AERIAL WARFARE OVER QUINTON
Most QLHS members will be aware by now of the aerial battle in the skies over Quinton, early on the 10th April 1941. Flight Lt. E C Deansley in his Boulton Paul Defiant intercepted a German raid on Birmingham and a Heinkel III bomber was shot down. It careered away to the south, snagged a barrage balloon wire over Wythall and finally crashed near the “Two Brewers” public house in Smethwick, killing several civilians and two of the four crew.
Peter Kennedy (once of the Smethwick History Society) and I have spent many years trying to trace the surviving combatants. Peter, who did most of the groundwork, eventually found Deansley, retired and living in Edgbaston. Before Deansley died, in February 1998, Peter was able to record an interview with him. His gunner, a man named Scott, has yet to be traced. Just as elusive were the surviving members of the Luftwaffe crew. Earlier this year, we tried one last throw of the dice and recruited Gisela Stuart, MP to the cause. In turn, the German Embassy got involved and the Air Attaché, Colonel Hasso Kortge traced the pilot, Feldwebel Rudolf Muller, now in his eighties and asked if he would accept a letter from us. He responded warmly to the suggestion and we received his reply, written in German, on 8th June 2001.
Needless to say, we were extremely elated to receive this letter (the first of several we hope) and its fascinating contents. As it includes nuggets of information as yet unpublished, here is a passage from the letter for you to read: -
Thank you for your letter dated 24-6-2001. Your details about my crash in Birmingham are true.
The manoeuvre and the bombardment from Birmingham were on 10-4-2001 in the early morning hours. The British fighter, which came as real surprise, and the machine gunfire, damaged our plane so much that both engines failed. In addition, we also hit the cable of a balloon and had to abandon the plane.
My observer, Werner Straecker, was wounded through a gunshot in his leg, but he got out. Egon Grolig and Helmut Haecke were hit in the plane and did not survive.
After many different stages of interrogation, I got into the prison camp in Manchester. End of 1941 all prisoners were transported to Canada. Werner Straecker and I were together there.
Due to circumstances at the end of the war, the separation of Germany and the abolishment of the “Streitkraefte” (German Army) made it quite impossible to go on with the soldier’s friendship.
Waerner Straeker lived in Ohlau/Schlesien, which is now in Poland. No one could so far find him.
I hope you can use my descriptions in any way and will be happy to stay in contact. I would also like you to get in contact with the Local History Society and to thank them in my name for their letter and photos of 17-7-2001. If you have any further questions would be very happy to help you.
My thanks to our good friend and historian, A N Rosser, for the above script. Tony under the banner of the QLHS is carrying out further research with a view to possibly bringing Herr Muller over from Germany. The idea is to cement Anglo/German relations and maybe to unearth important information as yet unpublished. Watch this space for future developments.
I'm perhaps not the oldest Quintonian at 34, but I spent my first 15 years of life at no.45 White Road (I subsequently moved to Edgbaston, Oldbury, and now Rednal)
My father had a model shop on Hagley Road West - I think it was no.280, the 'top end' anyway, called Hobby Spot. After a few years, around 1978, he relocated to the Holly Bush next door to Boots as it was then. Sadly, the economic climate back in the early eighties took it's toll and Dad had to shut the business.
Before his shop however, he was general manager of the Top Rank Bowl at Warley, and I can just about recall Dad showing me all the big machinery at the back where the fallen skittles were collected and 'recycled'. I must have only been about 3. I do remember when the building was demolished and the Albright & Wilson offices replaced it (I think around 1974)
Does anyone remember Tom Dallaway the fishmonger on the corner of White Road and Hagley Rd West? He fascinated me as a kid. The way he could 'strip and gut' a fresh chicken in less than 10 seconds was amazing, although a little gruesome. The tins of pressed cod roe neatly stacked in one of the windows, and all the fish on that big white slab, open to the passing shoppers. No way allowed today I guess with all these hygiene laws. And that smell...there's a memory to savour!
I can also remember the general store which was situated right at the other end of the shop row, next to the angling shop, down the hill towards Holly Bush Grove. I think it was called Winnies. Nice lady. Some mates and I would go collecting pop bottles, like the Corona ones, just so we could take them to Winnies and get 2 pence back for each one. We would then buy a quarter of 'rocks' which Winnie would dispense from one of her many sweet jars stacked in rows behind the counter.
I also recall Mick's Cafe, Fardons Butchers and the barber next door where Mum would send me for a short back and sides, feathered on top and cost 50 pence. Then the hardware/ironmongers (I can't remeber the name) and finally the bakery on the corner where we used to get our bread. I recall there were 2 old dears who worked the counter; cutting large slices of tri-colour sponge from a massive square cake and likewise with the cheddar cheese, then wrapping it all up in grease proof paper.
I could go on...maybe I'll do a part two sometime. By the way, the Images of Quinton is brilliant. Well done.
Well I'm glad you enjoyed the trip down my memory lane. I actually looked up the QLHS site and picked up on the emails and letters folks have sent you; that's what inspired me to write to you. Some of those letters are amazing.
It's hard to believe there are actually people who are still around (for want of a better phrase!) and remember Quinton when most of it was still farmland. My earliest recollections seem quite recent by comparison. Heck, I can only just about recall the Hagley Rd West being widened to a dual carriageway from Balden Road to Bearwood Kings Head; and that was ooh, way back in 1972 - wow!
I've just had another browse and noticed one of the letters, from Mary Webb mentions Burrs the Chemist, which was owned by her father until 1983. I remember him well, as he was our local chemist, a couple of doors from Tom Dallaway funny enough, and next to the wedding photography shop. My mum used to send me there every Saturday for her can of ozone destroying hair spray and boxes of tissues. His counter was stacked to the hilt with all manner of little boxes and tins of lozenges and medicated gum sweets. It was quite a small shop, but Mr Burr seemed to stock everything. My recollection of him was that he was quite tall but slim, and wore glasses. Perhaps he seemed tall because I was quite small, but that's how I remember him. Oh and he wore a white doctors coat too.
Well anyway, I will do a part two as requested.
Regarding your request for shops from in around the Hollybush and Quinton. I remember that Lloyds chemist was “Billington’s” and before that “Boots”, the “Kentucky fried chicken shop” was once “Oakleys”, a toy shop. The newsagents was called “Hughes” until about 1976, there used to be a value shop selling children’s wear and ladies underwear, I believe where the Oxfam shop is now and for years there was a gas showroom there and the phone shop on the corner was the MEB Showrooms. Near where the Asian restaurant is now was “Letts” the greengrocer. Also in the block was a “Maypole” or a “Wrensons”, where the housing association is stood George Mason’s/International, also there was “Woolworths” where the video shop is now. Just up the road towards Perry Hill Road was Smith’s, hardware shop/timber yard. The shops between Smiths and the garage included “Purcell”, newsagent and “Staits”, shoe repairers.
Shops between Clydesdale Road and Wilmington were “Haynes” the butchers, then a ladies hairdresser, who I believe was called “Betty”, next door was a greengrocer called “Pipers” then the barbers, “Coleman’s”.
Before Ridgacre Methodist Church was built there, was a Sunday school held in Woodhouse Road School until it moved to the church. The Sunday school superintendent was Mr Green.
Founded there was the 68th Girls Brigade Company, its captain was a Miss Green and another leader was Miss Perks. The cadet members wore navy surge uniforms with a sailor collar and a red belt with a “pancake “ hat. Such uniforms were worn for the funeral of King George VI.
I can also remember a lady who lived in the houses where the “Golden Cup” stands and where the garage used to be. Her name was Miss Bourne and she used to give piano lessons and held a scripture union group for children. In the garden was a tennis court and the children attending the group had a “knock up”.
I hope you can make use of these scribbled notes and they have shed a little light on Quinton’s past.
Ed’s comment - Thank you Lynn for the above, can anyone else fill in the gaps?
I was given the address of the Quinton Local History website by an old Birmingham friend and we were both amazed to see your address is that of the house next to ours during the 50's to the early 1980's.
We moved to Quinton in about October 1951 to 17 Worlds End Avenue, when I was almost 5 years old. My father had taken over the chemist shop on Hagley Road then called, “ Stutelys” the Chemist.
The house still had the old gasfires and (I think) the parts for gas lights (I may be wrong on this!) The garden was very overgrown with 3 yew trees about 2 yards from the back of the house and tall privet hedges with rambling roses and flowering current bushes at the front. We used to find hundreds of bits of old white clay pipes (for smoking).
Worlds End Avenue had tall poplar trees lining the grass verges. We used to play marbles, skipping, ball and chasing games in the road, as there was very little traffic. I can remember horse drawn milk floats and rag and bone carts. There was a fancy dress party for the Coronation and my brother John won the boys prize. We had tea at a school at the bottom of Worlds End Lane, as the weather was too bad for a street party.
Families I can remember were Facey, Cox, Boardman, Katten or Catten, Denham. At 19 Worlds End Avenue was an old couple from Austria who were Jewish refugees and who took me to the ballet!
We used to go to Watery Lane for walks, as well as the canal, leading to the Lapal Tunnel. I can remember going to Warley Woods where I am sure we saw a red squirrel. I can also remember fields at the Holly Bush and old cottages before the shops were built. I think Woolworths at the far end was later - was this in a bomb crater?
After a short while, I used to walk to school, which was St Huberts on the Wolverhampton Road. There was also a bus, which went down Worlds End Lane from Smethwick I think.
My parents remained there until about 1983 when the shop - Burr's the Chemist - was sold and they retired to Leominster.
Sorry this is so bitty - I was very young so it's hard to put it together. I left in 1968 and only come back to the city, not really to Quinton.
Hope this is of some use - if you have any specific questions I will try to answer - my father might be able to help as well.
Mary Webb, (nee Burr)
Ed’s comment- The Burrs were in fact our next door neighbours when we moved in 1975, this internet proves it is certainly a very small world
Can you tell me anything of St. Kenelm? I believe that there is a chapel at Clent, dedicated to him. Clent, I half remember as a wide street village given over to fairs and vacations. I believe we went there once, getting off the Midland Red-bus, opposite what might have been a station where horses could be switched for stagecoaches. We walked toward Clent across parkland seeing there a deer.
Further on towards Hagley, there was a gentleman’s park, embellished with those features, - obelisks, temples - which were fashionable in the Georgian period. Had "The Leasowes" used to be in this category?
Sometimes we used to be brought out to Bell End, where there was a pub, and on to Belbroughton, with its picturesque stream and tea gardens.
Would you have a map, which would help me to get my bearings from the sketch map showing the views of old Quinton, in relation to Bourne College?
Geoffrey Johnson, Dublin
Ed’s Comment-Can anyone help Geoffrey? If so contact me and I will pass the details on.