Christmas 1916. Percy and Kate Warren receive news that their son, William Edward Warren, has been wounded in action and is in hospital in France. Determined to visit his son, who served in the Gloucesters, Percy sets out from his Hill Street, Brierley Hill home and arrives in France in December.
At the military hospital Percy finds his son in a serious condition. He has suffered multiple wounds in his thigh, his back and his body. So bad are Pt Warren’s wounds that this is to be the last visit he receives.
On 28th December Pte Warren dies.
Back at home in Brierley Hill he is mourned. Pte Warren had been a star student at the local Art School and the local Higher Education Committee meet in their Moor Street premises to discuss what can be done to commemorate his life.
They decide to take one of his creations, a pen and ink drawing and have it framed and inscribed. In June 1917 the “splendid work” was hung in the art room. The local paper reported:
Brierley Hill Art School will be permanently enriched by the suspension on its walls of the pen and ink drawing executed by the late Private W. Warren, a student of exceptional promise. It was this gallant soldier’s last art effort, and has been suitably framed by direction of the Higher Education Committee.
County Express 23rd June 1917
Now, 97 years after the painting was gifted to the Art School and on the centenary of the start of World War 1 the work of art lies in the bottom draw of the maps cabinet in Brierley Hill library. It is torn and forgotten. It is at risk of disappearing altogether.
One painting has already been lost. Surely this unique work of art which has such a tale attached should be put somewhere safe where the public can view it and where it can be appreciated properly.