home to Willenhall


Prior to World War One


/media/ww1/library/140801_230_140801_230_140729_230_adeywilliamfamily1915_low.jpgWilliam married Gertrude Illidge (born 1876 Willenhall), Sep 1899 in Willenhall. They had a son, William Alexander, b.1901 and a daughter: Gertrude Maria (known as Dolly), b.1903.

William was listed as a Locksmith prior to WW1.

/media/ww1/library/140804_230_adeys.jpgWhilst William was serving, his wife Gertrude was listed as a greengrocer at No.39 Lower Lichfield Street from 1916.

The story of William and Getrude Adey is retold every day in our replica of the greengrocer shop here at Black Country Living Museum.




The South Staffordshire Regiment

/media/ww1/library/140804_230_staffsreg.jpgWilliam Adey was a Private in the 8th (Service) Battalion; The South Staffordshire Regiment, was raised at Lichfield in September 1914 as part of Kitchener’s Second New Army (K2).  K2 was initially a second, all volunteer raised army.

Find out about the Battalion's movements from 1914 to 1918



The emotional impact of World War One

Family recollections tell us that:

During WW1 William came back home on leave for just one day, in full military uniform.  His wife, Gertrude, took the uniform to wash and delouse and he went to bed to sleep.  The story goes that he came downstairs as white as a sheet after having a bad dream.  He had dreamt that some young English lads (soldiers) had been kicking a German’s head around like a football. William objected to this and then one of the lads picked up the head and threw it at William.  William then woke up and thought he saw the dead, headless German at the foot of the bed asking where his head was.

 From family recollections William returned from the war as a different man.  He may have been suffering from shell shock or what we now call ‘post traumatic stress disorder’.

Also from family recollections William tried to enlist for World War 2, by now aged 64.

Our local hero William died c.1958, and will be remembered through his story at Black Country Living Museum and his headstone at Bentley Cemetery, Willenhall.


The story of William and Gertrude Adey

/media/ww1/library/140801_230_david.jpgThe story of William and Gertrude Adey will be shared at Black Country Living Museum in our replica of the Adey's greengrocers shop

Our costumed character is pictured here as William Adey.

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