Express & Star's front
page on Coronation Day, June 2, 1963
Coronation day was the proudest day in her life for Muriel
Bowen of Olbury. She was in charge of a detachment of women soldiers
of the Territorial Army on the coronation parade in London.
She served with the TA for 11 years and was later commissioned
as an officer, reaching the rank of captain.
But on Coronation day in 1953 she was an orderly sergeant, one
of only five TA members of the Women's Royal Army Corps to take
part in the parade.
"It was the first time the WRAC had ever worn their new green
uniform," she recalls with a smile. "So nobody knew who we were.
Someone came over and asked me if we were from the Canary Isles!"
Local boys freed by Koreans return to Britain: It was the
year of England's crowning glory on two fronts with the cornation
of the Queen and the conquering of Everest happening just a day apart.
However it was not all peace, goodwill and harmony in 1953 and
there are few years when there is not a war going on somewhere in
This year was no exception and, although our allies the Americans
were involved, the Korean War probably seemed a far away conflict
in a land about which we British knew nothing.
But some of our boys were fighting in that war and on May 1 around
20 of them from the Wolverhampton area who had been taken prisoner
were freed in a sick and wounded condition by their captors.
It was an emotional homecoming scene as the lads checked back
on to British soil when they landed at RAF Lyneham in Wiltshire.
The party of freed soldiers included Private Enoch Harland, aged
31, of Thornley Street, who flew home in a Hastings aircraft having
spent the previous night in Malta.
Pte Harland was met by his wife, his mother-in-law and brother-in-law
but he had to wait a little longer to be reunited with his children,
aged six and two.
He and other soldiers scoffed at some of the hard luck stories
that had featured in the Press in the days leading up to their release.
"We had very fair treatment indeed and I wonder where all these
hardship stories came from," one of the men was quoted as saying.
Trolley bus accidents double: The world was starting to
speed up but in the towns of Willenhall and Darlaston frantic 40mph
dashes by trolley buses were proving a headache for local road safety
The joint road safety committee for the two areas took up the
question with the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents
which revealed that legislation to limit speeds was expected in
a forthcoming government transport bill.
But Mr G S Whiting, organiser of the committee, pointed out that
trolley buses were not legally subject to the 30mph limit which
applied to buses.
"We must keep on hammering at the Ministry of Transport until
they will make a move in this matter," said committee chairman Councillor
J T Williams.
Accidents involving trolley buses had almost doubled over the
previous 12 months having gone up from 13 to 24.
And one of the members suggested that a reason for the increase
in speeds was to enable crews to enjoy a longer tea break at the
end of each run.
Readers agog at register row: A transatlantic tussle featuring
a church leader and a Wolverhampton mother-of-eight kept readers agog
during the spring of 1953.
At the centre of the row was an entry in the register of St Peter's
church which the rector of Wolverhampton, Canon Brierley, wanted
to sell to America. It marked the marriage of a Wolverhampton man
by the name of Button Gwinnett to Ann Bourn, a local grocer's daughter,
Gwinnett had emigrated to the States, became governor of Georgia,
witnessed the signing to of the American Declaration of Independence
and within less than a year had been killed in a duel.
Fast forward to 1953 and Canon Brierley is trying to sell the
signature in the parish register for between 15,000 and 20,000.
Attempting to resists his efforts is mother-of-eight Mrs G M Fennelly,
of Lea Road, Wolverhampton, widow of a descendant of the original
All her children had Button Gwinnett as part of their names and
she was determined to prevent what had happened six years before
when another signature of her ancestor by marriage had been sold
abroad for 5,000.
Sixth sense: A blind teenager from Dudley saved a Shropshire
castle from being burnt to the ground. Kenneth Cole, aged 19, of Wrens
Hill Road, Dudley, was able to detect by his other senses that Rowton
Castle, home of the Royal Normal College for the blind, was on fire.
He got up and groped his way along a passageway linking the dormitories
to raise the alarm.
Gifts for pensioners?
I noticed in Friday's papers that Smethwick residents aged 65 and
over will receive coronation souvenirs of canisters of tea - a very
Also, on other occasions I have noted that neighbourng towns and
are making gifts to old age pensioners.
It would be interesting to know whether Darlaston Council propose
to make a coronation gift to all old people in the town as I have
not yet seen anything in the Press on this subject.