This is Debra Dixon's second contribution to Cradley Links. The first was about her whole family of Boxleys, Pearsons, Homers and Beales. This time she writes about just one member of her family, a great uncle David Boxley (1911-1942).
Debra has been writing down her memories as part of her family history research: "if I don't tell someone they will be forgotten".
My Great Uncle David Boxley born 1911 was one of 11 siblings: Hilda B1908, George B1909, David B1911, Minnie B1913, Charles (my granddad) B 1915, Martha B1920, Mary A. B1922, Frank B1924, Ada B1925, Dennis B1926 and Frances B1929, all born to George and Florence Boxley (née Jones). Two of the girls died as children.
They all lived at 28 Little Hill Cradley. As it stated in the census of 1911, it had only 2 rooms, this was a very small house but normal for its day and was to be home to 13 people over the years.
My granddad, Heber as he was known, but his dad always called him Jack for whatever reason, perhaps it was because there were so many. He used to tell me how they had two beds, the boys slept in one and the girls in the other top to tail.
It is hard for my generation and more so my children, to imagine living on top of one another like that, but still as children being happy. Today's children have everything, grandad used to say, but do' appreciate any of it. I think he was right.
Like so many families of this time they were to make sacrifices. When World War 2 came along, they were to lose loved ones and generations of people who were never to be born into these families, which in other circumstances they would have been.
Work and War
David Boxley was one such person to die and never grow old as his parents had intended. He was the 3rd child of Great Nan and Granddad Boxley and the 2nd son, born in 1911. He and my granddad Heber who was 4 years younger were close. Their sister Minnie who had been born in 1913 had died the same year.
By 1937 my granddad had married and left home, starting his family straight away, now living in Saltwells Road, Dudley Wood with wife Hetty and daughter Maureen B1937. They had another daughter my Auntie Brenda in September 1939 just as war broke out. Not only had he a family but he was in an industry which was important for the war effort, my granddad always said.
His brother David, however, was not married and joined the Worcestershire Regiment in the infantry section as Private 5248349, Boxley D., enlisted 1st September 1939.
My mum Maureen Boxley recalls how she remembers him calling to see his brother and family before he went off to war. This must not have been when he joined up, as she says he was in his uniform, it must have been after basic training and when he was deployed with his unit.
She remembers how he had a thick head of blond hair and he carried her all the way to Cradley Heath train station on his shoulders with his brother by his side. They were never to see him again.
When the War was imminent the Worcestershire's 1st Battalion was in Palestine and its war service was, therefore, destined initially to be in the middle East. Likewise the 2nd Battalion, who were in India in 1939 were destined to remain there until called to take part in the Burma Campaign in 1944. The two Territorial Battalions, the 7th and 8th, went to France in 1940 and both were in the Dunkirk tragedy.
David was sent with his unit to join the 2nd Battalion in India at the end of 1939 or the beginning of 1940. Diaries kept by the army state that his unit was training and expecting the Japanese to invade from the north of the country. He was 28 years old when he died 2nd September 1942. He is buried in the war cemetery in Madras India.
My understanding is that he died by drowning but I only know what my grandad told me. He also said that a couple of his brothers went to see his grave I assume before the war ended and they were the only ones to do so but they are no longer alive.
However, David has never been forgotten by his family, as for years since boys born into the Boxley family have been named David after him. My Uncle David born 1944 is one of the children who carry his name.
I only have one photograph of my great uncle David (above). It is I believe a picture which was taken in India not long before he died. His blond hair does stand out compared to the others in the photograph.
I am only sorry he never returned so that he could have got married and had a family and I could have known him. That is the sacrifice so many families had to make but they should never be forgotten.