Category Archives: Tearle Stories UK

From England we are able to research the history of the Tearle Family. Here we will share what we have found in our research, and our travels around England, to find Tearle sites and Tearle graves.

27Nov/16

Patrick Matthew Tearle 1873, Willenhall, Staffs

In the 1871 census of England, Ann O’Loughlan, an Irish widow 70 years old, was living in a house in Willenhall, these days a medium-sized town, but of ancient Saxon origin, nestled between Wolfhampton and Walsall, in Staffordshire. It is embedded deeply in the Black Country culture and is (perhaps, sadly, was) most famous for its locksmithing and the humpbacked men who stooped heavily in the pursuit of making them. The Yale factory was here, too. That, and the Rushbrook Farthing, a local token that could be exchanged for goods or food and was peculiar to the district. The men here were iron workers, too, tough and grizzled from working in blazing heat amid showers of sparks and wary of huge troughs of red-glowing 1000-degree iron that they towed by hand, with no protective clothing. Their best friends were the miners of iron ore and coal. Remember this, because The Black Country (which could just as easily have been called the Iron Country) made the man who is at the centre of this story.

The date of the census of 1871 would have been early April. Living with Ann was her daughter Bridget Murry, 33 years old, also a widow and also from Ireland, but she had three children with her – Mary Murry, Richard and Matthew. Not long after the visit of the census enumerator, Bridget met a bricklayer’s labourer fresh from Ireland, called Patrick Tyrls. He was born in 1836 in Roscommon, and with her children needing a breadwinner, Bridget married him. I have not been able to trace Bridget’s first marriage – there were Murrys in the Wolverhampton registration district. As you can see in the photo below, the three boys were lifelong friends.

Matthew Murry, Pat Tyrles and Richard Murry

Matthew Murry, Pat Tyrles and Richard Murry

In the 1881 census, Patrick, 45 years old, was the head of a house at 27 Walsall St, Willenhall, plying his trade of bricklayers labourer. He spelt his name Tyrles and Bridget, now 43, still had Richard and Matthew Murry with her, at 16 and 14 years old respectively, who had become locksmiths – as had most of the men in this street. Mary Murry married a local miner, William Parker, in Willenhall and was living in 14 Clarks Lane, just 3.5 miles from her mother and brothers. Patrick and Bridget’s children, Patrick, James and Bridget Tyrles, were duly noted as “Scholar”, even though Bridget was only 3 years old. Two 60-year old bricklayer’s labourers from Ireland were also living in the house, as lodgers. With the wages that men were paid in middle and late Victorian times, the woman of the house often had to have lodgers in order to help her husband’s wages last the whole week.

Mary Murry
In the 1891 census, we find out that Bridget was from County Clare, in Ireland, and Patrick (or perhaps the enumerator) was spelling his name Tyrls. I am going to concentrate on the three Murry children for the moment, so we can account for them until at least 1911. They were not in this house for the census. Mary, who had married and moved out before the 1881 census, and was now Mrs Parker, was with her family in Bulwell, Nottinghamshire. Her marriage certificate tells us her father’s name was Thomas Murry and he was a brick maker. William Parker was a coal miner. This was a difficult and dangerous job. You will remember the Davy lamp that stopped miners from being killed from ammonia and coal dust; that invention, while saving lives, also made it possible for miners to work much deeper underground. If you could dig deeper, then you had to, and the hazards multiplied. William was still mining coal in the 1911 census. He called himself a “Coal Miner – Hewer”, which meant he was cutting material from the coal face, and he had done that for no less than 34 years. You have to admire his courage. Mary had added to her family – you will remember Thomas H Parker 1880, her firstborn, now she has Bridget 1884 born in Willenhall, along with William 1886 and Mary Parker 1890 both born in Bulwell.

In the 1901 census, Mary, at 42 years old, was a “Greengrocer shopkeeper – at home” by which I take it that she has some groceries for sale outside her house, or they are living above the shop. There is no sign of Thomas H Parker, but Bridget is called Bertha and she is a “Lace Mender” while younger brother William is a “Hawker (General)”, which would indicate he had a range of things in a suitcase and went door-to-door selling them. He was self-employed. Bridget was one of the 40,000 (mostly women) employed in the Nottingham lace industry, and she did literally mend lace. However, Mary’s family had grown some more: Charles 1893, James 1895, Winifred 1896 and George 1900 were all added to the family during the previous ten years in Bulwell.

The 1911 census is the last time we see the family, and they are still in Bulwell. As I noted above, William and Mary have been married for 34 years, and William has been underground at the coal face for at least that long. Mary 1890, the lace mender, has a daughter, Marjory Parker, who was just one month old on the day. Later, she was brought up by her grandparents, and adopted the name Marjory Selby Parker, after her father, Harold Selby, who never did marry her mother. Charles Parker 1893 (whom they call Chris) followed his father underground, because he, too became a coal miner, hewer. On the day of the census James 1895 was classified as unemployed, Winifred (Winnie, of course) had also joined the ranks of the lace menders and George 1900, the youngest, was at school.

To round off Mary Murry’s story, I am told the family of William and Mary Parker, lock stock and barrel, in 1916, climbed aboard a ship bound for Canada and moved to Paris, Ontario, where they all still live. So far I have only seen William on the Laurentic in 1914 and William with James in 1916 on the Corsican, bound for Canada. I shall keep looking. Marjory Selby Parker married in Paris, Ontario, and her family is in touch with me.

 

Bridget was 52 and the two boys, Patrick and James, were 18 years and 16 respectively. Patrick was called a “file cutter”, and he was the one who cut the grooves in files and rasps, whilst younger brother James was a brass finisher. If you have sat and polished brass with Brasso, you will have noticed the powerful odour. That comes from ammonia. It was a hazardous substance in late Victorian times too, but if you had a job as a brass finisher – polishing and perfecting items made in brass – you had to breathe it all day long; and men would often die young, of horrible lung diseases. A closer look at the next page of the census reveals that this house is in Court 8, Walsall St which is a cul-de-sac of about five houses, this house must be considerably bigger than No. 27 Walsall St. There are no less than six other men in the house, all “Boarders” and then there is Bridget Mildoon, 80 years old, who is a “retired lodging-house keeper.” It would appear that Bridget Tyrls has taken over the running of a lodging house, and she and her family have moved into it. The men, ranging in age from 17 to 73 years are all single, and except for the bricklayer from Birmingham, they are all from Staffordshire; one is a locksmith, three are bricklayers’ labourers, one is a retired carter and one is a salesman.

I do not think that it is too much of a stretch to say that Bridget, Patrick and their family have gone up in the world. It is very difficult to say who might have been the lead on this promotion, but I have written about some very brave and forthright Victorian women on this site, and it would not surprise me to know that Bridget was the driving force.

In the 1901 census, Bridget was 63 and a widow, but she was still living in Court 8, which, it transpires, was two houses from St Giles Church. Her daughter Bridget was 23 years old and married to Samuel Tomlinson, 29, with a son Thomas, just 2 years old. Since the rest of the family had left, there were two more boarders: eight of them all told. They ranged in age from 20 to 55 and all of them were locals, so they were engaged in the diverse skills young men developed in Victorian Willenhall.

 

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.

31May/16

Wilfred Tearle 1896 Bramley, Yorks, UK (7/Yorks Rgt)

 

National Roll of the Great War says this of Wilfred Tearle:

 

Tearle Wilfred National Roll

Wilfred Tearle 1896 of Bramley, Leeds is the immediately younger brother of Horace Tearle 1892 of Wortley, Leeds. You will find there the common threads of their story, as well as their family history. Horace joined the Yorkshire Hussars, so the two men did not have to share the horrors of the battlefield with each other. The writers of the National Roll captured Wilfred’s story, but for some reason did not retain their copy of Horace’s, if we assume that someone told them. Both these men had a war of nightmare proportions and this is the extent of Wilfred’s: Ypres in Belgium, Albert on the Somme, being wounded twice in one battle and then in another. When you watch newsreels of WW1 soldiers running over the parapet of their trenches, charging towards the enemy (and often only walking) wearing a tin hat for protection and carrying a .303 rifle with bayonet fixed, you know that no-one in his right mind would ever do such a thing willingly, but Wilfred did it multiple times, and at some cost to himself.

 

 

If we have a quick look at the 1911 census, again.

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

you will see that Wilfred is a cloth finisher, most likely in a woollen mill, where they used combs to tease out the surface of the cloth. It is not without its dangers, in comparison with mining, but freely rotating wheels and long leather belts that swished about in the air were a constant menace. Nothing to guard them from hitting the workers, of course.

If National Roll had not written about Wilfred, I would never had known he had a military career, except for an enigmatic medals card, that awarded no medals.

Wilfred Tearle 12181, 5056 WW1 army medal rolls

He arrived in France on or about 13 July 1915 and he was finally allowed to go home in June 1919. Most other soldiers were allowed home in January or February 1919, but I suppose it may have been something to do with the conditions he signed up to that held him back, probably helping to clean up the mess in Europe. From this card, we can safely say that Wilfred was awarded the 1914/15 Star, the Victory Medal and the British Medal. The second regiment (I think it is the Irish Regiment) was a procedural transfer only. Many of the regiments that started in the Great War were so decimated at the end of it, that their headquarters were amalgamated into offices large enough to accommodate the staff needed to process the demobilisation of several million men coming back to England. I doubt that Wilfred ever met a single soldier of the Irish Regiment.

When he was finally allowed home, he married Dorothy Gladys Thornton on 14 Apr 1922, in the church and parish we introduced you to with Horace –

Wilfred Tearle Dorothy Gladys Thornton marriage 1922 Wortley Leeds

St John the Evangelist, Wortley-de-Leeds. And who should be a witness at his marriage? Horace. The two families at this wedding are working-class to the core, Wilfred is a cloth presser, his father is a miner and Dorothy’s father is a book-maker. I do not think you will find him in a shop or a factory, you will find him at the race-track and the dog-track.

Wilfred and Dorothy had just one child about whom I know very little; Wilfred Bryce Tearle, born in Bramley, Leeds in 1924 and died in Blackpool in 2003.

Wilfred’s injuries would have had a profound effect on the rest of his life. The pain of those injuries would have dogged his every move, and the nightmares occasioned by the dreadful things he had seen and done would have accompanied him to bed every night of his life. Dorothy must have been an angel.

I’m afraid I have no knowledge of when he died, the Yorkshire authorities are always changing Tearle into something else – Teale, Tearly – whatever name it might be, I cannot find it.

If anyone knows the story of Wilfred and Horace better than I do, please contact us using the email address on the Contact Us page; I would be very happy to fill out this story with much more detail.

31May/16

Henry Charles Tearle 1887, Edlesborough, UK (327th Inf Wks Coy)

 

National Roll of the Great War said this of Henry Charles:

Tearle Henry Charles RF National Roll

This man is the brother of Horace 1893 of Edlesborough, and you are welcome to compare the military history of the two men, as well as allow the two posts to share the same story of their family history. In the 1911 census, below, we can see that Henry was already 23 years old, and married. We can also see that the family had some skills: Mary 1889 and Charlotte 1897 are machinists, Horace 1893, Henry Charles and Henry’s wife Elizabeth work in a paper mill, and William Samuel 1894 is working for a blacksmith. Unfortunately, at only 46yrs old, Ellen is already a widow. We saw the marriage of John and Ellen in the story of Horace 1893, but John had died before he turned 40 years old.

1911 Ellen Tearle nee Dyer 1865 Edles Mary 22 Horace 18 William Samuel 16 Charlotte 14 Alexander 12 Elsie Violet 10 Nellie Sarah 8 Henry Charles 23 Elizabeth DiL 22 in HH - 1

 

Henry had married Elizabeth Winter on 4 June 1910:

Henry Charles Tearle 1887 marriage Elizabeth Winter Parish Ch Hemel Hempstead 1910

In comparison with his parents, whose marriage is pictured on Horace’s post, Henry could read and write, and so could Elizabeth. The Mary Tearle at their wedding was Mary 1889, Henry’s immediately younger sister. The best he could say for his job was “Labourer,” but he had a skilled job in a paper mill, at the heart of the printing industry. Unfortunately, these days there is no Card Finisher, and whatever it meant in 1911, it was given the code 811, which means Paper Manufacture – other. It is entirely likely that Horace, Henry and Elizabeth are all working at the same paper mill.

Henry went to the recruitment centre in Watford 24 May 1916 and signed up. On 9 Apr 1917 he was called up to the 3rd Infantry Works Company. He was 29 years 10 months old. He should have been in peak form. When he turned up at the testing centre in Bedford, they were not too sure. They gave him a Category Cii – a low medical grade – and they transferred him to the 327th Inf Wks Coy, with the regimental number 176875. They also filled out several forms for the purposes of opening records in his name – his wife, his family, his disabilities (none) his physical appearance and so on. He was “Posted” to a duty unit on 24 April 1917. I can find nothing in his record that says he did anything or went anywhere, but that is true of any soldier’s record when he is serving at “Home” that is, anywhere in the UK, including Ireland.

On 15 Feb 1919 he was transferred to the army reserve on Demobilisation. He was free to go home, but could be called up at any time if required. A highly satisfied form, I think, dated 7 Jan 1919 attested that on the matter of discipline “Certified no entry while serving in this Coy.” He had served in the war, and no-one had ever shot at him. He picked up the form from the No1 Dispersal Unit that allowed him to travel home, and noted that he was prohibited to wear army uniform after 28 days from 18 Jan 1919. He was allowed to wear his greatcoat, but if he handed it in at his local Post Office, they would give him £1 for it. He was free of the army, he could go back to his family and hopefully his old job, and he could tell a nice tale of his adventures.

31May/16

Horace Tearle 1893 Edlesborough, UK (RFA)

National Roll of the Great War had this to say about Horace:

Tearle Horace RFA National Roll

Horace fought in some of the bloodiest and most brutal battles of the Great War. Look at the names. Ypres (a town in Belgium, called Wipers by the soldiers who fought there) the Somme, a beautiful, gently rolling farming countryside in Pas-de-Calais, France where more than 19,000 men on the Allied side were killed on just the first day of the battle. These were vast killing fields where upwards of 500,000 men of both sides fought each other to a standstill and poured artillery fire and machinegun spite at each other in the hope that something they were doing would finally work, while their leaders tried to find an action that would finally break the deadlock. Horace joined early in the war, and survived. We know nothing about his wounds.

Horace’s parents were John Tearle 1863 of Edelsborough and Ellen nee Dyer. Here is their marriage in 1884:JOHN TEARLE marriage to ELLEN DYER Edles 1884

You can see that John could not write, but Ellen Dyer could. Ann Maria Tearle was John’s younger sister, and in 1885 she would marry the Arthur Rollings who had joined her as a witness at her brother’s wedding.

John’s parents were George Tearle 1831 of Eaton Bray, just a few hundred metres from Edlesborough. and Hannah Maria nee Janes. George’s parents were Jabez Tearle 1792 of Northall, a hundred metres across a field, and Mary nee Green. Jabez’ parents were William Tearle 1749 of Stanbridge and Mary nee Prentice. This means that Horace is on the branch of William 1749. This branch has some of the most famous Tearle names ever, including Sir Godfrey Tearle the Shakespearean and movie actor, and a long and glorious tradition of military service. Horace was in very good company. His elder brother Henry Charles Tearle 1887 had joined the Royal Fusiliers, and his younger brother William Samuel Tearle 1894 had joined the Royal Field Artillery, although much later than Horace had. Henry and Horace had received written recognition of their efforts in the National Roll of the Great War, but for some reason, William Samuel had not.

Here is the medals card that determined the service medals that Horace received:

Horace Tearle 1421, 890597 WW1 army medal rolls - 1

He would have received the medals, in the post, during 1922.

In 1919, Horace married Ethel L Lake and so far as I know, they had one child, Herbert J Tearle 1930 in Bury St Edmonds, Suffolk. Here he is in 1933, amongst other Tearle families at addresses in Hemel Hempstead:

Hemel Hempstead Directory 1933-1

The first name is probably Alexander Tearle 1898, the second is possibly Horace, the third is most likely Henry Charles 1887, but I do not know who Daisy E is.

Horace died in Dacorum (the town of Hemel Hempstead lies in the district of Dacorum) in 1979, aged 85, and we hope that in the years after the Great War, Horace was able to piece together those parts of his character that make life worth living, for himself, and for his family.

In his own lifetime, Horace saw a grateful village honour his contribution to the effort to defeat the Germans. In Studham Church, Bedfordshire, there is a Roll of Honour. The names in gold are those who lost their lives and the names in red are those who were thankfully welcomed home. Horace is listed in red:

Studham Church Roll of Honour.

Studham Church Roll of Honour.

I have reproduced here that part of the Roll that records his name:

Horace Tearle on Roll of Honour in Studham Church.

We thank Paul and Edith Tearle of Studham for bringing this to our attention, and for taking us to the church to view this most touching of memorials.

Studham Church, Bedfordshire.

Studham Church, Bedfordshire.

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.

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.