Category Archives: Roll of Honour WW2

Men and women from Tearle families who died in WW2.

07May/17

Sqn Ldr Alec Raymond Tearle MBE 1929, Wing, Buckinghamshire, UK (RAF)

Alec and Beryl Tearle

I knew my cousin, Alec Tearle, although only slightly. He rang me once in New Zealand, and I remarked then on his beautiful, cathedral-filling, gravelly voice, with perfect diction. He and his wife Beryl took us to a wedding in Langtoft, Lincolnshire, where they were in the church choir for the ceremony. He modestly called himself a “wedding singer,” and he had an effortless baritone.

He told me one story of his military life. He had just been promoted to Base Commander of an aerodrome where he was in charge of the Queen’s Flight. His first morning in the control tower was cold and foggy, but as the fog lifted and the tower began to count down to the first of many flights that morning, he saw a small woman in a tweed coat walking a dog on the macadam.
“Who the hell is that!” he stormed. “Get her off the runway!”
“Excuse me, Sir.”
“What!”
“That’s the boss.”

In 1946, immediately after WW2, RAF Benson hosted Kings Flight; it became the Queens Flight in 1952. That Alec was in charge of Queens Flight means this incident occurred at RAF Benson. Queens Flight was disbanded in 1995 to become part of No.32 Squadron at RAF Northolt.

Alec’s MBE was notified in a Supplement to The London Gazette of 3rd June 1972, page 6261.

London Gazette

Here is his MBE alongside his RAF Long Service Military Medal

There are other small but valuable snippets in the London Gazette. The earliest would appear to be his promotion on 29 June 1971, page 6948:

In the Gazette of 18 July 1978, p8265 was Alec’s promotion to Squadron Leader. As you can see, he already had his MBE:

Flight Lieutenant to Squadron Leader:
K. F. DAVIES (4022524).
C. J. ORME (4335409).
A. R. TEARLE, M.B.E. (4025695).
J. ROLLS (583369).

And finally, in the Gazette of 28 August 1984, page 11701, there was this announcement:

Retirement
Air Commodore W, J. J. NORTHMOKE, C.B.E., C.Eng.,
M.I.E.R.E., M.R.Ae.S., 10th Jul. 1984.
Wing Commanders :
BULLOCK, Bi.Sc. (504033H), llth Jul. 1984.
H. HUGHES, C.Eng., M.R.Ae.S., M.I.W.M.,
M.B.IM. (3035291J), 20th Jui. 1984.
Squadron Leader A. R. TEARLE, M.B.E. (4025695B) (at
own request), 14th Jul. 1984.
Flight Lieutenant W. D. JAMES (4116333P) (at own
request), 12th Jun. 1984.

At one stage, he was the president of the Langtoft and Deepings branch of the Royal British Legion.

His official obituary was published in The Telegraph of 12 January 2016:
TEARLE Sqn.Ldr Alec M.B.E. (ret’d) passed away peacefully at Peterborough City Hospital on 22nd December 2015, aged 86 years. Dearly beloved husband of Beryl, treasured father of Stephanie, Simon and Timothy and beloved grandfather of Gemma, Andrew, Elizabeth and James. He will be sadly missed by all his devoted family and friends. The funeral service will take place on Tuesday 12th January 2016 at 12.00 (noon) at Peterborough Crematorium, Marholm.

He is remembered with great affection by his family. His son, Timothy, sent me this fine obituary:
In recent years Alec and Beryl lived in Langtoft, Lincolnshire, a small village just outside of the picturesque market town of Market Deeping strangely enough just inside Cambridgeshire.
They enjoyed a significant number of years in happy retirement, being active in the local Church, the local village hall and events therein. Their garden, their pride and joy, an oasis of colour and scent in the Flat Lands of the Fens.
It is with sadness that we, Stephanie, Simon, Timothy and our wonderful mother Beryl, lost Alec to a brief but troubling illness in December 2015. He passed away peacefully at Peterborough General Hospital 22nd Dec 2015.
Father was an incredible man of quiet nature, but huge achievements. His engineering skills embraced the introduction of modern technology to the Royal Air Force, seeing the transition from the most advanced Piston Engine Propulsion, to the fledgling, and latterly the high tech world of supersonic jet propulsion. Being a unique man, his craft of Air-Frame and Engines meant that he was frequently called upon to pioneer procedures on the new fighters, bombers and specialist aircraft entering service with the Royal Air Force throughout the 1950’s and well into the 80’s.
His grasp of engineering led him to refurbishing and re-commissioning a gas production plant in Bahrain. This enabled the Armed Services to have valuable assets in terms of liquid gasses at their disposal in an area where tensions were ever fraught, and the constant supply of liquid gasses essential to the operational capabilities of both maritime and airborne services in the Middle East during the 1970’s.
This successful project, together with work on the Island’s only power plant, (4 Rolls Royce Aero engines converted for running on gas) to secure a constant and uninterrupted power supply to the Island, were recognised with the award of his MBE. There are many other major achievements that we children know too little about to list in any detail!
He was born to Harry and Millicent, 15th June 1929 in Wing, Bucks, the eldest of their children, and brother to Thelma (Sheppard), Roy (who died very young from TB), Denis and “little” Rachel.
On the 20th Jan 1951, he was married to Beryl Jean Proctor at St. Barnabas Church, Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire.

Their love and strength together enabled them to celebrate 64 years, and very nearly 65 years of marriage before his passing.
During their life together they lived a happy and varied life, encompassing over-seas postings, periods of enforced separation, and very many moves at the behest of the Air Force.
We children grew up in a happy, loving and, in a great many ways, privileged household. We enjoyed the trappings of Father’s continued successes most ably assisted by Mothers constant loving, support, and drive, to enable him to excel at every task he undertook.
Beryl was lovingly cared for by Alec up to the final days before he went into hospital. Beryl in later years developed Vascular Dementia and the demands this uninvited condition placed upon Alec were considerable. He did, however, deal with it as with everything in his life, stoically and with love, tenderness, compassion and considerable good humour. Proving how even at this most delicate and demanding of tasks, he excelled.
Beryl is now living close to Stephanie and Simon in Oxfordshire, close to RAF Benson where Alec was stationed as Ground Engineering Officer in the late 1970’s.
We are all able to visit regularly and at time of writing, I am delighted to report that she is very well, comfortable and happy.

The pioneer years:

The photographs below are privately owned, and supplied by Tim Tearle, Alec’s son. If you compare Alec in his wedding photo above, with the photos of him below, then the first four photos were taken in the 1950s, but the location is unknown.

Tim says that Alec was at RAF Benson in the late 1970s, and that is possibly the setting for the story of the “lady on the runway” because he would have had sufficient seniority to be in charge of Queens Flight.

Alec, left, and compatriot.

 

Gloster Meteor, the only jet fighter of the Allies in WW2, and the first civilian-registered jet aircraft in the world. Five Meteors worldwide are still airworthy.

 

Alec, standing centre, with fellow engineers. The aircraft in the background looks like a Gloster Meteor.

 

Alec Tearle

 

Alec Tearle

 

Alec Tearle, centre.

Acknowledgements:

Thanks to Tim Tearle for sending me the resources above with the request that I write an article about his father. Without Tim’s help, there would have been no story.

Thanks also to Barbara Tearle of Oxford who alerted me to the London Gazette postings, above.

18Feb/17

Eaton Bray Tearle memorials

St Mary’s Church, Eaton Bray

The vicar of Stanbridge, Helen Gardiner, wrote to me to say she had seen mention of a Tearle in the Church of St Mary’s, Eaton Bray. She thought it was on the lectern. This was of great interest because Eaton Bray is one of the Tearle Valley villages, which we had visited, but on all occasions, St Mary’s was closed. This time (Feb 2017) we were lucky, a very pleasant and knowledgeable lady was arranging flowers for the coming weekend services and she was happy to have company while she did so. St Mary’s is an old and beautiful church built in the 1200s, so it is not a classic Norman design, but it is tall and of ample proportions, with a few additions that had been tidily added over the centuries of its life. Very few of its headstones are left; some are leaning against two perimeter walls, and a block of concrete had little plaques of the names of villagers who had been cremated. A war memorial took pride of place at the head of the pedestrian access to the building. We examined everything we could find for Tearle names, but there was nothing, in spite of there being Tearles in Eaton Bray since at least the early 1700s.

The first impression of the interior of the church is that it is filled with light and it is well maintained.

St Mary’s Eaton Bray interior towards the altar

A glance over your shoulder exposes the quite beautiful pipe organ attached to a wall behind which is the belfry. I asked the flower lady about the organ and she said there were recitals in the church, and they were well attended.

The pipe organ, St Mary’s Eaton Bray

Over time, some quite beautiful stained glass windows had been added.

St Mary’s Eaton Bray stained glass windows

We set about trying to find the Tearle memorial that Rev Helen Gardiner had referred to. First, though, was a complete surprise; a Roll of Honour with the name Robert Tearle.

St Mary Eaton Bray Roll of Honour

He had been born in Eaton Bray in 1887 and died in 1962. Below is the reference in closeup: “Beds” refers to his original enrollment as a private in the Bedfordshire Regiment.

Robert Tearle on St Mary Eaton Bray Roll of Honour

Then we found the lectern and the name of the Tearle we had come to find: it was Jeffrey, born in Eaton Bray in 1874, who died in 1952.

Lectern with Jeffery Tearle’s name

Here is a closeup of the memorial:

Jeffrey Tearle 1874-1952 in St Mary’s Eaton Bray

We were very touched; Jeffrey had continued his work as church verger, literally until he died.

But there was one more surprise; underneath the organ was a display which included a booklet on the Roll of Honour which, when it had been taken from its original hanging place was found to contain a note of all the villagers who had served in the Second World War, and amongst those was Jeffrey’s son Basil Jeffrey Tearle, who was born in Eaton Bray in 1921.

Basil Tearle St Mary’s WW2 Roll of Honour

Who were these men, and what do we know about them? Let’s start with Robert. He was born in 1887, so he was only 27 when WW1 started. He was always going to be drawn into that massive conflict which raged across Europe for four years at the cost of approximately 10 million military lives, and around 6 million civilian casualties.

Robert Tearle 1887, of Eaton Bray, was born to Alfred Tearle and Mary Ann nee Roe, also of Eaton Bray, on the 15 Sep 1887. His parents took a little while to baptise him, but that did take place, on 4 Sep 1890. He was the eldest of four children – Doris May in 1899, Arnott in 1900 and Aubrey in 1903 all followed him. Alfred and Mary Ann were married in 1887, in the beautiful church you can see above. In 1911, when Frederick filled in the census form, he was a bootmaker and poultry farmer, working from home. Robert was 23yrs old and he was a shoemaker and repairer, working on his “own account” presumably from the same address. The other children were at school.

In order to show you Robert’s ancestry, I need to digress for a moment and show you an outline of the Tearle tree from Alfred and backwards into history. Alfred’s father was William Tearle, born 1830, in Eaton Bray, who married Harriet Janes, of Eaton Bray, in 1851. They had three children, Hannah 1852, Tabitha 1854 and George 1856, who died in 1873. Remember Tabitha; we shall see her again.  In 1858 Harriett died, aged just 28yrs. I’m afraid I do not know why. With three small children on his hands, William married Ann Rogers of Leighton Buzzard in 1861, in the beautiful little church above, St Mary’s of Eaton Bray. At the time, she was a single mother with a son, John Rogers (named after her father) born 1857. The couple had seven children, of whom Frederick was second. Jonas, the first of their Tearle children was born and tragically died in 1861 at what cost to his parents, we cannot tell. Most of the Tearle children who were born after Alfred moved to the industrial areas of Northamptonshire, to become machinists and boot makers, and here is why: in 1849, a branch railway line was opened from Stanbridgeford to Dunstable; it was a walk of a few miles from Eaton Bray to the station, but only a few hundred yards from Stanbridge, and the people of Tearle Valley could take advantage of the opportunities in the new industrial cities to rid themselves of the sometimes intolerable grind of rural poverty.

William’s parents were George Tearle 1797, of Eaton Bray and Mary nee Hill of Hallibridge, near Spalding, in Lincolnshire. How they met is anyone’s guess, because people tended not to travel much outside their immediate countryside, if only because travel was difficult, dirty, expensive, and sometimes hazardous.

George’s parents were Thomas 1763 of Stanbridge, and Mary nee Gurney of Eaton Bray. In this marriage, we can see the movement of one family from the ancestral home of the Tearles in Stanbridge, to a village still in the same well-defined valley, about 4 miles away. And there they stayed, until the children of Alfred heard the call to the cities not particularly far from home.

Thomas’ parents were John Tearle 1741 of Stanbridge and Martha nee Archer. They had seven children, of whom Thomas was the second. John’s parents were Thomas Tearle 1709 and Mary nee Sibley. In another essay on this site, I have explored the relationships and events that lead to the marriage of Thomas and Mary, but the Tree now goes back to John Tearle of Stanbridge born about 1560, and with a few gaps here and there, the story of the Tearles in and around Tearle Valley goes back as far as the late 1300s.

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03Jun/16

William Alfred John Tearle 1890, Firefighter of Lostwithiel

It was Richard Tearle, leader of the Tearle research group, who first came across the story of William Tearle, the Cornish firefighter. He wrote to me in January, 2009.

Ewart – whilst idly browsing, I came upon this article:

“In September 1939 the National Fire Service was formed with Lostwithiel being a part of the service. By this time, `Loveday’ was replaced by a trailer and drawn by a lorry that was kept in Skelton’s Garage, Bridgend. Lostwithiel was frequently called to attend fires in Plymouth, Devonport, and Torpoint during the blitz of 1940 – 1941. During one of these raids, Section Leader Tearle lost his life, he was one of Lostwithiel Unit’s earliest casualties of the war.”

There are no other details that I can find – do we have any records of Tearles in Cornwall? This man clearly died as a civilian, albeit a member of the fire brigade. ‘Loveday’, by the way was a horse drawn steam engine….

Tracy Stanton was quickly onto the story – she had found the death registration: Q2 1941 William A J Tearle Bodmin reg dist. vol 5c page 234. Age 51.

And she had found more –
On the Firefighters Memorial site the date is given as 26 April 1941 but his MI in Restormal Rd Cem. reads as 1 May 1941. He appears to be William Alfred J Tearle born 1890 Woburn district. I found him in the 1891 census in Toddington, mother Eliza. Ann born Falmouth, Cornwall.”

Pat Field added to the growing list of telling details:
“Could this be a grandson of John 1831 and Maria Major? They had a son William 1863 born in Toddington.
1901 census: 7 Albany Road Toddington gives us William Tearle (transcribed Searle) 37 Carter born Toddington, Elizabeth 38 Wife born Falmouth and children Elizabeth 19 born Acton, Violet 15 born Acton and William A J 11 born Toddington.”

We had found a Toddington man who had moved to London, married a Falmouth girl, had three children in London, moved back to Toddington and had one more. That lad, William, had moved to Lostwithiel, Cornwall, and died fighting fires in the Plymouth Blitz. Extraordinary. If he was 11 in 1901, then he was a perfect age to be dragged into WW1, which he obviously survived.

I found the Lostwithiel Museum and rang the curator, Tremar Menendez. I asked him if he knew of a William Tearle. “Oh,” he said, “You best talk to Gillian Parsons, she knows everyone and everything.”

Smiling, I rang the number he gave me. Gill Parsons did know everything. She and a fellow museum committee member had researched William and his death and had written an article for the Museum Monthly. She would send it to me. As a result of the article, the Firefighters Memorial Trust had carried out its own research and agreed that William’s name should be added to the Firefighters National Memorial at the head of the Millennium Bridge, close to St Pauls.

“I have seen that memorial many times and examined it closely twice. I have not seen a Tearle name on it.”

“His name,” she said, “was added in November 2008.” I had not been to see the monument since about August.

Her article, a letter and some photographs arrived by post a couple of days later. She had met Victor, William’s son, in the village – he had just been to London to see the monument and he was very pleased. “Apparently,” she wrote, “his father married Ellen Hambly from Covich’s Mill (a very small hamlet about three miles away) near Lostwithiel.” William’s name had been added to a memorial in St Andrews Church, Plymouth, and Victor remembered going to the ceremony many decades ago. Victor would be pleased to speak with me if I contacted him.

Unfortunately, Victor could hardly understand a word I said because he was very deaf. “Is it all right if I come and see you?” I asked. “I would like that,” he said.

“How would you like to go to Plymouth for a week in the holidays?” I asked Elaine.

“The furthest west we have been is Ilfracombe, so that would be good,” she said. “What’s the occasion?”

I told her my plan was to see the memorial in St Andrews Church in Plymouth and then go to Lostwithiel to meet Victor.

“Lost who?”

“Lost-with-ee-yall. Brunel country,” I said. “There is a fabulous bridge near Plymouth, a railway station in the village, and a Roman bridge.”

St Andrews Church, Plymouth.

St Andrews Church, Plymouth.

DSC_9436 William AJ Tearle memorial St Andrews Church PlymouthSt Andrews Church was in the very centre of Plymouth and overlooked a bombed-out church lower down the same hill. The firefighters memorial was a brass plaque mounted on the wall in a small chapel. It was deeply moving. Every man listed had died fighting fires in Area 19 (Plymouth) during WW2. Tearle, W. A. J. was clearly visible at the bottom left.

The outside of the chapel was lined with several small cabinets containing large books of people’s names; victims of both wars.Two of the volumes were of National Roll of the Great War. I asked a churchwarden if I could see the contents and he gleefully brought me the key. The books were beautifully printed on stiff, cloth paper, but there were no Tearles in them. Another cabinet had a hand written volume of remembrance for the Merchant Marine. I looked for Louisa nee Lees, but again, there were no Tearles. We spent the rest of the afternoon on Plymouth Hoe, examining all the monuments on Monument Hill, including those of the Crimean War and the Boer War. The Plymouth Naval Memorial took the longest, because out of sight of this view, below, is another huge semi-circle of names. There were no Tearles.

Plymouth Naval Memorial

Plymouth Naval Memorial

The following morning we arrived in Lostwithiel; it was a voyage of about 20 miles and the roads that William had traveled to fight fires in Plymouth would not have been as good as the one we had driven on. How did he manage it? It was raining heavily. We met Gillian Parsons. “I’ll show you around the village and then I’ll take you to meet Victor. First, though, is the museum.” We walked down an alley near the river. “This is the Fowey River,” she nodded towards the building on the other side, “and the big building is Brunel’s warehouse. The other buildings were part of the railway station, but have been converted to apartments. Brunel’s building is untouched.”

“The railway?” I asked.

Lostwithiel Museum

Lostwithiel Museum

“We are on the line from Paddington to Penzance via Plymouth,” she said. “It wasn’t dug up by Dr Beeching so it still works.” She stopped. “Here is Fore St. It used to be called High St, but not now. Mind you, it still is the high street.” She unlocked the door of the museum. “I’m afraid you can’t take any photos,” she said, “but this is the very first Lostwithiel fire engine, given to us in 1716 by Lord Edgcumbe. Alongside it are the bellows from the smithy.”

I looked at the tangle of wooden spars and wheels. It was like something out of a storybook that had suddenly come to life. The fire appliance was tiny, and obviously horse-drawn. How on earth did it ever put out fires? There was no tank; where did the water go? “It delivered men to the fire, not water,” she said. “When they got there, they fought the fire with buckets and beaters.”

“When I first heard about the Lostwithiel Fire Service,” I said, “they mentioned a horse-drawn fire appliance called the Loveday. Is this it?”

“No,” she said. “That was the third appliance the service owned. It was bought in 1904 and was definitely our most famous. The Loveday was named after her daughter by the then mayoress of Lostwithiel and this building was the old fire station that the Loveday set out from for any of the village fires. The new fire appliance was a trailer pump unit, drawn by a lorry, which was garaged in Bridgend. It’s only just up the hill so the men did not have far to go to get it.” She opened a drawer and showed me a remarkable photograph.

William Tearle 1890 right rear with the Lostwithiel Fire Service team

William Tearle 1890 right rear with the Lostwithiel Fire Service team.

“Here is the Loveday,” she said, “a steam-powered, horse-drawn pump. By late 1939, shortly after this photo was taken, the National Fire Service was formed and we took delivery of our new appliance.”

I studied the picture with William, marked with a cross, sitting proudly at the front of his beloved fire engine. “The Loveday was a Merryweather appliance, quite well known in London, where they also had self-propelled versions. Ours may have been horse-drawn, but it still put out fires and it still saved lives,” said Gill.

“What happened to it?”

“Victor said it has ended up in a museum in America,” she said a little wanly. “It’s sad that the local people did not value their treasures years ago. The new fire station is at the entrance to the town car park, it’s called B17. We had to campaign for years to get it. We are a volunteer service now, but we used to run a Green Goddess.” She waved her arm around the interior of the building. “Did you know this used to be the Corn Exchange?”

“I suppose there wasn’t a lot of corn to sell,” I said, taking in the size of the room. I am used to the St Albans building. In both cases, the telephone rendered the building superfluous to requirements.

“Upstairs was the Guildhall and it is still the council chambers.”

“The council meets upstairs?”

“It has for hundreds of years.” I looked at the squat, round form of the bellows with its long handle folded back over the top. It was a little like a small, over-fat barrel, and was possibly made of leather with a wooden plate on the top. I didn’t dare touch it. “The smithy was used until quite recently,” said Gill, “and it was sold when the last blacksmith died. Actually, I’m not sure you’d call him a blacksmith; he made wrought iron art objects rather than shoeing horses.” She smiled, “Would you like to see it?”DSC06807 William and Ellen house and smithy

On the corner of North St and Church Lane stood this unprepossessing, square three-storeyed building and next to it was a much older slate-roofed squat building with a big bay window.

“The smithy is a seventeenth-century building and you can see its double doors, including this half-door. The last blacksmith made the sign above the door.”

William Tearle 1890 in the smithy at Lostwithiel.I looked closely at the sign “LOSTWL SMITHY” and the vents in the roof. “It’s a private dwelling,” she continued, “and not connected to the house any more, but that’s where your William worked, and the house on the corner was where he and Ellen and their children lived.”

She produced another picture. “Here’s a photo Victor loaned me which shows William at the smithy.” I looked at the picture and the building in front of me. I could see the opening to the forge, now covered by a bay window, and I could see the main door fastened back against the left-hand wall, with the business sign just visible above it. “There was more than one smithy in Lostwithiel,” she said, “but this used to be quite a hub of village life. William was close to the high street and used to make horseshoes in a variety of sizes and hang them in the smithy ready for use. If someone turned up unexpectedly, William could always find shoes to fit. He gave a very good service, too. When he shod a horse he cleaned each foot, trimmed it and polished it so that the owner, when he paid, felt he had received a lot for the price he paid. In winter, William had one of the few warm places in town, so that anyone with time on his hands, and a word to spare, would drop in on the smithy and have a nice conversation, while he warmed up with his back to the forge!”

“How much did he charge?”

“For shoeing horses? In the 1930s I should think around three shillings per horse.” I thought about it. “In 1960, my dad said to me it would make all the difference to him if he was earning five pounds a week. So seven horses a day would be a guinea and six days a week would be six guineas. He’d have to line them up, wouldn’t he?”

Gill smiled, “Would you like to see the cemetery now?” DSC06826 Ewart cleans Williams headstone LostwithielWe opened the gate to the Restormal Rd Cemetery and secured the lock. “I have catalogued all the headstones in the cemetery, so I really do know everyone here,” said Gill. “The churchyard was closed a long time ago and for a while this was a kind of churchyard extension, kept tidy by the sexton. These days, it is owned by the council, and they maintain it.” She led us down a cleanly mown strip of grass, slippery in the wet. “There is the headstone,” she said. “It has been moved for some renovations to the cemetery, so I am not sure where the grave actually is.” I cleaned the headstone the better to read the inscription.

DSC06828 Detail on William Tearle headstone Lostwithiel“That’s lead lettering in Lostwithiel granite,” said Gill.

I stood up and took a pace back to see the headstone sitting in the grass, glistening in the rain and surrounded by dancing spring flowers. Each of us stood for a moment, reading the inscription and thinking of what had brought us together in this place and at this time. “I’ll take you to see Victor now,” said Gill. “I promised Mavis we’d be there by 1pm.”

It wasn’t far from the Restormal Rd Cemetery to Victor’s and from their cheery wave we could see we were well received. Gill, pictured on the right with Elaine, introduced us to Victor and Mavis and left.

“What a lovely lady,” said Elaine. “The museum is lucky to have her; she went so far out of her way to help us today.”

Mavis had put lunch on the table for us and while we ate Victor showed us the relics his father had left behind, and told us the story of his life. “Here’s a picture of the family,” he said.

Tearle family album Myrtle Victor Raymond Hambly T Ellen Rosina nee Hambly Frederick Hambly T William Alfred John Olive 1927

He carefully lifted a small sepia print from the mantelpiece and pried off the back of the frame, the better for me to see it.

“He was born and bred in Brentford, London,” he said, “and he had two sisters; Myrtle and Olive. That’s Myrtle standing on the left, then me, Victor Raymond Hambly Tearle sitting on my mother’s knee. Her name is Ellen Rosina nee Hambly. Standing in the middle is my brother Frederick Hambly Tearle, then my father William Alfred John Tearle, then Olive.” He looked up.

“But there’s one missing – ten years after this photo, my mother had a younger brother for everyone, whom she called William. He was a quantity surveyor and yard foreman for Churchill and Johnson, a building firm in Basildon. He went there to live with Myrtle and Olive. He was killed in a lorry accident near Luton and he is buried in the Leyndon cemetery near Basildon.” He looked at me carefully. “He was only 7yrs old when Bill (my father, William; they always called him Bill) was killed.” He continued, “Myrtle was born in 1916 and she married Donald Jones in 1939. Now, Olive was born in 1920 and she married Alf Mitchell. Fred, he married Evelyn and I was born in 1925 and I married Joan Goodman in,” he thought for a moment, “1947/48/49. She died of breast cancer when she was only 34yrs.” He looked intently at the photo as if to drag from it some insight into these family tragedies. He scanned the photo and his eyes stopped on the picture of his gently smiling father.

“He became a blacksmith in Brentford, and he joined the Royal Horse Artillery to fight in the Great War. They sent him to Cornwall and he was carting gunpowder from Trago Mills. That’s how he met my mother. They married after the war in Braddock Church and they lived in Taphouse, then in Sandylake Cottage just out of Liskeard, then they came to Lostwithiel and moved into the house on the corner of Church Lane. My father set up the smithy in that little building alongside the house. It had five bedrooms, so when my grandparents came to live with us, it was a good thing the house was a big one. My grandfather, William, was an employee of the Greater London Council. My father wanted me to become a blacksmith like him, but I joined Coop and Brewers the local bakers, who were also my father’s best customers. I took an apprenticeship with George Brewer.”

“My father worked with the Loveday, you know,” he said. “He joined the Lostwithiel Fire Brigade in the 1920s and it may be in a museum now, but he fought fires with it. In those days, the brigade was owned by the council, and they supplied the uniforms, but the men had to buy their own trousers. That museum you went to was the Fire Brigade building. In 1939 the Loveday was retired and there was a new fire pump, which was mounted on a trailer and drawn by a lorry. That was the time when the National Fire Service was formed and my father became Section Leader Tearle. They would call him the Station Manager now. During the Plymouth Blitz, the men worked during the day, then they’d get the call at night to fight fires in Plymouth. He would take the fire engine to Saltash – you’ve seen the Brunel Bridge?”

I nodded.

“It’s a railway bridge, no way across for a vehicle. So they loaded the fire unit – lorry and trailer – on to the ferry and crossed the river that way. In those days the ferry was drawn across the river by chain. My father was in command of the fire brigade and he would work all night long and then come home, and have to work all day in the smithy as well.”

He had come to the hard part. He put down the picture. “The lorry had the ladders on it and the trailer with the pump got pulled along behind. The men sat up on the lorry amongst the ladders. The lorry fell into a bomb crater and my father was thrown out onto the road, with the ladders falling on top of him. He was taken to Bodmin hospital and died there 4 days later. Peritonitis.”

“Let me show you what kind of son he was.”
DSC_9581 Present from France from William for his fatherVictor opened the glass door in the cabinet behind me and brought out two small objects, a cutlass and an anvil. “Bill brought home the  knife and the anvil from Calais after WW1. They DSC06832 Present from William to his fatherwere made in France. The cutlass blade says “Souvenir of Calais” and Bill had the handle engraved “To my dear father.”

I tried to distract him, “What did you do in the war?”

“I joined the Royal Navy as a baker on the HMS Onslow. Fred joined the navy, too, as a petty officer shipwright. One of my best friends, also a baker’s mate, was on the HMS Exeter. He died when she was torpedoed. My first wife, Joan, was a WREN.”

“I saw the Exeter on the Plymouth Naval Memorial, I said. “Your friend’s name would be there.”

“The Onslow was Cap’n Dee’s destroyer,” said Victor, resuming, “and it was sold to the Pakistan government after the war, to help form the Pakistan Navy. She was torpedoed, too, when I was working on her, but the torpedo didn’t explode. Do you know what that’s like?” He pointed to his left, “The officers’ quarters are aft,” he waved to his right, “and the rest of the crew is for’ard, but the kitchens are amidships. That means we sit above the magazine. When you are torpedoed in the magazine there is a hell of a big bang.

We heard the torpedo hit, then later we heard it explode, but out to sea on the other side of the ship. I can’t tell you how relieved we were. We worked the North Atlantic route guarding convoys taking supplies to the Russians from Scapa Flow. I have a service medal given to me by the Russians but I wasn’t allowed to wear it until quite recently because of the Cold War.

After the war, we were part of the escort that took the King of Norway back to Oslo. We were met by a fleet of little boats, some of which had been three days at sea, waiting for us.”

Victor’s service record below includes his citation from the Norwegians.DSC06829 Victor Tearle and citation

And on the right are his service medals.DSC_9607 Victors medals

Below is a recent medal from the Russians celebrating sixty years since the Russian relief supply convoys first operated.

DSC_9610 Victors Arctic Convoy medal

“Victor,” I said, “Your grandparents came to live with you in Lostwithiel. Did they die here?”

“Oh, yes, and I can show you where they are buried in the Restormal Rd Cemetery. Would you like me to take you there?”

I would be delighted, but first a little caution. “It’s raining and underfoot is very slippery. With steel replacement knees, are you going to be safe doing this?”

“If I’d wanted the safe option all my life, I wouldn’t have joined the navy,” he said shortly. “I’ll cope.”

We drove round to the cemetery and Victor opened the gate, clipping the latch back. “Over here, the third site from the gate.” He looked around. “I thought there used to be a headstone. There has been some work done in this cemetery and either they have removed it, or perhaps there never was one.”

DSC_9617 William and Elizabeth Ann Tearle unmarked grave Lostwithiel

Above is the unmarked grave of William 1863 and Elizabeth Ann Tearle in the Restormal Rd Cemetery. The site itself is between the two graves in the foreground. We stood for a moment and paid our respect to the unmarked grave. We carefully walked down the mown strip and stopped at William’s headstone. “It’s not very well maintained,” said Victor, “and the council is saying that all memorials that are unsafe in their view will be removed. There are a few that have been pushed over, a few that have fallen over and a few that are in poor condition. I would rather they restored the memorials than simply carted them away. What a loss!”DSC_9620 Victor Tearle stands next to his fathers grave Lostwithiel

We stood at William’s headstone silently, each with our own thoughts. “When they put in this path, I reminded them that it ran right over Bill’s grave, but it’s done now, so what can I do?”

“The grave is under the path?”

“Yes. They have moved the headstone a little and it’s not lined up properly, but right here, underneath the path and at right angles to it, is my father’s grave. You know he was the only man in the Lostwithiel Fire Service to be killed in the Plymouth blitz? And he was only 51.”

Myrtles Wedding to Donald Jones with Lostwithiel Fire Brigade honour guard Cornish Guardian No 429

We returned to Victor’s house and he rummaged in a drawer in his lounge for a moment. “You won’t have seen this,” he said. “It’s one of several pictures of my sister Myrtle’s wedding in 1939. The Lostwithiel Fire Service turned out for her guard of honour. My father was so proud of that. The fire service was part of the National Fire Service then and they had their standard uniform – mind you, they still had to buy their own trousers. They were right pleased with their new fire engine, too. You know Myrtle joined the Fire Service after Bill died? That young chap there is Donald Jones. Myrtle and Olive went to Basildon and ran a transport company and it was when my younger brother William joined them that he was killed in the lorry accident.”

“I have a little present for you, now, Victor,” I said, and I lay out on the table the six pages of the hour-glass chart that I had printed of the branch of William 1863 of Toddington. “Your grandfather was a Toddington man. These days it’s a trucking stop, but many Tearles have come from there.” I pointed to William 1863. “There’s your grandfather, with Elizabeth Ann of Falmouth. Did you know her maiden name, by the way?”

“No,” he said slowly, “I never heard it.”

“It’s there for you now: Elizabeth Jane Cox. And there’s your father, William Alfred John Tearle, who has married Ellen Hambly. This is a history chart so we don’t keep it up to date with births later than about 1920.”

He nodded and scanned William’s family, “Auntie Lizzie, Ellie and Violet. She never married, you know, Violet; she ran Waylet’s cafe on the main arterial into Southend. Aunt Ellie married a chap called Colbeck. He had lost a leg in WW1. They came to Lostwithiel from Putney when I was about seven years old and took in foster children with mental problems. Aunt Lizzie was the manageress of Lyons corner shop in the centre of London. You know I can’t remember her husband’s name. He was killed during the War. Where are you?”

I said, “There are your great-grandparents, John Tearle and Maria nee Major. You can see that John was born and bred in Toddington, as well as your grandfather. Beyond them are William Tearle and Catherine nee Fossey and it was he who made the jump from Stanbridge, where the family originates, to Toddington.”

Victor examined the chart, “Born Stanbridge, died Toddington.” He counted on his fingers, “William, William, John and William; so four generations in Toddington.”

I nodded. “The last William, see how his father is Richard? His wife, Elizabeth, had her first child at 18yrs old in 1796 and her last child, possibly twins, in 1823. Thirteen children in all, and we don’t know how many died as stillbirth or as infants.”

Mavis gasped, “Thirteen children over 27 years.”

“You can see that you are descended from William, a son of Richard and Elizabeth, and I am descended from Thomas, William’s brother. Richard and Elizabeth are our common ancestor. I may be a distant cousin, but we are both members of the same family.” I traced his tree back to John 1610.

“1610,” said Victor. “That’s a while ago.”

“I have some more,” I said and pulled out the 1891 Toddington census return. “Here’s your father, William, just one year old, and you can see in the right margin that he was born in Toddington. Here’s your grandmother Elizabeth Ann, born in Falmouth.” I took out the 1901 Toddington census and he examined it intently. “Here’s your father, now 11 years old and your grandfather, a carrier. For whatever reason, he has left his London job and come to work in Toddington for at least eleven years. A trucking man, too. You can see they have come from London because Elizabeth, Eleanor and Violet are all shown as born in the registration district of Acton, a London address. We can’t always account for everything, but we document what we find.”Victor and Mavis Tearle, Lostwithiel.

Victor and Mavis Tearle, Lostwithiel, 2009.

Over our last cup of tea, he gave me a piece of advice – how to eat a Cornish pasty. “You put the crimped edge into the palm of your hand and start at the pointed end. That way you can fold down the paper bag as you eat it and the pasty will hold the hot gravy in until you make your way down to it. Don’t forget, I’m a baker so I know. Next time you come here, let me know a little more in advance and I’ll make you some pasties. Mavis and I often do for family gatherings and she’s a very good pastry cook.”

I stopped for a moment. “You put the ingredients into the pastry and then cook the pasty? I thought you cooked the ingredients in a pot, like a stew.”


“No!” they said in unison. Victor said, “In the old days you would take your pasty in your pocket with you, all nice and hot, and keep your hands warm on cold winter mornings.”

We collected our gear and loaded it into the car while we thanked Victor and Mavis for their hospitality and generosity. We had met, one way or another, three generations of the Toddington Tearles. William 1863 and his wife Elizabeth Ann nee Cox, from Falmouth, had joined William 1890,  the blacksmith and firefighter and his wife Ellen nee Hambly, here in Lostwithiel after he retired from local government. William’s family included Victor, the third generation in Lostwithiel, their grandson and son respectively. I had learnt a great deal about William and his family, not the least because I had met Victor and seen the influence that William had had on him. He is a man of deep conviction and solid humanity. A salt of the earth man, a working man. A man we can be proud of. From the tantalising fragment Richard had supplied, we had uncovered a story of bravery, commitment, patriotism, loyalty and family pride.

Our last view of Lostwithiel - their new fire station.

Our last view of Lostwithiel – their new fire station.

 

DSC_1430 Firefighters National Memorial at St PaulsWe went to London to see the Firefighters National Memorial and to record the additional plaque with William’s name. The memorial stands across the road from St Pauls Cathedral, on the walkway approach to the Millennium Bridge.

It already has hundreds of names on it, from firefighters killed in the line of duty fighting fires throughout Britain during WW2. Since William was killed under just such circumstances, then it is right that he is remembered along with the others. We were pleased to see that his bravery in running towards a fire when everyone else was evacuating, and the sacrifice he made in the execution of his duty, has finally been acknowledged at a national level.

DSC_1475 William Tearle on Firefighters National MemorialThe recently added plaque is near the ground but very easy to find. Here is a detail of the plaque with William’s name clearly legible.

The night of 26/27 April 1941 was in the middle of what was to be called the Plymouth Blitz. William was critically injured racing to a fire in Devonport, and died in Bodmin Hospital on 1 May 1941, hence the two dates that Tracy had found.  

We are very grateful to the staff and researchers of the Lostwithiel Museum for uncovering William’s story, and for their actions in ensuring that William was remembered for the work that had cost him his life.

Post script

I have uncovered a potted, but detailed, History of the HMS Onlsow, part of a much larger piece on the ships of the Royal Navy written by Lt Cdr Geoffrey B Mason RN (Rtd)

* After the allied landings in Normandy (operation NEPTUNE) in May 1944, the Onslow was leader of a flotilla ordered to patrol the English Channel to keep secure the Allied hold of the French coast. The torpedo strike Victor recounted above happened on 18 June 1944.

* On 5 June 1945 the Onslow (and others) escorted the HMS Norfolk to Oslo, taking home the Norwegian king, for which there have been celebrations in Trafalgar Square every Christmas since.

* HMS Onslow was deployed by the Pakistan Navy as the TIPPU SULTAN until 1957, being returned to Royal Navy duties as an anti-submarine frigate in 1960. She was finally taken off service and scrapped in 1980.

* HMS Exeter was one of the fleet, which included the New Zealand cruiser the HMS Archilles, that famously won the Battle of the River Plate, in Dec 1939. There is a wonderful picture of the huge amount of damage she sustained during this battle. She was then engaged in the Battle of the Java Sea with the Australian Navy against the Japanese and after a great deal of fighting during February, was finally sunk by torpedo on 1 March 1942. This was a towering warrior of a ship and a true friend of the ANZACs.

Ewart Tearle, May 2009

Epitaph:

August 2016

I received a very tearful call from Mavis in September 2011 to say that Victor had died, and Elaine and I determined then that we would visit Mavis, see Victor’s grave, and pay our respects to his memory, as the last chapter in this story. In these August holidays we have visited Lostwithiel and made good our intention. Mavis was delighted to see us and coincidentally we met Vivienne, Victor’s eldest daughter.

The road to the Lostwithiel cemetery is as steep a climb as a car can be coaxed. We looked for Victor’s grave, but found that he had been buried with his first wife.

Here is their grave:

Grave of Joan and Victor Tearle

Grave of Joan and Victor Tearle

Here is the text on each of their headstones:

Headstone of Joan Tearle nee Goodman

Headstone of Joan Tearle nee Goodman

Headstone for Victor Tearle

Headstone for Victor Tearle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

and here is the view to their grave from the cemetery gate.

Joan and Victor Tearle grave location from Lostwithiel cemetery gate

Joan and Victor Tearle grave location from Lostwithiel cemetery gate.

You can see the vase of flowers in the middle ground on the left diagonal from the front headstone.

I cannot overstate the admiration I have for Victor, and for his father, William AJ Tearle. Mavis said that at heart Victor “was just a Cornishman,” and if that means he was a generous, full-hearted man, with a love of life and a deep appreciation of his obligations, then we can leave that thought as his epitaph.

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.

21Feb/16

Jeffrey Parkhurst Tearle 1914, Lebong, India (2/Kings Own Lancs)

Jeffrey Parkhurst Tearle 1914, Lebong, India

I was struggling to identify this chap, too. Here is his service record from CWGC
Name: TEARLE, JEFFREY PARKHURST
Initials: J P
Nationality: United Kingdom
Rank: Serjeant
Regiment/Service: King’s Own Royal Regiment (Lancaster)
Unit Text: 2nd Bn.
Date of Death: 21/11/1941
Service No: 3709500
Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead
Grave/Memorial Reference: 12. D. 23.
Cemetery: KNIGHTSBRIDGE WAR CEMETERY, ACROMA

Knightsbridge War Cemetery is located 750 metres south of the main road from Benghazi to Tobruk, about 25 kilometres west of Tobruk. Jeffrey was killed fighting Rommel’s forces in North Africa. But this did not tell me who he was. I checked Roll of Honour:

Branch at death Infantry
Branch at 1/9/39 Infantry
Regiment, Corps etc The King’s Own Royal Regt (Lancaster)
Surname Tearle
Christian Name(s) Jeffery
Initials etc. J P
Rank Serjeant
Number 3709500
Born India
Residence Cheshire
Died Date 21/11/1941
Theatre of War Middle East

I could find no Tearle born in India, so this story had to wait. Then Mavis sent me this on 05/08/2007:
“A friend found this on an Army Marriages index. Tearle, Samuel H. – Parkhurst – Station: Lebong, India. 1913. Also Jeffrey P. Tearle born 1914 Lebong. This would be the son of Samuel Tearle and Dorothy Parkhurst.”

I have not yet found where their daughter Geraldine was born but believe she was born around 1919.

Mavis then went one step further she asked the King’s Own Royal Regiment Museum, Market Square, Lancaster about Jeffrey, and his father Samuel Hugh Tearle 1899, Marlow. The response was truly remarkable:

” Samuel Hugh Tearle is listed in our records, he probably enlisted in around 1909/10. He appears to have been posted to the 2nd Battalion after basic training at the Regimental Depot at Bowerham Barracks, Lancaster. He is recorded as number 10220 with the rank of Sergeant in 1915 when he arrived in France. He is recorded as the Supply Sergeant of C Company, of the 2nd Battalion. He landed in France on 15th January 1915 and thus would have received the 1914-15 Star along with the British War and Allied Victory Medals. He was commissioned as 2nd Lieutenant, from Sergeant, on 30th March 1917 and was promoted Lieutenant on 30th September 1918. It would appear that he spent a period in 1919-20 working for the War Office. I have no further details. The records show that between 1939 and November 1944 he served with the 6th Battalion of the King’s Own.

His son, Jeffrey Parkhurst Tearle, is recorded as having enlisted into the King’s Own Royal Regiment on 16th June 1930. He appears in a 1936 photograph of the 1st Battalion ‘Sons of the Regiment’ at Wellington Barracks, India. He is recorded as having been killed in action, with the rank of Sergeant, on 21st November 1941 and is buried at Knightsbridge War Cemetery, Libya. Clearly he was killed in action at Tobruk. There is more information on our website concerning both the First and Second World Wars, including information on Tobruk and photographs of the regiment.

We have nothing futher on Sgt J P Tearle, but is may be possible to find more by contacting the Army Personnel Centre in Glasgow. Their details are on the links page of our website. They issue information to the next of kin and charge a fee. I would suggest that if there are details of marriage and children they would hold them. We have no record of marriage or children, which for some soldiers would appear in the Regimental Journal. In this case I can confirm that there is nothing listed.”

Incredibly, they sent a photograph.

Mavis said: “Attached is a photograph of Jeffrey Parkhurst Tearle received from the King’ Own Regiment Museum, Lancaster. It was taken on St. George’s Day the 23rd April 1936 at Wellington Barracks in India.The caption reads 1st Battalion Sons of the Regiment. Jeffrey Tearle is in the middle row fifth from the left (indeed he is the middle soldier.) Jeffrey looks so much like my father.”

Sons of the Regt 1936 Jeffrey Parkhurst Tearle in Wellington Barracks India

Sons of the Regt 1936 Jeffrey Parkhurst Tearle in Wellington Barracks India

Jeffery’s parents were Samuel Hugh 1889 of Marlow and Dorothy Kate nee Parkhurst 1889 of Fulham. They were married in 1913 in Lebong, India. Samuel is featured in our WW1 Campaign Medals list:
Tearle, Samuel Hugh
Corps: Royal Lancaster Regiment
Regiment No: 10220
Rank: Serjeant.

Jeffrey Parkhurst Tearle is a son of Samuel Hugh Tearle 1889 and Dorothy Kate Parkhurst. His grandfather was Enoch 1841 of Stanbridge and Elizabeth nee Jones. Enoch’s parents were Abel 1810 Stbg and Martha nee Emmerton and you can see their banns on 9 Jul 1833 in Stanbridge. Abel’s parents were  William 1769 of Stanbridge and Sarah nee Clark. So this family is on the branch of Joseph 1737.

21Feb/16

Alfred John Carter Tearle 1901, Cuerdley, Lancashire, UK (CMP)

Alfred John Carter Tearle 1901, Cuerdley, Lancs.

Here is Alfred’s military record from the CWGC
Name: TEARLE, ALFRED JOHN
Initials: A J
Nationality: United Kingdom
Rank: Lance Corporal
Regiment/Service: Corps of Military Police
Age: 40
Date of Death: 16/09/1941
Service No: 2689215
Additional information: Son of George and Minnie Tearle; husband of Kathleen Violet Tearle, of Harwell, Berkshire.
Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead
Grave/Memorial Reference: 1. A. 6.
Cemetery: MALBORK COMMONWEALTH WAR CEMETERY

Here is a note from CWGC: “Malbork (formerly Marienburg) is a town on the River Nogat located in the north of Poland to the south-east of the city of Gdansk (Danzig), on the main road 50, and the cemetery is located to the west of the town.” And sadly –  “The cemetery also contains the MALBORK MEMORIAL, commemorating 39 First World War casualties buried in Heilsberg Prisoners of War Cemetery.”

It took me a  long time to find Alfred’s story because his parents – George and Minnie – didn’t mean anything to me. Quite by chance I saw his marriage on Ancestry I and sent off for the certificate.

Marriage to Kathleen V Wood
Name: Alfred J C Tearle
Year of Registration: 1925
Quarter of Registration: Jan-Feb-Mar
Spouse’s Surname: Wood
District: Hertford
County: Hertfordshire
Volume: 3a, Page: 1021

His father was Alan George Tearle and that meant a lot, plus of course Kathleen Violet Tearle was mentioned on Alfred’s military record. Now I knew exactly who he was. Alan George was a son of Jabez 1836 Dagnall and Elizabeth nee Brown. John L Tearle tells the story of Jabez in his book Tearle, A Bedfordshire Surname, so Alan George, and Alfred, are related to him.  All are descended from Fanny 1780, so they are on the branch Thomas 1737. Alfred is also the uncle to a family of Canadian Tearles.

Here is his birth certificate:
Name: Alfred John C Tearle Year of Registration: 1901  Quarter of Registration: Jan-Feb-Mar  DISTRICT: Prescot  County: Lancashire  Volume: 8b  Page: 691

Just to give you a flavour of the events, here is the family through the Victorian censuses.
1871 = Jabez 1836 Dagnall Elizabeth 38 William Brewer 8 Allan George 6 John Henry 3 in Hindley Lancs
Jabez has married a Wigan girl and she is working as a DressMaker.

1891 = Alan George Tearle 1864 Wigan Amelia 27 William Brewer 18m in Stockton on Tees
We know from Alfred’s military record that Alan George is usually called George, and his wife is referred to as Minnie.

1901 = Allan George 1865 Wigan Amelia 37 William Brewer 10 John Lawrence 9 Elsie May 5 Allan Brown 2 Alfred John Caster 3m in Cuerdley Lancs
We now meet Alfred John and find out that his full name is Alfred John Carter Tearle. I know nothing of his military record, but we have uncovered a terrible story – Alfred died as a prisoner of war in a POW camp near Gdansk, in Poland.

When we visited Malbork, this is what we found:

Malbork Commonwealth War Cemetery general layout

Malbork Commonwealth War Cemetery general layout

Malbork Commonwealth War Cemetery showing page from Cemetery Register

Malbork Commonwealth War Cemetery showing page from Cemetery Register.

Malbork Commonwealth War Cemetery headstone of A J Tearle

Malbork Commonwealth War Cemetery headstone of A J Tearle.

Malbork Commonwealth War Cemetery inscription on headstone of A J Tearle

Malbork Commonwealth War Cemetery inscription on headstone of A J Tearle.

A little further out of town was the sobering memorial to the inmates who were victims of the POW camp:

The memorial to the - unnamed - WW2 victims of Stalag XXB POW camp Malbork

The memorial to the – unnamed – WW2 victims of Stalag XXB POW camp Malbork.

And a plate from the wall of the camp itself:

Plate for Stalag XXB POW camp Malbork

Plate for Stalag XXB POW camp, Malbork.

21Feb/16

Raymond John Tearle 1916, Luton, UK (RAFVR)

On the War Memorial outside the Town Hall in Luton are the memorials to two Luton men who were killed in early 20th Century wars.Luton Town Hall and War Memorial

John Tearle 1849 and William Underwood Tearle were two well-known 19th Century Luton Wesleyan preachers: John was also a very successful businessman. William Underwood’s son, Ronald William Tearle 1897, is in the WW1 section, and John’s grandson, Raymond John Tearle 1916, is in the WW2 section.

WW2 names War Memorial Luton RJ Tearle

WW2 names on War Memorial, Luton: R. J. Tearle.

Here is Raymond’s service record from the CWGC:
Name: TEARLE, RAYMOND JOHN
Initials: R J
Nationality: United Kingdom Rank: Pilot Officer (Pilot)
Regiment/Service: Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
Unit Text: 206 Sqdn.
Age: 25 Date of Death: 17/05/1941
Service No: 84945
Additional information: Son of Ralph Grenville Tearle and Clarissa Jeanie Tearle, of Luton. Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead
Grave/Memorial Reference: Sec. 4. Row L. Grave 1. Cemetery: LUTON CHURCH BURIAL GROUND

This is called St Marys Cemetery by the locals.
Here is Raymond John’s headstone on a grave he shares with his parents, Ralph Grenville Tearle 1884 and Clarissa Jeanie nee Pearson.

Raymond John Tearle headstone in St Mary Luton cemetery

Raymond John Tearle headstone in St Mary Luton cemetery

Raymond died on 17/05/1941 – on 10 May that year, the House of Commons was bombed – and Dorothy Chapman of Luton said that he died while trying to force-land in Sheerness Harbour. The plane had lost its radio and was 80 miles off course when it hit the breakwater (they called it the boom) late at night, killing at least two of the crew. She says he was flying out of RAF Bircham Newton, Norfolk. He was engaged, and would have been married the following month.

The British War graves site notes this about 206 Sqdn:
“In early 1940, the unit converted to Hudsons and moved to St Eval to patrol the south-west approaches. Two years later, Fortress IIs arrived and No 206 moved to the Azores to provide convoy protection over a much greater area than had previously been available.”

I wrote to RAF Bircham and Neil Grant replied:
We do have a record of Plt Off Tearle: he is shown in Peter Gunn’s book (Bircham Newton – A Norfolk Airfield in War and Peace) as having piloted Hudson aircraft T9324 VX-N on a ‘Pirate’ patrol which failed to return and came down in the Thames Estuary on 16 May 1941. The other members of the crew are listed as Plt Off L Cooper and Sgt A G Knight. All were reported as killed.

Raymond John Tearle is the grandson of John Tearle 1849 and Louisa Cooper nee Partridge and the g-gson of George 1823 and Sophia nee Underwood. The Underwoods are a well-known business family in Luton. The parents of George 1823 were George 1785 and Elizabeth nee Willison, and the parents of George 1785 were Joseph 1737 and Phoebe nee Capp.

21Feb/16

Francis Joseph Myerscough Tearle 1923, Preston, UK (REME)

Francis Joseph Myerscough Tearle 1923, Preston, UK

Here is Joseph’s service record from the CWGC
Name: TEARLE, FRANCIS JOSEPH MYERSCOUGH    Initials: F J M
Nationality: United Kingdom
Rank: Craftsman
Regiment/Service: Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers
Age: 21   Date of Death: 28/06/1944
Service No: 5124306
Additional information: Son of James and Fanny Tearle, of Preston, Lancashire.
Casualty Type: Commonwealth War DeadGrave/Memorial Reference: VIII. J. 4. Cemetery: LA DELIVRANDE WAR CEMETERY, DOUVRES

CWGC says, “The Allied offensive in north-western Europe began with the Normandy landings of 6 June 1944. The burials in La Delivrande War Cemetery mainly date from 6 June and the landings on Sword beach, particularly Oboe and Peter sectors.” This is during Operation Overlord – the landings of D-Day and the beginning of the end of WW2. Since Joseph was killed on 28 June and the Douvre Cemetery is near Caen, then we can assume that he was in the area, helping the Allied landings. Michael Tearle of NZ wrote to me about the kinds of tasks an REME would do: “It’s highly unlikely that Francis would have worked on bridges or laying cables. The Royal Engineers were the bridge people and the Royal Corps of Signals did the telecommunications. The REME did vehicles, guns, firearms, and radio repairs in the field, and welding, fitting and turning etc at base.” He also pointed out that craftsman (Cfn) in the REME was equivalent to private in the infantry.

It seems to me that Joseph is the son of James 1883 Preston, the son of Charles and Jane nee Swarbrick and grandson of Joseph 1803 Tebworth, the founder of the Preston Tearles. This means he is on the branch Joseph 1737. My first guess was that James has married a Frances (Fanny) Myerscough, but I can’t find the marriage – or any other evidence. I sent a birth registration to the GRO, but they sent it back with a “document not found” notice.

Barbara drew my attention to the Wills index:

“Francis Joseph Myerscough Tearle or Myerscough of 14 Redmayne Street, Preston, Lancs, died 28 June 1944 on war service. Probate 6 July to James Tearle, railway employee. Estate = £933 12s 4d

When I read the surname, Tearle or Myerscough, I checked under Myerscough in the Wills indexes as well and found an interesting entry – Charles Myerscough of 230 New Hall Lane, Preston, died 18 June 1940. Admon granted on 4 Sept. 1940 to James Tearle, railway employee. Estate = £900.

Unless I’ve missed it somewhere, I cannot find a birth registration for Francis Joseph, except that he could possibly be …. Francis Myerscough registered in March 1904 in Preston.”

If Charles Myerscough had asked James to look after young Francis, then perhaps he has been adopted.

I found the marriage in Preston 1916 of James and Fanny nee Ainsworth

Name: James Tearle
Year of Registration: 1916
Quarter of Registration: Apr-May-Jun
Spouse’s Surname: Ainsworth
District: Preston
County: Lancashire
Volume: 8e
Page: 1221

These are most likely Francis’ parents as cited on his CWGC entry above, James and Fanny Tearle of Preston. What seems to have happened here, as indicated by the two wills that Barbara found, is the following: James’ friend, Charles Myerscough has asked James to look after his son, Francis, and has left £900 for James to administer on Francis’ behalf. Francis may have been formally adopted by James, but I have no evidence for this. What is certain, is that Francis has added Tearle to his name, and perhaps even Joseph as a middle name, in honour of the founder of the Preston Tearles. When Francis signed up for WW2, he has left this money in his will to James.

In 1922, James was 39yrs, so it is quite likely that his maturity would have made Charles Myerscough comfortable with leaving the affairs of his son to such a man.

17Jan/16

Norman Tearle 1919, Soulbury, UK (RN)

Norman TearleHere is his record from CWGC
Name: TEARLE, NORMAN Initials: N
Nationality: United Kingdom
Rank: Stoker 2nd Class
Regiment/Service: Royal Navy Unit
Text: H.M.S. Pembroke II.
Age: 20
Date of Death: 31/05/1940
Service No: C/KX 103452
Additional information: Son of Frederick and Deborah Tearle, of Soulbury, Buckinghamshire.
Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead
Grave/Memorial Reference: Plot 9. Row 3. Grave 17. Cemetery: OOSTENDE NEW COMMUNAL CEMETERY

Norman Tearle 1919, of Soulbury, Buckinghamshire, was killed during the Dunkirk evacuation, also known as Operation Dynamo. Although he is listed as sailing on the Pembroke II, in Chatham, Kent, that was simply his shore base, which he would have attended for training, and to which he would have returned when he was transferred from one ship to another. During Operation Dynamo he was actually on one of the “Little Ships” ferrying soldiers from the beach to the waiting transport ships. We do not know the name or type of boat he was sailing at the time. It was probably a sea-going fishing trawler, commandeered by the navy for this one purpose.

Norman’s navy service number is telling: C/KX 103452. The C/ refers to his base, Chatham, and K refers to Stokers and Mechanics, while the X indicates that he was engaged after the the new pay code of the early 1930s.

Here is a transcript of Norman’s Methodist baptism, which also helpfully tells us his birth date and both parents:

Norman, son of Frederick & Deborah of Soulbury born 26 Sept 1919 Bap 13 Nov 1919

His parents were Frederick Tearle 1875 of Soulbury and Deborah Elizabeth nee Rowe. Frederick’s parents were Richard Tearle 1843 and Elizabeth nee Ellingham and the parents of Richard 1843 were Richard 1805 of Stanbridge and Martha nee Walker, the grandparents of all the Soulbury Tearles. Richard 1805 was the son of Richard 1775 of Stanbridge and Elizabeth nee Bodsworth, and his parents were John 1741 and Martha nee Archer.

Soulbury Wesleyan Chapel

Soulbury Wesleyan Chapel

The Wesleyan Chapel is now a private dwelling, and the Roll of Honour was moved from this building to All Saints Church.

Norman Tearle on Roll of Honour Soulbury Wesleyan Chapel

All Saints, Soulbury.

All Saints, Soulbury.

We visited Oostende New Communal Cemetery, but first let me show you the reaction that Soulbury had to the death of its fine young men, including Norman.

War memorial, Soulbury.

War memorial, Soulbury.

Here is that part of the base of the War Memorial that carries Norman’s name:

Norman Tearle on war memorial Soulbury

Base of the War memorial, Soulbury

Inside All Saints Church is the Roll of Honour that was written to remember the names of all the men who were killed in both World Wars. Here is that part where Norman’s name is recorded:

Norman Tearle on honours board All Saints Soulbury

The next part of this post is possible only because of the hard work and a great deal of love, from Catherine Brunton-Green, Norman’s nice. She came to a TearleMeet with a beautifully prepared tribute to her uncle.

Catherine Brunton-Green with her memorial to her uncle, Norman Tearle.

Catherine Brunton-Green with her memorial to her uncle, Norman Tearle.

The memorial includes:

The notification of Norman's death that his parents received

The notification of Norman’s death that his parents received.

Norman's war medals

Norman’s war medals

The box that carried Norman's medals

The box that carried Norman’s medals.

Letter that accompanied Norman's medals

Letter that accompanied Norman’s medals.

And all of that was beautifully displayed:

Display in memory of Norman Tearle

Display in memory of Norman Tearle.

Here is the Oostende New Communal Cemetery. We took a bus from Ypres to De Panne and visited Edward Kefford William Tearle in De Panne Communal Cemetery, then we took the tram on the beautiful coastal route from De Panne to Oostende. The cemetery is a little tucked away, but findable with the help of the locals. We took the train back to Ypres.

CWGC Great Cross in Oostende New Communal Cemetery.

CWGC Great Cross in Oostende New Communal Cemetery.

It is, as always, beautifully laid out and maintained. In the little building behind the Great Cross there is the book containing all the names of those killed in this area, as well as a book to write a short note about or even to, the soldier whose grave you are visiting. Norman, even though he died at sea, has a headstone in this cemetery, which means his body was recovered and he was given a military burial; if not immediately, then when he was interred here.

Norman Tearle C-KX 103452 Oostende New Communal Cemetery

Norman Tearle C-KX 103452; Oostende New Communal Cemetery.

The inscription at the base of the headstone reads “To live in the hearts of those we love is not to die.”  It is a fitting tribute to a fine young man, for whom Catherine has worked tirelessly to keep his memory alive.

Finally, it is well to note that Norman is related to the other Soulbury Tearles who were killed in WW1 and WW2. I have summarised this in the article on Edward Kefford William Tearle, who was killed on the same day as Norman. Edward was killed fighting a rearguard action on the shore-side of Dunkirk to keep the Germans at bay, while Norman and his Little Ship were busy transporting British and French troops from the beach of Dunkirk to the waiting warships.

Norman is also related to Leslie James Tearle of St Albans, who was killed in France in WW1, as well as John Henry Tearle of Hertford, who was killed in Gallipoli.

All the Soulbury Tearles (including Norman) are on the branch of John 1741.

02Jan/16

Richard Elmore Tearle 1914, Pottersbury, UK

Coventry War Memorial

Coventry War Memorial

Name: TEARLE, RICHARD ELMORE Initials: R E
Nationality: United Kingdom
Rank: Civilian Regiment/Service: Civilian War Dead
Age: 27    Date of Death: 11/04/1941
Additional information: of Hare and Hounds Hotel, Bramble Street.
Son of Mr. and Mrs. John G. Tearle, of 80 Western Road, Wolverton, Bletchley, Buckinghamshire.
Died at Hare and Hounds Hotel. Casualty Type: Civilian War Dead
Reporting Authority: COVENTRY, COUNTY BOROUGH

Since Bletchley did not meant much to me (except for the Enigma machine we had visited) I concentrated on other things. Sue Albrecht of Auckland, NZ, gave me my first hint about the story of this chap. “I see that John Gates Tearle on the WW1 Cosgrove memorial married a Violet Elmore in 1913. I also see on your site that one of the WW2 casualties was a Richard Elmore Tearle. What’s the bet that Richard Elmore Tearle is John Gates Tearle’s son?”

I checked his death date for action that night and this is what Wikipedia said:

“On the night of April 8/April 9, 1941 Coventry was subject to another large air raid when 237 bombers attacked the city dropping 315 high explosive bombs and 710 incendiary canisters. In this and another raid two nights later on April 10/April 11 about 475 people were killed and over 700 seriously injured. Damage was caused to many buildings including some factories, the central police station, the Warwickshire Hospital, King Henry VIII’s School, and St. Mary’s Hall.”

Richard has sent me a little more information from a website dedicated to deaths during the Blitz and it tells us that Richard Elmore Tearle was employed as a bodybuilder at the Humber car works and that he is buried in a communal grave in the London Rd Cemetery, Coventry.

Coventry War Memorial from the gate.

Coventry War Memorial from the gate.

It’s a terrible irony, and very sad, that John Gates Tearle should survive WW1, and his son be killed in England, as a civilian, in WW2. It is now clear that he was buried in a communal grave with more than 1100 other victims of German bombing of the Coventry Blitz. By a communal grave, we mean that the Coventry Borough Council dug a large pit and the bodies of the citizens of Coventry were placed side by side and buried. There was a memorial service, but no headstones, and much haste because of the possibility of more bombing.

To mark the occasion, the Great Cross of the CWGC was erected to denote a CWGC site, and the Coventry War Memorial was built. On it, all the names of those in the communal grave were inscribed. There is also a small pocket of CWGC headstones, surrounded by a low, whitewashed wooden fence and more headstones scattered randomly around the cemetery.

Richard Elmore Tearle on the Coventry War Memorial.

Richard Elmore Tearle on the Coventry War Memorial.

John Gates Tearle 1890 Wolverhampton, married Violet Elmore in Pottersbury in 1913. His parents, Charles 1859 of Stanbridge and Lizzie nee Gates were in Wolverton (the home of the big railway workshops on the LNWR line from Euston, through Leighton Buzzard to Preston and beyond) was a Railway Platelayer. Charles was a servant for a farmer of 100 acres in Newbold around 1881, so he had obviously used his farming connections to move from Stanbridge. Perhaps it was just luck on his part that he was then well sited to take advantage of the industrialisation of Northampton, in order to improve his prospects. Charles was a son of William 1832 of Stanbridge and Catherine nee Fountain, amongst other children, whom you will see liberally scattered throughout this site. William’s parents were Thomas 1807 of Stanbridge and Mary nee Garner of Toddington, from whom my family is descended. Family Tree Maker tells me John was a 2nd cousin to my father. Thomas is a son of Richard 1773 Stanbridge and Elizabeth nee Bodsworth, and Richard is a son of John 1741. So Richard Elmore is on the branch John 1741.