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Memorial to John Henry Carless VC

A Grade II Listed Building in St Matthew's, Walsall

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Latitude: 52.5859 / 52°35'9"N

Longitude: -1.9791 / 1°58'44"W

OS Eastings: 401515

OS Northings: 298677

OS Grid: SP015986

Mapcode National: GBR 2F1.XX

Mapcode Global: WHBG1.K8TF

Entry Name: Memorial to John Henry Carless VC

Listing Date: 6 January 2015

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1423487

Location: Walsall, WS1

County: Walsall

Electoral Ward/Division: St Matthew's

Parish: Non Civil Parish

Built-Up Area: Walsall

Traditional County: Staffordshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): West Midlands

Church of England Parish: Walsall St Paul

Church of England Diocese: Lichfield

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Memorial to John Henry Carless V.C., erected in 1919 and sculpted by RJ Emerson of Wolverhampton.


Memorial to John Henry Carless V.C., erected in 1919 and sculpted by RJ Emerson of Wolverhampton.
MATERIALS: bronze bust and plaque mounted on a plinth of Portland stone.
PLAN: the bust is mounted on a rectangular plinth which tapers towards the top.
The eastern, street front has the shoulder-length bust to the top. This shows Able Seaman Carless face-on, looking slightly downwards and to the left. He is in naval uniform, with his Victoria Cross medal pinned to his chest, and his cap band reads 'HMS CALEDON'. Beneath the bust, the single word, 'VALOUR' is inscribed in a sunken panel on the stone plinth. Below this, on a ledge, is set a small statue of a recumbent lion in bronze. Below that, a bronze tablet bears an inscription which repeats the words of Carless' citation, as it was published in the London Gazette of 17 May 1918. 'JOHN HENRY CARLESS. V.C. / BORN AT WALSALL 11TH NOVEMBER 1896, / KILLED IN ACTION. HELIGOLAND / BIGHT 17TH NOVEMBER 1917. / AWARDED THE VICTORIA CROSS / FOR MOST CONSPICUOUS BRAVERY / AND DEVOTION TO DUTY. ALTHOUGH MORTALLY WOUNDED IN THE ABDOMEN / HE STILL WENT ON SERVING THE GUN / AT WHICH HE WAS ACTING AS RAMMER, / LIFTING A PROJECTILE AND HELPING / TO CLEAR AWAY THE OTHER CASUALTIES. / HE COLLAPSED ONCE, BUT GOT UP, / TRIED AGAIN AND CHEERED ON THE NEW / GUN'S CREW. HE THEN FELL AND DIED. / HE NOT ONLY SET A VERY INSPIRING / AND MEMORABLE EXAMPLE BUT HE / ALSO, WHILST MORTALLY WOUNDED, / CONTINUED TO DO EFFECTIVE WORK / AGAINST THE KING'S ENEMIES'. The plaque has a laurel wreath in high relief to the bottom and a dentilled cornice to the top. The deep base, which is not tapered, bears the words 'ERECTED BY THE / INHABITANTS OF / WALSALL 1919' carved into the stone. Below this there is a platform of two steps of Portland stone and a concrete step which rises from the pavement. The flanks and rear of the monument are blank, save for the portrait bust which is fully modelled to all sides.

This List entry has been amended to add sources for War Memorials Online and the War Memorials Register. These sources were not used in the compilation of this List entry but are added here as a guide for further reading, 17 January 2017.


Carless was born in 1896 in Tasker Street, Walsall. He died aged 21 years on 17 November 1917 in the second battle of Heligoland Bight, Germany. Serving one of his ship's guns as a rammer, despite a mortal wound he continued in action as best he could, and encouraged others. He was buried at sea the following day. His Victoria Cross was awarded by George V in June 1918.
The memorial was paid for by the public of Walsall and was unveiled on 20th February 1920 by Admiral Sir Walter Cowan, whose flagship had been the HMS Caledon, on which Seaman Carless was serving at the time of his death. The admiral presented the ship's white ensign to the mayor of Walsall at the ceremony.

Reasons for Listing

The Memorial to John Henry Carless VC, Lichfield Street, Walsall is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Artistic Quality: the monument has considerable power and is a finely judged and well executed design;
* Historic interest: as an eloquent witness, via the focus on one particular individual, to the tragic impacts of world events on this community, and the sacrifices it made in the conflicts of the C20;
* Group Value: it groups well with the Town Hall building (Grade II) and the Central Borough Library.

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