Category Archives: Roll of Honour

This Roll of Honour records the stories of Tearle men and women who died in war.

28May/16

Horace Tearle 1892, Leeds, Yorkshire, UK (Yorks Hussars)

There really is a parish called Wortley-de-Leeds, and it was in St John the Evangelist Church of that parish, little Horace Tearle was baptised on 5 June 1892. The fear of babies dying drove Victorian parents to the the church as soon after their baby’s birth as possible. The church records show Horace was born on 28 April 1892. That is how anxious they were.

Horace Tearle 1892 baptism Wortley Leeds

At the time of Horace’s Christening, William 1859 was a miner in Fromeside, Wortley, Leeds.

To put this family in context, William Tearle 1859 of Bramley, Leeds, married Annie Lee Lavers on 21 October 1882 in Wortley, Leeds. His parents were George Tearle 1825 of Leighton Buzzard and Maria nee Franklin. George and Maria’s first child, Julia, was born in Leighton Buzzard. Their next two children, James 1852 and Edward 1855 were born in Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire, and this James married Mary Abigail Ryder in Bramley, Leeds in 1875 and then emigrated to Australia in 1883. George and Maria moved to Leeds in about 1856, and the rest of their family – George 1857, William 1859, Elizabeth 1862 and Harry 1864 were all born in Leeds. George’s parents were Joseph Tearle 1803 and Mary Ann nee Smith. This is the family who moved from Leighton Buzzard to Preston and started the Preston Tearles. As you can see, George did not follow them to Preston, Lancashire; he went to Leeds, in Yorkshire. Charles 1894 of Preston and Horace 1892 are second cousins. The parents of Joseph Tearle 1803 were Richard Tearle 1778 of Stanbridge and Mary nee Pestel, and Richard’s parents were Joseph 1737 and Phoebe nee Capp. Thus, Horace is on the branch of Joseph 1737.

In the 1800s we were living in the grip of the Industrial Revolution, where some families made vast fortunes, whilst their factories blew contamination into the air, poured pollution and poison into the rivers, and allowed their workers’ conditions to be little better than slaves. No wonder their babies died. It was also a time of upheaval and mass migration. As mechanisation modernised farming, and fewer labourers were needed, so the farming life became untenable when people could no longer make a living from the land.

George and Maria moved North. William became a miner; here is his marriage:

William Tearle Annie Lee Lavers marriage 1882 Wortley Leeds -1

It is a poignant reminder of the life they left behind; far from rural Bedfordshire, William was a miner, and George, who had been an Agricultural Labourer, was now a “labourer in a brick works.” Annie, the local lass, cannot write, but William signs in a beautiful copperplate hand and one of the witnesses is his brother James’ wife, Mary Abigail nee Ryder. Within a year, they would be in Australia.

1901 William 1860 Leeds Annie 40 James 15 Maud 13 Annie 11 Horace 8 Wilfred 5 Laura 3 Edmund 11m in Potter Newton Yorks -1

The 1901 census, above, notes that William is a coal miner, and son James is working in a wool factory. You will have noticed that William and Annie’s first child was called James, no doubt after William’s favoured elder brother. Horace is eight years old.

1911 William 1860 Leeds Annie 50 James 25 Annice 21 Horace 18 Wilfred 15 Laura 13 Edmund 10 George Henry 8 Clifford 5 in Leeds -1

The 1911 census tells us (as usual) quite a lot more. But amongst all the data, William, James and Horace are “Below ground” miners. Unfortunately, William and James do not tell us their exact roles in the mine, but Horace does. He is a “hurrier.” His role was to pull heavy carts of coal along the underground pathways to exits where the cart would be winched to the surface. The hurrier was tied to the cart with a heavy chain, and usually, at the other end of the cart, there would be a girl who was the “thruster,” pushing the cart with her hands and forehead, usually while kneeling. She would lose her hair over time due to the pressure of the cart on her head. Fortunately, Annice and Wilfred are in cloth-making factories, rather than the dreadful life girls had underground. Still, working in a factory was a job of long hours, low pay and awful working conditions. It is nice to see that all the younger children are at school, because in the 1840s children as young as five years old were working underground, in mines. Also in this picture of 1911 is Horace’s immediately younger brother Wilfred Tearle 1896 of Bramley, Leeds. He would share Horace’s story.

Goodness knows what drew Horace into The Great War, perhaps getting out from under ground to help in the developing adventure in Europe might have been a pull, or he was volunteering before he was conscripted? For whatever reason, Horace signed up on 4 Oct 1915 (the day he attested for “4 years service in the United Kingdom”) a full five months before conscription was enforced in March 1916. He was given the number 3398 and was inducted into the 3/1 Yorkshire Hussars. He was 23 years old, 5ft 6in tall, he had good vision and good physical development. He was kept on “Home” duties, meaning anywhere in the UK including Ireland, and during that time he married Annie Elizabeth Peat, on 3 June 1916. Married life came to an abrupt halt on 10 Nov 1916 when he boarded a ship in Liverpool, bound for Greece, which arrived in Salonica on the 21st. He was in the MEF, the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force. Fortunately he was a few months too late to join the action in Gallipoli, but he would have been told that his role was in warfare over Greece, the Balkans and Turkey.

I have one document that tells a great deal about how the war treated Horace. Here it is:

Horace Tearle 3393 and 643197 and 76203 WW1 army service record p8

Firstly, you can see that he has learned another skill; he is a mechanic. In a later document he is referred to as an engineer. Perhaps when he gets back home, he may not have to be a miner. On 3 Aug 1917, Horace was driven to a field hospital with an unknown condition. On the 4th, he had an extremely high temperature, and on the 12th he was diagnosed with malaria. His life had now changed forever; you do not recover from malaria, you simply get used to coping with it. In November he is returned to his unit. On the page after this one, there is a stern order stamped on his card:

“Malaria case – Not Available for a Theatre of War where MALARIA is Prevalent.”

The fact that the order is stamped on his record shows us that this was a common event. He was posted to other units – the Royal Dragoons and the Derby Yeomanry, but he was moved on – somehow he did not fit their needs. He was finally transferred to the Labour Corps. When he was well he could work, and when he was having a malaria “turn” he could rest. On 2 Nov 1918, he joined “A” Company, the Labour Corps. He would be used to move goods and clean up after the war. Armistice day arrived on 11 November 1918, and Horace’s service was reviewed. He had enlisted on 4 Nov 1915, been in the MEF from 10 Nov 1916 to 10 Jun 1918 and then on “Home” duties until 7 Nov 1918, a total of 3 years and 35 days. During that time, Horace was transferred to Aldershot Barracks, in Hampshire. In August 1918, with too much time on his hands, Horace got into a drunken state and overstayed his leave by almost half a day. He was loudly admonished, and given three days confined to barracks as a punishment, and probably sent on parade-ground cleaning duties. It was the only blemish on his military record.

On 7 Nov 1918, Horace was transferred to soldier class “P”. He was now the reserves, he could go home, but he might also be called up at any time until his four years was up. To all intents and purposes, he was free.

Horace Tearle 76203, 643197 WW1 army medal Rolls -1

Here is his medal card, which shows that the Labour Corps (his last unit) had gathered sufficient information to award him two service medals – the Victory Medal and the British Medal. In 1922, Horace signed for the receipt of his medals. With his malaria always threatening, and boiling over at times, it must have been difficult for him to accept that this is all he got for the pain he would endure for the rest of his life.

I know very little about what happened next, except that he and Annie had a girl, Joan, in 1920, and that Horace died in 1929, just 36 years old. Malaria still kills millions of people each year, and Horace’s fight with it in the 1920’s would have been difficult, and often very painful and debilitating. It is a very sad end for a man who had hoped for so much more.

22May/16

Harry Edward Tearle 1900, Leighton Buzzard, UK (RN)

From the address in National Roll of the Great War, we can tell that Harry is the younger brother of Ernest John Tearle 1898, of the Bedfordshire Regiment. There are 17 Tearle men in National Roll, and Harry is the only Navy Tearle to have a piece written about him. Here is his entry:

Tearle Harry Edward RN National Roll

Since he was born in 1900, Harry would have been only 14 when the war broke out, so it is not surprising to see him join in 1918.

Here is his service record – it does not seem complete because he appears to have joined in 1919 for 5 years plus 7 years, and the record stops in 1922. Also, National Roll says that he joined in 1918, but there is no sign of that here. You can see clearly his service number: SS 119522

Harry Edward Tearle RN record

However, it does tell us a couple of things we did not know. Firstly, he joined after the war was over, so he was not eligible for a war gratuity, but he did qualify for a £20 bonus, and the HMS Repluse was his last posting, which ended on 8 June 1922. Before we look at the Repulse, I must say that Harry would have been hugely impressed by the HMS Emperor of India. She was a mighty beast, a battleship, and some called her a super dreadnought. She was a flagship on various occasions, but she missed the Battle of Jutland. I have not found a serious battle where she was engaged, and she came to (I think) an ignominious end as a target vessel for training purposes and then raised from the seabed to be scrapped.

The HMS Repulse, laid down in 1916, is the same HMS Repulse that was destroyed with the HMS Prince of Wales at the Battle for Singapore during WW2.

Make what you can of the document below, but it is important because it shows the medals that Harry won for Royal Navy service. I think they can be interpreted as follows:

ST = 1914-15 Star

V = Victory Medal

B = British War Medal

These are the same medals awarded to all the other services.

Harry Edward Tearle Royal Navy WW1 Medals

The man immediately above Harry in this list is Edward Tearle 1892 of Bramley, Leeds, in Yorkshire. He must have joined the navy very early in WW1 to be awarded the Star.

I am afraid I am at the end of my knowledge of Harry’s life and times. It would appear that he did not marry, and we know he died in Brent near London in 1979, nearly eighty years old.

The ancestry details I have written for Ernest John Tearle 1898 are the same for Harry Edward. He is on the branch of John 1741.

02May/16

Ernest John Tearle 1898 Leighton Buzzard (1/Beds Regt)

 

Ernest John Tearle 1898, of Leighton Buzzard, was called up for service in the Bedfordshire Regiment on 20 Nov 1916, having enlisted in March that year. He joined the 3rd Battalion on a D.W. engagement, meaning he would be in the army for the duration of the war. He was 18 years 4 months old, 5 feet 6in tall, with only “fair” physical development, and he was a labourer. Here is his entry in National Roll of the Great War.

 

Tearle Ernest John Pte National Roll

 

This is a very good potted war biography, but I do not want to hide the seriousness of Ernest’s survival problems. The battles above were killing fields on a vast scale – just look at the names – and Ernest surviving all of this must have been very rueful about being gassed in the last month. Here is the evidence that he scraped through the war:

Ernest Tearle 44700 WW1 army service record p2.

Ernest Tearle 44700 WW1 army service record.

You can see the number change, he was transferred to the Suffolk Regiment, I think mostly for administrative reasons, and they reviewed all his records, because it was the last regiment a soldier belonged to that determined the service medals that he would earn.

There was a little compassion, though. Armistice Day was 11 November 1918, but Ernest was still in France, probably helping to clean up the mess, when he applied for, and was granted leave to England. It was from 28 April 1919 until 12 May 1919. You would wonder how the ferry and the trains would get him there and back in such a short time. Finally, on 19 November 1919, fully a year after the Armistice, Ernest was allowed home – as a Class “Z” soldier. In other words if the army wanted him for anything, they were at their liberty to demand it of him. On 30 November 1919, he left France, hugely relieved, no doubt, that the war was over, and he had survived it. He would also have been relieved to remember that his brother, Harry Edward Tearle 1900, who had joined the navy, had also kept his head down and stayed alive.

His life after the war is difficult to trace. I can find no conclusive evidence he was ever married; a marriage of Ernest J Tearle to Thelma J Cole in 1953 may be our Ernest, but is very late in life, and would most likely preclude his having any children. Meanwhile, the marriage in 1926 of Ernest Tearle in Wellingborough to Ada E E Clifton was preceded by the birth, in Wellingborough, of Ernest Tearle in 1897, so this chap is not the object of our National Roll study.

We do know that he died in Luton in 1971, but I can find no trace of his will, or his probate, which may have helped to fill in a few of the details of his post-war life.

It’s my responsibility, now, to record his biographical details:

He was baptised in St Andrews Church, Leighton Buzzard, on 24 June 1912, having been born on 21 June 1898, at 12 Chapel Path Leighton Buzzard, the son of Ellen Tearle 1881 of Hockliffe. Ellen had four children all with the surname Tearle, and then in 1913 she married Harry Toms, followed by two Toms children. She was the eldest daughter of Jane Tearle 1856 of Hockliffe, who had four children in Hockliffe between 1881 and 1887. Her youngest son, Albert Tearle 1887 of Hockliffe, who would be Ernest’s uncle, was in the Royal Engineers during WW1. Jane’s parents were John Tearle 1823 of Stanbridge and Hannah nee Creamer. We cannot tell what John did for a living; he was classified as an Ag Lab in his census returns, while Hannah worked industriously as a straw plaiter. No matter how skilled John’s work was, the fact that he worked on farms, or for farmers, meant that he was simply an agricultural labourer.

John’s parents were Thomas Tearle 1792 of Ivinghoe Aston, just over the border in Buckinghamshire, and Jemima Cleaver. Thomas’ parents were John Tearle 1770 of Stanbridge and Mary nee Janes, and this John’s parents were John 1741 and Martha nee Archer. So our Ernest is on the branch of John 1741, the same as me.

02May/16

Edward George Tearle 1896, Hemel Hempstead, UK (Labour Corps)

It is not very often, in the 20th Century, that a man and his son go to the same war, but for Edward Joseph Tearle 1874 of Watford, and his son, Edward George Tearle 1898, that is exactly what happened. I shall start with the entry in National Roll of the Great War:

Tearle Edward George National Roll

Edward George is a little bit lucky. The phrasing of the middle sentence exaggerates his importance a little bit, and “frequently in forward areas” means he was not very often in the line of fire. It is true, though, that Labour Corps men were used for replacement battalions, and often Labour Corps units were kept within the range of artillery for long periods. So we are not to downplay the danger, nor the effect that artillery, and the stench of death and disease would have on a twenty-year old fresh from the rural quietness of early Hemel Hempstead.

In the 1911 census he is living with his family in Watford, and although at 13 years old is still at school, he has an after-school job as an errand boy. At the outbreak of war, he was only 16 years old, so he would not be eligible to go to war until he was at least 18 years old. When he did so, his occupation was Cocoa Presser, he was 5feet 11in tall (which was tall for those times) and 20years 4months old, with a scar on his left knee; and he did not want to go into the navy. He enlisted on 2 March 1916, and he was called up on 19 June 1918. The war still had five months to rage, and a lot of men died in that time. On Armistice Day alone 11,000 soldiers perished, more than were killed on D-Day in WW2.

When he was eventually called up, the medics pronounced him fit for training, in spite of “an old fracture of the right elbow. Very deficient action of right forearm.” He was posted to the BEF (France) and moved three times to different Labour Corps groups. It is not possible to say where he was or what he was doing at any time, but on 18 Oct 1919, he signed a form to say “I do not claim to be suffering from a disability due to my military service.” And that is the end of Edward’s military experience. Here is the sheet that tells you where and when he went; to me it is completely obscure:

Edward George 643043 WW1 army service record p8

Edward George 643043 WW1 army service record p8

In 1921, he married Nellie Elizabeth Boultwood in Watford and there would appear to be only one child from this marriage; Donald Edward Tearle 1922, born in Watford.

Edward George died in Watford in 1948 aged only 50. I think we will always wonder if the war was even partly responsible for this. Here is the notice of the probate of his will:

Edward George Tearle National Probate 1948

Edward George Tearle, National Probate 1948

Edward’s ancestry information are the same as for his father, Edward Joseph Tearle 1874 of Watford.

02May/16

Sidney Thomas Tearle 1893, Willesden, UK (RASC)

Sidney Thomas Tearle was born to Zephaniah Tearle and Annie nee Buckingham on 7 March 1893 in Stonebridge, Willesden, London, and he was baptised a few weeks later. Because infant mortality rates were very high, particularly in London, parents wasted no time in getting their babies baptised. Helpfully for us, the minister has written Sidney’s birth date in the margin.

Sidney Thomas baptism in St Michael and All Angels, Stonebridge 1893

Sidney Thomas baptism in St Michael and All Angels, Stonebridge 1893

The genealogical details you need to know are that Zephaniah 1869 of Stanbridge was the son of single mother Jane Tearle 1844, of Stanbridge. She had three children: Minnie 1865 who died just a year later, Zephaniah, and Tryphena 1872, who tragically died in 1892, just 20 years old. Jane’s parents were John Tearle 1823 of Stanbridge and Eliza nee Irons. John was himself the only son of a single mother, Mary 1803 of Stanbridge, and she was a daughter of John Tearle 1770 of Stanbridge, and Mary nee Janes. And John 1770 was, of course, a son of John 1741 and Martha nee Archer.

The address, 23 Melville Rd, is the same for the 1901 census. Here, we find out that Zephaniah is a plate-layer on the railway and that both he and Annie had come directly from Stanbridge, in Bedfordshire. We will have a look much more closely at Zephaniah and Annie in another article, about them and their lives, and the other Tearle families who lived in Willesden. I thought I would show this page to help understand the neighbourhood that Zephaniah had moved to. He is working on or near the giant tangle of lines and trains that was Willesden Junction in the late Victorian and early 20th Century years. The people who live around him are decidedly working class; the one exception being the “Gentleman” Mr William Carpenter Hall, from 14 Park Rd.

In the 1911 census, Zephaniah and Annie have been married for 21 years, and have had five children, none of whom have died. Sidney is working for a butcher, as is Albert, his younger brother.

1911 Zephanaiah 1869 Annie 43 Bertram 20 Sidney 18 Albert 15 Lily 13 Stanley 11 in Harlesden

1911 census: Zephaniah 1869 and Annie, with Bertram 20 Sidney 18 Albert 15 Lily 13 Stanley 11 in Harlesden.

Since Sidney was 18 in 1911, then he was the perfect age (21yrs) to be dragged into WW1. Here is his entry in National Roll of the Great War:

Tearle Sidney Thomas National Roll

The note is both interesting, and chilling. The date, November 1917 is interesting, because he married in 1917:

Sidney Thomas 1893 marriage Florence May Fuller Emmanuel Paddington Westminster 1917

Sidney Thomas Tearle 1893, marriage to Florence May Fuller, Paddington, Westminster, 1917.

But look at the date! 26 December. Since he joined in November, and was on the Western Front in the same year, then there was not much time in which to have a wedding. You can see on the form that he was already a soldier (ASC) but that the army had signed him up and was about to use his butchering skills. I gather they were not expecting him to be engaged in too much fighting, because even basic training takes six weeks to two months.

The chilling part is that he was never out of range of the artillery, because he was delivering food and ammunition to the trenches – and then there is a list of some of the vast and most violent battles of the Great War. Arras, Vimy Ridge, Cambrai “and other sectors” says National Roll airily. Sidney was not in the Great War for as long as some of the other Tearles whose stories are told in National Roll, but he was in the thick of it.

There are just two items left in my catalogue of Sidney’s life: his medals card and his address once he returned to civilian life. Firstly, his medals card. However truncated the message is, it tells us most of what we need to know. This is another card that does not record a soldier’s entry into the Theatre of War, and as a result we have only the note from National Roll to tell us where he was, when, and what he did. In about 1922, he would have received by post his Victory Medal and his British Medal.

The last tiny dot of evidence I have for the life of Sidney Thomas is his address in 1932, from the Willesden Electoral Roll; Minet Gardens, NW10. We can see from the address that Sidney has not moved far from where his parents lived at 17 Minet Avenue, where they were in 1911. And Lilian Tryphena Noyce, living at number 11, is Sidney’s sister.

You take your culture with you; Zephaniah and Annie have brought the habits of the village with them, and living closely together is part of that culture.

 

http://www.tearle.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/Sidney-T-Tearle-M-380389-WW1-army-medals-record.jpg

Sidney’s medals card from the RASC.

 

Sidney Thomas Tearle, Minet Gardens, NW10.

Sidney Thomas Tearle, Minet Gardens, NW10.

16Apr/16

Edgar Tearle 1890, Stanbridge, UK (7/Beds Regt)

We have already had a look at Edgar’s brother, Frederick John Tearle 1884 of Stanbridge, who came back from WW1, wounded forever. He lived with his family in the house on Peddars Lane and finally died in 1956.

Edgar’s story is somewhat different, but it starts the same way. His parents were John Tearle 1861 of Stanbridge and Annie nee Walker. In the 1901 census, the family was living in the second house from the corner of Tilsworth Rd. John was a carter on a farm, and Frederick, the eldest son, was a “cowman” on a farm. The enumerator somewhat dismissively called John an Ag Horse, and Frederick an Ag Cattle, by way of job description. Edgar was seven years younger than Frederick, and at 10yrs old, he was still at school. Alice Agnes at 6yrs and 1yr old Mabel Edith made up the family.

In the 1911 census, there are a few changes, and we learn a little more about John and Annie. Firstly, John is now a County Council employee and he is working on the roads. Annie and John are in their late forties and they have had seven children, of which two have died. That may explain the seven-year gap between Frederick and Edgar. And there is one addition to the family, little Eric who is five years old, and he is at school.

Three years pass, and in that time cataclysmic forces rise steadily across Europe until finally what was to become the Great War fired the first shots in Sarajevo. The first months were gentle enough, not much different from previous small wars in Europe, and it appeared to many that it would all “be over by Christmas.” Edgar, caught up in the moment, volunteered. This would be quite an adventure, and not to be missed. Here is his entry in National Roll of the Great War.

Tearle Edgar National Roll

He was unbelievably lucky. He joined the war in the first few months, and was in Europe the following January, with just four months training. Professional soldiers are expensive to train, and expensive to replace. Volunteers, like Edgar and hundreds of thousands who followed him, were used in first-line positions to take the enemy fire and to probe the weak spots. How Edgar survived is a mystery. By the time he was wounded, he was a battle-hardened soldier who had a hastened return to the front line, to help show naive new troops how to fight, and stay alive.

Here is his medals card, showing his service awards, as noted above by National Roll.

Edgar Tearle 14397 and 590090 WW1 army medals record

You can see that he was in the Bedfordshire Regiment, number 14397, but interestingly, he was also in the Labour Corps. This was a huge operation to move supplies and maintain transport links.

Here he is, below, in his army uniform: this is a much-loved picture.

Edgar 1890 Stbg

He was always in danger. The battles he was involved in are legendary for slaughter and the waste of men’s lives. Loos. The Somme. Passchendaele. Cambrai. These battles, even today, are the stuff of nightmares. How he stayed alive is the first mystery; how he kept his sanity is another.

But somehow or other, he did both and in 1922 he married Louisa Jane Abraham, in Leighton Buzzard, and they had four children. Here is Louisa Jane with her second daughter, Daphne, taken in about 1930.

Louisa Tearle nee Abraham and Daphne

At the end of his working life, Edgar received the Imperial Service Medal, for his work in the Post Office.Notice of Imperial Service Medal to Edgar

On the next page is the medal he would have received with the note, above:

Edgar 1890 Imperial Service Medal

Edgar was living in a house at 12 Lamas Walk, Leighton Buzzard, when he was struck so sick he was moved to Churchill Hospital in Oxford, where, unfortunately, he died, aged only 60yrs.

Here is his entry in the National Probate Register:

Edgar Tearle entry in National Probate Register 1952

He was a fine man, and we can be proud that he was one of us.

15Apr/16

Frederick John Tearle 1884 (8/Beds Regt) and the last Tearles in Stanbridge

At the end of WW1, a private initiative began that tried to tell the stories of the soldiers of WW1. It was called National Roll of the Great War and while volumes were written, the work could hardly be called comprehensive. However, of the seventeen Tearle men whose stories are in the Roll, one volume does include the stories of two Stanbridge men, who were lucky enough to survive the war. The first is Frederick, and the second is Frederick’s younger brother, Edgar Tearle 1890.

Here is Frederick’s entry in National Roll:

Tearle, F J, Private, 8th Bedfordshire Regiment, who gave his address as Tilsworth Rd, Stanbridge. Below is his entry in National Roll:

Tearle Frederick John National Roll

This man was Frederick John Tearle, 1884 of Stanbridge, regimental number 27560 Bedfordshire Regiment and 59749 Suffolk Regiment.

It is a little odd that National Roll says that Frederick earned the 1914-15 Star, because his service medal record leaves this off.

Frederick J 27560, 59749 WW1 army medal rolls

Frederick J Tearle 27560, 59749 WW1 army medal record.

Mind you, they do not mention which Theatre of War Frederick joined (France) and when, so perhaps the card is incomplete.

Frederick was a son of John Tearle 1862 of Stanbridge and Annie nee Walker. John’s parents were James Tearle 1823 and Hannah nee Philips. James’ parents were Richard and Elizabeth nee Bodsworth, and that means that Frederick was on the branch of John 1741.

In the 1901 census Frederick was 17, Edgar was 10yrs old and at school and there were Alice Agnes, 6yr, and Mabel Edith only 1yr. John was a carter on a farm and Frederick was a cowman. The 1911 census, as usual, is a little telling. The form is filled out by Annie, and that reminded me that on their wedding certificate in 1884, John made his mark, but Annie signed her name. It tells us that although in their late 40s, the marriage  had already run for 28yrs, that they had 7 live births, but that two had since died. John is a roadman for the County Council, and I think that would be a good step up, and would pay better, and more reliably, than carting farm produce. Frederick (27yrs) was still a farm labourer, and younger brother Edgar, now 20yrs old, was working at a plant nursery. Alice Agnes is 15yrs and still at home.

In 1914 the entire land mass of Europe shook with the oncoming rush of war. Britain’s treaties caused her to take sides, and she dived headlong into a disaster on a global scale. Edgar signed up first (it was going to be over by Christmas, remember) in September 1914, and Frederick, who was but a grain of sand on a beach pounded by mighty waves, signed up too. It was March 1915.

Three of the battles mentioned in National Roll were vast slaughterhouses over months of war. The gently rolling lands of southern Belgium and Pas-de-Calais in northern France, where the River Somme winds lazily to the sea, were battlefields carved deeply with dugouts, underground headquarters and trenches. Disease was rife supplies ran out, and often the enemy trenches were as close as 100m. In this terrain, men fought for days for no gain, and in that endeavour they died in their tens of thousands. Frederick was unbelievably lucky to survive. It looks as though his injury in the Battle of the Somme was sufficiently serious for him not to be sent back to the battlefield. He was also, I think mostly for administrative reasons, transferred to the 8th Battalion, Suffolk Regiment, which reviewed his documentation and approved the awarding of his service medals. This also explains how he was given two army numbers. He was finally free to go home.

Frederick John Tearle 59749 record of service medals

But in what condition did he return home? The noise, the carnage, the friends he lost, all of these would have taken an enormous toll on him. In the battle of Cambrai, it was noted that large rats ate the bodies of dead soldiers. That the daily toll of men was about 300, even when the artillery was not firing. And Cambrai, remember, was when tanks were first used on a large scale. The battle of Cambrai was also where Charles Tearle 1894 of Preston was killed, and Ernest John Tearle 1898 (on the same page, above) was gassed.

I mention this, because Richard Inns, a Stanbridge villager, told me that Frederick returned to his parents’ house, closed the curtains, and was seldom seen outside the house for the rest of his life.

Over time, this house saw sad events:

John 1862 died in 1927

Annie nee Walker, John’s wife, died in 1931

Alice Agnes died in April 1956

Frederick died in September 1956.

So far as I know, Frederick was the last person living in the house; I suspect that the loss of his sister would have hastened his death.

Four houses from the intersection of Pedders Lane and Tilsworth Road is the house where the last Tearles in Stanbridge lived. It has been added to, but it still exists:

Pedders Lane - the last Tearle house in Stanbridge

Pedders Lane – the last Tearle house in Stanbridge

When you read the service that Frederick did for his country, and the horrific battles he fought in, there can be no wonder that he could not (or would not) marry on returning to Stanbridge. It is also little wonder that his entire world was reduced to the interior of the last place where he had felt affection and security.

Edgar died in Churchill Hospital in Oxford in 1950, but he had been living in Leighton Buzzard until then; I am not certain where Eric was living at the time, but when he died in September 1968, he was the last person born in Stanbridge to carry the Tearle name. A name which had lived in this village since at least 1580, was gone.

14Apr/16

Douglas Hubert Tearle 1923, St Albans, UK (RN)

Douglas Hubert Tearle 1923

By Alan Tearle

April 2016

This news cutting recently came to light celebrating the fact that Douglas Hubert Tearle was mentioned in Despatches (MiD) whilst serving as a telegraphist in the Mediterranean during WWII.

Douglas Hubert Tearle newspaper article 1945

Douglas Hubert Tearle newspaper article 1945

So who was Douglas, what did he do to warrant the MiD and what else did he experience during that time?

After further research and information from his family, this is his story.

Douglas was born in November 1923, in St Albans to Hubert Major Tearle 1893, of Toddington and Daisy Rose née Howard. Doug and Hubert were descendants of John Tearle 1741.

Douglas was called up in August 1942 at the age of 18½ and chose to join the Royal Navy. His service record is below.

Douglas Hubert Tearle service record

Looking at his record in more detail:

HMS Royal Arthur was a shore-based training establishment for signallers, sited at the Butlin’s holiday camp near Skegness.

The class of Royal Arthur

In this photograph, Doug is standing in the second to back row, third from right.

HMS Mercury was another shore-based training establishment for signallers at East Meon near Petersfield commissioned in 1941. Doug’s wife Phyl recollects that HMS Mercury was in Portsmouth. (see Phyl’s memoirs below). There was a signals school in Portsmouth which then transferred to East Meon so maybe there was a period of overlap.

HMS Assegai was a central drafting pool, transit camp and central training establishment at Wentworth near Durban, South Africa.

HMS Nile (Sphinx)  was a shore establishment based at Ras el Tin Point, Alexandria. The Sphinx in brackets refers to the accommodation camp adjacent to HMS Nile.

HMS Mauritius was a Fiji or Colony class light cruiser. Doug spent ten months on board during which time they supported the allied landings at Sicily (Operation Huskey), Salerno (Operation Avalanche) and Anzio (Operation Shingle) as well as taking part in convoy and escort duties.

He was serving on HMS Mauritius when he was promoted from Ordinary Telegraphist to Telegraphist. The reason for the promotion is not recorded but it may have been a natural progression through service and experience or filling a gap left by another Telegraphist being transferred.

HMS Mauritius

Above:    HMS Mauritius
Launched           19. 7.1939
Commissioned     1.1.1941
Scrapped                  1965

HMS Hannibal (HMT Egilsay). HMS Hannibal was a Naval Special Operations base for inshore craft of the African Coast Flotilla. The name in brackets is the standard notation for the vessel he was serving on whilst based there, in this case His Majesty’s Trawler Egilsay.  

HMT Egilsay

Above:     HMT Egilsay
Launched             7.2.1942
Commissioned     8.7.1942
Sold to Italian Navy   1946

HMT Egilsay was an Isles class trawler/minesweeper probably stationed in the Mediterranean as  part of a detachment of the Royal Naval Patrol Service (RNPS). Doug served on board for ten months.

This was followed by more time at HMS Nile before returning to the UK and HMS Mercury followed by a week at HMS Europa, the RNPS Headquarters and one of five naval bases in Lowestoft.

HMS Claverhouse was a shore base which covered several ports on the Firth of Forth. During this time he was assigned to HMT Arab in Rosyth. Earlier, in 1940 the commander of HMT Arab, Lieutenant Richard Been Stannard, won the only Victoria Cross awarded to a member of the RNPS, during the Narvik campaign.

Doug then spent one week in HMS Paragon, a minesweeper base in Hartlepool still with HMT Arab before returning to HMS Europa for a year while the authorities processed the paperwork for a Class A (early!) release.

Phyl Tearle’s memoirs

Doug could not be persuaded to write down his experiences so his wife, Phyl, whom he married in 1946, did it for him. Below is an extract from her 1996 memoirs covering Doug’s time in the navy.

In August 1942, when Doug was 18½, he was called up for service and he chose the Royal Navy. He did 6 months initial training as a Telegraphist at land base HMS Royal Arthur at Skegness. They lived 3 to a chalet which had one single bed and one double bed so that two men had to sleep in the double bed with a board down the middle. It was bitterly cold that winter and life was far from comfortable. (Lucy’s father also experienced life at Skegness a year before Doug and he too remembers the hardships only too well.) [Lucy is Doug and Phyl’s daughter-in-law. Her father, Ewart Oakeshott, also trained at HMS Royal Arthur in 1941 where he contracted TB and was invalided out before ever going to sea.]

From Skegness Doug went to the Signal School, HMS Mercury, at Portsmouth. He was there for a month waiting for a draft and said he spent most of that month just sweeping up and wasting time. In March 1943 he was drafted to land base HMS Assegai in Durban and was there for another month. After that he was on a Dutch troop ship, the Rhys, and they sailed to Port Tufiq at the south end of the Red Sea. From there they went by train to a transit camp HMS Sphinx at Alexandria. His next draft was to a cruiser HMS Mauritius. Their first job was to sail back through the Suez Canal to the Red Sea to test the twelve 6″ guns in preparation for the landing on Sicily. The Mauritius played her part in the invasion of Sicily, and also sailed up the Italian coast supporting the Army landings at Salerno, Naples and Anzio. During these manoeuvres they could see Mount Vesuvius erupting, and they could also see Mount Stromboli which was smoking continuously. These were good landmarks for them. The Mauritius supported the landings in southern France at Marseilles and Toulon. When given a few days “rest”, some of the crew, including Doug, climbed up Mount Etna and that too was still smoking. There was snow at the top of Mount Etna and the lads used an old door from an observatory as a sledge to get down.

Around March 1944 the Mauritius was ordered home as she had completed her overseas spell but Doug was left at Malta and was soon drafted to HMS Egilsay, a T-class minesweeper. The Egilsay was a fishing trawler converted for the purpose of minesweeping, convoy escorting and anti-submarine duties. Normally in its days of fishing the Egilsay carried a crew of about ten; as a minesweeper it had a crew of fifty (4 Officers, 5 Petty Officers and the rest Ratings), so conditions were very cramped to say the least. When they first joined the Egilsay every member of the crew had to go through the practice ordeal of hearing the order “abandon ship” and jump into the sea no matter what they were doing. Who’d be a sailor!

There was only one other Telegraphist besides Doug and the two of them were working 12 hour shifts.

It was soon after Doug joined the Egilsay that Barbara was born, and the family gave me the job of telegraphing the news to him. I obviously didn’t word it very well and it read as if Doug was the father. When the Captain of the ship received the telegraph he sent for Telegraphist Tearle and congratulated him on the arrival of his daughter. “But I haven’t been home for 2 years”, said a puzzled Doug! I have never lived that faux pas down. [Barbara is the daughter of Doug’s brother Leslie and Phyl’s sister Mollie.]

At one time the transmitting aerial had snapped during the bad weather and Doug had to climb the mast to replace it. The sea was exceedingly rough and the ship very small with the result that while he was up the mast he seemed to be always over the sea and never over the ship! Not a happy experience. At times the sea was so rough that when the sailors went down the gangway to the deck, they would put their feet on the top step and then find themselves on the bottom step without having to actually climb down.

The Egilsay’s time was spent escorting convoys to the south of France, and minesweeping all around Greece preparing the way for troops to land. When sweeping here they were joined by about 6 other minesweepers, all sweeping non-stop. Supplies were short as they had no base to go to, and they used to anchor at night in any harbour or bay they could find amongst the Greek Islands. One night, with all the interference and geographical difficulties, Doug couldn’t get through to Malta to give the Captain’s daily report although he could hear Malta transmitting. He could also hear London transmitting, so he took a chance and after using all sorts of necessary codes etc. managed to pass his report to London who in turn transmitted it to Malta.

On one occasion when minesweeping they came across what appeared to be the new type of mine which the Germans had just started using.      Absolute panic!     Somehow they managed to tow it in to harbour but the harbour authorities didn’t want them there in case the thing went off.    However, the “mine” turned out to be a new shaped ordinary buoy. Were their faces red!

During all the minesweeping time, which you can imagine was absolutely horrendous, recommendations for awards were sent through, and Doug was “mentioned in a despatch for distinguished service” and received the oak leaf. The Chief Petty Officer Engineer of the Egilsay was awarded the DSM. Apparently it doesn’t matter how long you spend at sea, you still get seasick, and I have visions of Doug sitting transmitting with his bucket beside him at the ready, which is exactly as it was.

At last in mid January 1945 he was drafted home travelling on a landing tank craft, and I gather the bucket was in use again going round the Bay of Biscay. He had been away from home for a very long time and when he walked in the house at Radlett his mother just burst into tears. After a spot of leave he joined another trawler, HMS Arab in Rosyth. The Arab had been badly damaged, and Doug and others were lowered over the side on a plank and given the precarious job of painting her. While in Scotland he took part in the Victory Parade in Princes Street in Edinburgh.

Painting a ship - the old way.

Painting a ship – how they used to do it.

Mentioned in Despatches

So far no record of Doug’s MiD citation has been found. The Minewarfare & Clearance Diving Officers Association does list many WWII awards for RN minesweeping but unfortunately it is not complete. A typical MiD citation for members of the RNPS reads,

‘……..awarded for steadfast courage and skill in dangerous and important minesweeping operations.’

It appears that MiDs were awarded for distinguished service rather than specific actions.

Extract from the London Gazette 11 Dec 1945 listing Doug’s MiD.

Extract from the London Gazette 11 Dec 1945 listing Doug’s MiD.

His service number was LT/JX359565. The ‘LT’ signified Lowestoft as his Port Division (Welfare Authority), the ‘J’, that he was classified as a seaman or communicator and the ‘X’, that he joined after the pay review of 1925.

Service War medal with oak leaf

Doug’s War Medal with oak leaf.

Notice of MiD

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All RN personnel who were Mentioned in Despatches  received a commendation from the Admiralty and an Oak Leaf to wear as a bar on their War Medal 1939-1945. Doug’s commendation hangs proudly in his son’s dining room.

The Royal Naval Patrol Service

The RNPS was originally set up using trawlers and small ships to protect the home coastal waters but later were also deployed for minesweeping and escort duties in the North Atlantic, the Arctic, the Mediterranean and the Far East.

They were often referred to as ‘Churchill’s Pirates’ or ‘Harry Tate’s Navy’. The latter name came from a music hall star whose act included anything mechanical going wrong and falling apart. The RNPS was originally made up of small old vessels, mostly commandeered trawlers and their crews, both of which were not considered ‘shipshape’ by other branches of the service. The work was so hazardous that by the end of the war the name had become synonymous with courage.

There is currently no evidence that Doug was a member of the RNPS other than the fact that he served on HMT Egilsay and that other ships of that class are listed as being part of the service. Members who completed more than six months sea time, as Doug did, were rewarded with a silver badge. Unfortunately, if Doug did receive one, it has been lost. There may be a reason for this in that the original badge issued had a vertical pin on the back and was easily lost. The design was changed to one with four holes to be sewn on to the uniform sleeve and it may have been overlooked when his uniform was disposed of.

Silver badge

Silver badge, later version

However, on the museum page of the RNPS Association website it states that:

‘Lining the walls of the Europa Room are the 17 boards listing the 850 or thereabouts honours won by members of the RNPS during WW2, including a VC, along with a list of over 200 ‘Mentioned in Despatches’’.

A visit to Lowestoft may be called for soon.

 

 

 

 

Souvenir of Egypt for Mother

 

One last piece of memorabilia.

An embroidery by Doug to take home to his mum.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Later life

On leaving the navy Doug returned to the grocery trade becoming a manager for Kinghams in Hendon and then Finchley. 1957 saw the family move north where he managed shops in Stratford-upon-Avon (1957-1960), Solihull (1960-1978) and Kenilworth (1978-1980) for George J. Mason and later for International Stores. Whilst at Solihull, they had a delivery driver who always had everyone in stitches when he was in the shop. His name was Bob Davis, probably better known as Jasper Carrott.

His last job was as an office manager for a small company where Phyl was the office secretary. He retired in 1988 and passed away in 2001.

Douglas Hubert TearleDouglas Hubert Tearle in Uniform

Douglas Hubert Tearle 1923-2001

© Alan Tearle 2016

03Apr/16

Joseph Tearle 1878, Preston (4/Loyal Nth Lancs)

The Preston Tearles are all descended from one marriage in Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire, between Joseph Tearle 1803 and Mary Ann nee Smith. They had (amongst many children) a son called Joseph, born in 1838, who married Sophia Kibble in Preston, Lancs, in 1858. Other members of the family drifted up to Preston on the Euston-Dunstable-Preston railway line and became part of the Lancashire business culture that Joseph had joined. Unsurprisingly, the parents of Joseph 1803 were Richard 1778 and Mary nee Pestel, and Richard’s parents were Joseph 1737 of Stanbridge, and Phoebe nee Capp.

Now, the son of Joseph 1838 (of interest to us militarily) was Joseph 1878, who had married Rachel Elizabeth Parker in 1900, in Preston. In the 1901 census, they were living in the house of Rachel’s parents and Joseph was working as a drysalter – basically, as a chemist. You would have thought that a man with three children in 1911, and 34yrs old in 1914, would be safe from the recruiters, working busily to send men to WW1. Not so for Joseph. I have precious little documentation, but his medals card speaks volumes:

Joseph 4029 WW1 army medal rolls

Joseph Tearle 4029 WW1 army medal rolls.

Firstly, on 31 June 1915 he joined the 4th Battalion, Loyal North Lancashire Regiment and was given the number 4029 and the rank of private. His discharge date is odd – in the middle of 1916, fully two years before the armistice of 11 Nov 1918. In the next column is the reason for his early release – he was given a Para 392 discharge. Paragraph 392 of the King’s Regulations refers to a medical or physical condition (eg wounds) so serious that he “is not fit enough to be an efficient soldier.” I cannot find the Chelsea records that would document the process of this decision, but I do have the document that grants him the Silver War Badge. This badge would allow him to go home and wear it on his civilian clothes to indicate that he did everything he could to go to war, that he had caught a dreadful sickness caused by active service, and to the highest standards of the British army, he was in no condition to fight.

Here is his record in the awarding of the Silver War Badge, as well as the document itself:

WW1 Silver War Badge
Name:    Joseph Tearle
Discharge Unit:    4th L.N. Lancs.
Regiment Number:    4023
Rank:    Pte.
Badge Number:    117528
Unit:    Infantry (Preston)
Piece:    3085
List Number:    TH 0401-0800
Record Group:    WO
Record Class:    329

Joseph Tearle WW1 Silver War Badge

Joseph Tearle 4023, WW1 Silver War Badge.

The hand-written numbers in the central column are the serial numbers of the badges awarded to each soldier. You can see that he was given a Para 392 discharge, and that he had not fought overseas.

02Apr/16

Charles Francis Stewart Tearle 1912, Edmonton, Essex, UK (RN)

Charles EW & son Charles FS

Charles E W & son Charles F S Tearle

Charles Francis Stewart Tearle 1912, of Edmonton, Essex was the son of Charles Ernest Walter Tearle 1863, of Southwark, London, who fought with the Norfolk Regiment in WW1 and was awarded the Silver War Badge because of the severity of a sickness he caught on active duty. If you look up the reference above you will be able to see the ancestry details of Charles 1912, who is on the branch of Joseph 1737.

In the photograph the two men, Charles E W on the left and Charles 1912, are having a lark with the photographer (Mrs Tearle?) As you can see Charles Jnr is in full navy uniform. Here is the record of Charles 1912 from CWGC:

Name: TEARLE, CHARLES FRANCIS STEWART
Initials: C F S    Nationality: United Kingdom
Rank: Able Seaman    Regiment/Service: Royal Navy
Unit Text: H.M.S. Culver
Date of Death: 31/01/1942    Service No: P/JX 235706
Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead
Grave/Memorial Reference: Panel 65, Column 1.
Memorial: PORTSMOUTH NAVAL MEMORIAL

Charles Francis Stewart Tearle

Charles Francis Stewart Tearle

The Royal Navy archives note that the Culver was American-made:
Type: Sloop
Class: Banff
Pennant: Y 87
Built by: Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corp. (Quincy, Massachusetts, U.S.A.)
Laid down: 20 Jun, 1928    Launched: 27 Nov, 1928
Commissioned: 30 Apr, 1941
Lost: 31 Jan, 1942

A short history of the ship noted the following:
Former name: USCG Mendota (It was originally built for the US Coast Guard, and you would wonder if a 1928 ship was going to cut it in a 1940s conflict.)
History: At 23.31 hours on 31 January 1942, U-125 fired a salvo of four torpedoes at the convoy SL-98 and observed two hits and a large explosion. Schuch thought that he had hit an ammunition freighter, but in fact it was HMS Culver (Lt.Cdr. R.T. Gordon-Duff, RN) that had blown up in position 48.43N, 20.14W with the loss of the commanding officer, seven officers and 118 ratings.
Hit by U-boat. Sunk on 31 Jan, 1942 by U-105 (Schuch).

Charles FS (behind) HMS Culver

Charles F S Tearle (behind) on board the HMS Culver.

In the Royal Navy, ship’s companies seldom wore life-jackets, although they were carried aboard all vessels. Since the ship was observed to have blown up in a huge explosion, it was likely that few would have survived the first seconds of the incident, and those who did would probably not have access to a life-jacket in the short time it took for the Culver to sink.

You can see above that Charles’ permanent memorial (and the only one I know of) is his name on the Southsea Naval Memorial in Portsmouth. The Portsmouth memorial looks identical to the Plymouth memorial. Here is the obelisk:

Southsea Naval Memorial

Here is Charles’ name on the Portsmouth Naval Memorial on Southsea Common on Panel 65, Column 1, just where CWGC said it was.

Charles F S Tearle Portsmouth Naval Memorial

A Hertfordshire archive gave me a little more information on the ship:

HMS Culver was a Sloop of the Banff type, built by Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corp. (Quincy, Massachusetts, U.S.A.). She was launched on 27 November 1928. At 23.31 hours on 31 January 1942, U-105 fired a salvo of four torpedoes at the Sierra Leone convoy SL-93, west of the Bay of Biscay, and observed two hits and a large explosion. Although the U-boat thought that they had hit an ammunition freighter, they had in fact hit HMS Culver (Y 87) (Lt.Cdr. R.T. Gordon-Duff, R.N.) that blew up with the loss of the commanding officer, seven officers and 118 ratings. There were only 13 survivors.

A history of the US Coast Guard gave me some information on the Mendota:

Mendota, 1929 (later – HMS Culver, Y-87)
The cutter Mendota was named for the largest of the “Four Lakes” near Madison, Wisconsin.

Builder: Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corporation, Quincy, MA
Launched: 27 November 1928
Commissioned: 23 March 1929
Displacement: 2,075 tons
Dimensions: 250′ oa (236′ bp) x 42′ x 12′ 11″ draft (mean)
Machinery 1 turbine-driven electric motor (General Electric), 2 boilers, 3,350 shp, 14.8 knots (cruising), 17.5 knots max
Propellers: single, 4 blades
Complement: 97 (1940)
Armament: 1 x  5″/51; 1 x 3″/50; 2 x 6-pdrs (1929)
Cost: $900,000 each (hull & machinery)

“LAKE”-CLASS DESIGN

The 250-foot class cutters were designed by the Coast Guard and were, in many respects, modernized 240-footers.  Captain Q.B. Newman, USCG, designed its innovative turbine-electric-drive power plant, which developed an amazing 3,350 shp.  These were the first to have alternating current, and a synchronous motor for propulsion.  The whole ship ran off the main turbine.  The auxiliary generators were tied into the main generator electrically, after sufficient speed was attained.  At that point, no steam was required to drive the turbines on the auxiliary generators.  The propulsion plant achieved remarkable efficiency.  The counter stern and plumb bow of the older class had given way to the flared stem and cruiser stern.  These features were an attempt to improve sea qualities over the 240-foot class, particularly to eliminate the heavy shocks common in the North Atlantic Ice Patrol.

Initially this class was made up of ten cutters, all of which were transferred to Great Britain under Lend-Lease in 1941.  They were to be replaced in the USCG inventory by the 255-foot Owasco-class vessels, laid down in 1943. Three vessels were lost while in British service, one was not returned, and the remainder turned back to the Coast Guard in 1946.

A 250-feet long ship is quite a sight, and in 1928, the Mendota would have been a modern and sizeable fighting vessel. As we can see above, she was used for patrolling convoys that carried goods to and from India, Africa and the US during WW2. It was simply desperate bad luck that the Culver was struck by a torpedo while on convoy duty. Of the ten cutters hired to the Royal Navy only three were lost, and sadly for us, the HMS Culver was one of them, and we lost Charles Francis Stewart Tearle along with her.

All the photographs in this story are thanks to the generosity of Paul Ailey, and my sincere thanks to him are recorded here.