Tag Archives: St_Albans

28Mar/16

Bertie Tearle 1900, St Albans

I know frustratingly little about Bertie, but this is what I do know: he was awarded the Silver War Badge. Here is the documentation, from which we can deduce a few things:

Bertie Tearle Silver War Badge documentation

Bertie Tearle Silver War Badge documentation

Firstly, you can see that he joined the war late, but then he would, because he was only 14 when the war started. The Cause of Discharge column indicating a Paragraph 392 reason simply means that he was so wounded, he was not fit enough to be a soldier. He joined the war on 4 Feb 1918 and he is wounded beyond repair by 31 Dec 1918. He was just 19yrs.

No records from Chelsea Hospital survive for Bertie, so we cannot know the state of his injuries, nor even when he received them, but he has been in two different regiments; the King’s Royal Rifle Corps, and the Royal Fusiliers (City of London) 4th battalion and 2nd battalion. This is also the regiment that Arthur Walter Tearle joined, as well as Herbert John Tearle.

The war ended on 11 November 1918 and the 2/2 London Division was in Palestine for much of 1918, so we can assume Bertie was injured, or caught some awful desert disease, in Palestine.

We can now turn to two more sources of documentation, both reserved for Bertie’s service medals.

Bertie Tearle 60996, GS92961, GS92961 WW1 army medal rolls

Bertie Tearle 60996, GS92961, GS92961 WW1 army medal rolls

There is firstly a list of the fighting units he belonged to, and it’s worth remembering that the GS/ notation refers to a General Service soldier, and that in turn simply means Territorial and that means volunteer. He is awarded the Victory medal and the British War Medal.

Bertie Tearle Silver medal

Bertie Tearle service medal allocation documentation.

You can see that the medal card refers to this document; in the top right-hand corner is the number 4484, which is the “Page” number on the medals card. It is the Royal Fusiliers which sets out the medals to be awarded, and this was the last regiment to which young Bertie belonged.

The only other documentation I have (except for turn-of-the-century censuses) is Bertie’s entry in the National Probate Calendar of 1961.

Bertie Tearle probate

Bertie Tearle probate notice, 1961.

He still lives in St Albans, he has married, but he has no children, and he owns very little. The “effects” of £592 shown here is probably the value of his house. We do not know if he worked anywhere, and we do not know if he even walked. He has lived to 61yrs old, but that is not a great age; his sacrifice in going to war has been ongoing for the rest of his life.

Now, who was Bertie? His parents were Edward Joseph Tearle 1869 and Emma Elizabeth nee Warner. Edward grew up in the Symonside Cottages, just off Coopers Green Lane, between St Albans and Stanborough. His parents were John Tearle 1830 of Soulbury and Harriett nee Figg. Both of these parents spent time in the Hertford Workhouse, incarcerated because of debt and grinding poverty. John’s parents were Richard Tearle 1805 of Stanbridge and Martha nee Walker, the founders of the Soulbury Tearles. Richard was a grandson of John 1741 and Martha nee Archer.

Edward was a younger brother of William Francis Tearle  1857 and the uncle to John Henry Tearle  who was killed in 1915, so Bertie was a cousin of John Henry’s, and was himself the uncle to Edward Kefford William Tearle, who was killed at De Panne in WW2.

If anyone thought that moving from Soulbury to Hertfordshire would give them a better life, I do not think it really panned out that way.

13Mar/16
West Wing, Napsbury Hospital, St Albans

Herbert John Tearle 1898, Bexleyheath

Herbert was born in Bexleyheath in 1898, a near-perfect date for him to be drawn into WW1. His parents were George 1863 of Hockliffe and Elizabeth nee Clark. I do not yet have a reason for George’s move to London, but he married Elizabeth in Dartford in 1887 and in the 1911 census George and Elizabeth were living at 115 Broadway, Bexley Heath, Kent, where he said his occupation was a florist. It is likely, then that the location was a flat above a shop. When he died at 87 years old, it was in a place called The Grange, in Bloomsfield Rd, Bexley Heath, Kent. His will named his executors as Frank Tearle, Company Director, and Herbert John Tearle, Builders Merchant, so his family has followed their father’s interest in small business. His parents were Jabez 1841 of Hockliffe and Mary nee Clarke. Jabez traces his ancestry back to John 1741.

In the same 1911 census, Herbert was at school, 12yrs old.

On 22 Sep 1914, at the Hounslow recruiting office, Herbert joined the Royal Fusiliers on a Short Service attestation as “Three Years with the Colours,” unless the war lasted longer than that, in which case “you will be retained until the War is over.” This is the same London regiment that Arthur Walter Tearle joined, except that Arthur was a Territorial in the Royal Fusiliers (City of London) Regiment, and Herbert has joined the Royal Fusiliers as a regular, but none-the-less a member of a London Royal Fusiliers regiment. He said – and they believed him – that he was 19yrs old! He was 5ft 11″ (very tall for the times) with a scar on his left knee, fresh complexion, 132lbs in weight, blue eyes and black hair. He gave his religious denomination as “Congregational” but he must have picked that up in London, because his father was baptised on the Dunstable Methodist Circuit. He was given the Regimental number 4021 and he was initially inducted into the 6th Battalion.

On 5 May 1915, the eve of going into battle with the B.E.F. (British Expeditionary Force) somewhere in Europe, Herbert was instructed to write his will. It is painfully short:

“In the event of my death I give £6-6-0 (six guineas) to my mother Elizabeth Tearle and I give my remaining property to my father George Tearle.
Herbert John Tearle
No. 4021
2 Company, 3rd Battlion, Royal Fusilliers
Dover.
5-5-1915”

His service record has a number of interesting highlights, but the page below tells most of the story. You can see when he became a lance corporal, lost it, then regained it, as well as his very short stint (only 14 days) on the Western Front.

Herbert John Tearle 4021 WW1 military record p9

Herbert John Tearle 4021 WW1 military record p9

Why he was returned to Home (which could have been anywhere in England, Wales, Scotland or Ireland) I cannot fathom. The Royal Fusiliers went to Egypt in October 1915 and then Salonica in December. Herbert joined them on 6 Apr 1916. He was wounded on 27 May 1917 and returned Home. You can see that he spent some time in Napsbury Hospital, near St Albans.

West Wing, Napsbury Hospital, St Albans

West Wing, Napsbury Hospital, St Albans.

I must remind you that this Napsbury is now a village of flats, but it was originally a mental asylum, sometimes housing those who were genuinely mentally afflicted, but very often a permanent prison in which families hid away their errant daughters who had children out of wedlock. In WW1 and WW2 it was a major hospital for treating wounded soldiers, and Herbert was invalided with them. Many ANZAC soldiers owed their lives to its dedicated care; those who did not survive are buried in the Hatfield Rd Cemetery, St Albans. Herbert’s wounds were so severe that on discharge from Napsbury Hospital he was declared “No longer fit for War Service” under paragraph 392, on 1 July 1917. Herbert’s part as a soldier in WW1 was over. He was awarded the Silver War Badge:

Herbert John Tearle WW1 Silver War Badge

Herbert John Tearle WW1 Silver War Badge.

In the 1920s he was sent the 1915 Star, the British Medal, and the Victory Medal. If you review the story of Arthur Walter Tearle, you will see Herbert’s Royal Fusiliers and the 2nd, 3rd and 6th battalions written on the Cornhill War Memorial.

Now, there is an odd codicil to this story. Wounded as he was, and invalided from the army, Herbert joined the YMCA and sailed for Malta, arriving there on 10 Jan 1918, still in the heat of WW1. The hospitals of Malta tended to the wounded of two major campaigns, the Dardenelles (Gallipoli) from 25 Apr 1915 to 8 Jan 1916, and then the Salonica Campaign, when the Allies gave support to Serbia in its war with Bulgaria, from 5 Oct 1915 to 30 Sep 1918.

As far as the YMCA in Malta is concerned, it is difficult to find any documentation of their activities. However, as early as 1916, a YMCA marquee was erected for the treatment of malaria and dysentery in patients from the Salonica Campaign, in the grounds of St Pauls Camp, Hutment Hospital.

The local branch of the YMCA was not started until 1974, but it has this to say about the history of the YMCA in Malta:
Although it is known that the YMCA in Malta existed during the time that Malta was a British colony, this YMCA activity stopped when Malta became independent in 1964. It is assumed that this YMCA activity was an extension of the British YMCA specifically geared to serve the military forces then stationed in Malta.

So perhaps Herbert served at St Pauls, helping wounded servicemen and even sick medical personnel to recover, since there seems to be no other documentation on the role of the YMCA in Malta during WW1. What we do know is that Mr Herbert J Tearle, of the YMCA, received the British Medal for his work. He now has two British Medals: one for Pte Herbert J Tearle, and one for Mr Herbert J Tearle, and here is the documentation for the second medal:

Herbert J Tearle YMCA WW1, British Medal, Malta, 1918.

Herbert J Tearle YMCA WW1, British Medal, Malta, 1918.

Note:

At the time of writing the above article, I had no further information on Herbert John, but recently (2017) Hazel King has sent me the text of a family history for this branch of the Tearles, beginning with Jabez Tearle 1841, of Hockliffe, Bedfordshire. Hazel’s story is here: