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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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From vestry to altar the branch of John 1741

The origin, spelling and meaning of the surname Tearle

The origin, spelling and meaning of the surname Tearle
By Barbara Tearle
March 2016

Tearles from Bedfordshire

Most people bearing the name Tearle in England, Australia, New Zealand and Canada today can trace their descent from a family in the village of Stanbridge near Leighton Buzzard in south Bedfordshire. Some American Tearles are also descended from Stanbridge families but there are other derivations of the name Tearle in the USA.

The evidence for the name – how it is spelt and where it originates –  comes mainly from parish registers, wills, manorial documents, court cases, deeds and census returns.

The earliest records date back to the middle of the fifteenth century, where the name was spelt Terle:

  • In 1443 Richard Terle was on a jury held at Aylesbury to enquire into the ownership of the Edlesborough lands of Alice wife of John Adam (Cal IPM 21-25 H6 1442-1447 p.41)
  • and in 1444 John Terle was on a similar jury held at Leighton Buzzard into the Bedfordshire lands of Sir Walter Lucy (Cal IPM 21-25 H6 1442-1447 p.161)

These juries were standard procedure for inquisitiones post mortem – enquiries held on the death of major landholders into their property so that the King knew what dues were owed to him.  The presence of two Terles on juries in the mid-fifteenth century shows that the family was of good status locally and that they lived in the south Bedfordshire or adjacent Buckinghamshire area.

During the remainder of the fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries a succession of John Terles (with the occasional Robert Terle) are recorded as holding property in Stanbridge and – in one instance – in Marlow, Buckinghamshire.

The family continued in Stanbridge until the name died out there in the mid twentieth century.  In the intervening centuries, it spread to nearby parishes in Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire.  Eighteenth century and subsequent occurrences in north Buckinghamshire and Northamptonshire are almost certainly from the same family and they continue living there to this day.

The few occurrences in London in the early and mid-eighteenth century were of the goldsmith Thomas Tearle who was from Stanbridge but who appears to have had no surviving descendants and another family whose origins have not yet been traced.

During the nineteenth century the family spread from Bedfordshire to northern England (Preston and Liverpool in particular); Willesden in London as railway workers; south London by the latter half of  century; and a few elsewhere around the country.  The spread seems to have been due to seeking work; joining the military; entering the church; becoming teachers; taking to the stage as provincial touring actor/managers.

The nineteenth and twentieth centuries were also the period of emigration, with Tearle families going to the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

Tearles from other parts of the United Kingdom

In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the name Tearle or Tarle appears in parish and other records well away from south Bedfordshire.

Tearles in Sussex and the south coast are variant spellings of Tourle, which is an established surname in that area.   Tearle in the West country may be a variant spelling of Terrell/Tyrrell, although there appears to be a family with the name, not merely random occurrences.  Tarle, Terle or Tarles in East Anglia, Staffordshire and London are a mystery.  There are no obvious family connections between any of them and the Bedfordshire Tearles, although of course there may be a medieval connection that has not yet been uncovered. These are research projects waiting to be explored for anyone conversant with medieval sources around the country.

Tearle in Ireland

A few people in nineteenth and early twentieth century English censuses recorded that they were borne in Ireland.  One or two of them were the children of the two English actor/managers (Osmond and Edmund Tearle).  Some are children of Stanbridge-descended soldiers stationed in Ireland.  Not all the Irish Tearles have yet been accounted for.

Jewish Tearle

There is a Jewish family called Tearle which has no connection with the Stanbridge-descended family.  The Jewish family originated in two brothers, Isaac and Lewis, who came to England from Lithuania around 1900 and settled in the Jewish community in Liverpool, then Manchester.  It needs an expert in Jewish naming to know if that was the name they used in Lithuania or if it was adopted on arrival in England (though why would anyone in their right minds want to saddle themselves with a name that no-one can spell or pronounce?).  According to genealogical sources (FamilySearch, censuses, etc) there were Jewish migrants to USA about the same time called Terle.


The form Terle was the normal spelling until the middle of the sixteenth century when Tearle emerged.  For many decades the two forms, Terle and Tearle, were used interchangeably until Tearle gained the ascendancy during the seventeenth century.  While it is inappropriate to be too fussy about spelling (our ancestors weren’t), in this instance the older spelling and the change to the current one are worth noting. The best explanation may lie in other spelling changes of the sixteenth century. For example, during the same period the spelling yere was giving way to yeare and erth to earth.  What more natural for scribes to apply this model and write Tearle for Terle?

At the same time as this standard change was taking place, there were many other ways of spelling the name, probably explained by local pronunciation and phonetic spelling.  Those variations for the Stanbridge-descended Tearles in the Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire and Northamptonshire area include:

Common variants, in alphabetical order:
Tearl  (mainly in Northamptonshire)
Terl (early nineteenth century instances)
Terle  (throughout the sixteenth century in Stanbridge)

Occasional variants occurring a few times only:
Tyrell (early eighteenth century north Buckinghamshire)

Derivation and meaning

Surnames were adopted over a period of several centuries during the middle ages, stabilising into hereditary names sometime later.  In order to have a chance of determining the probable derivation and meaning of a surname, its earliest occurrence must be sought because it will be nearest to the original use and reason for adoption.

Few surname dictionaries include Tearle.  Henry Harrison in his Surnames of the United Kingdom gives a derivation from old English þearl meaning strict or severe.  This may be based on the similarity in spelling.  Barber’s more recent British Family names – their origin and meaning explains it as being from the Dutch personal name Terlet.  Given the late emergence of the spelling Tearle and the earlier spelling as Terle, the þearl explanation does not hold up to scrutiny.  Its origin should be sought in an earlier period.

What did Terle mean?  Where did it come from?

I can offer no explanation.  However a project which is examining the surnames of the United Kingdom may add something to this account and enable a stab to be made at its meaning.  The project is called FaNUK – Family names of the United Kingdom. It is based at the University of the West of England and the results of its work are scheduled for publication in 2017.  They will be published as an online database and as a new surname dictionary by Oxford University Press, Dictionary of Family Names in Britain and Ireland.  I look forward to seeing it and finding out whether it can shed light on Tearle and similar sounding names – Dearle, Hearle, Learle and Thearle.

© Barbara Tearle
March 2016


Soldiers Died in the Great War

Soldiers Died in the Great War

Collated and annotated by Ewart Tearle
May 2010

Many of these names are included in other collections on this site, however for those who came across this database on CD, here are some notes on the genealogy of each man who died, along with the link to the post wherein his story is told.

Name: Jeffrey Tearle

Birth Place: Eaton Bray, Beds
Residence: Dunstable
Death Date: 31 Oct 1914
Death Location: France & Flanders
Enlistment Location: Dunstable, Beds
Rank: Corporal
Regiment: Bedfordshire Regiment
Battalion: 1st Battalion
Number: 3/6459
Type of Casualty: Killed in action
Theatre of War: Western European Theatre

Son of George 1861 and Sarah Jane nee Horn. Brother of Frank 1898 and John Henry 1885, both of whom survived the War. William 1749.

Name: John Henry Tearle

Birth Place: Hatfield, Hertfordshire
Death Date: 29 Jun 1915
Death Location: Gallipoli
Enlistment Location: London
Rank: L/Sergeant
Regiment: Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers
Battalion: 1st Battalion
Number: 9054
Type of Casualty: Killed in action
Theatre of War: Balkan Theatre

Son of William Francis T 1857 and Sarah Ann nee Kefford. G-uncle of Edward Kefford W Tearle who was killed in WW2 while covering the withdrawal to Dunkirk. A son of the Soulbury Tearles. John 1741. See also A Visit to Gallipoli

Name: Leslie James Tearle

Birth Place: St Albans
Residence: St. Albans
Death Date: 11 Jul 1915
Death Location: France & Flanders
Enlistment Location: St. Albans
Rank: Private
Regiment: Hertfordshire Regiment
Number: 2007
Type of Casualty: Killed in action
Theatre of War: Western European Theatre

Son of Edward Joseph T and Emma Elizabeth nee Warner. Has a memorial on the St Albans War Memorial in St Peters St as well as in the foyer of the Old Town Hall. Descendant of the Soulbury Tearles and cousin of John Henry immediately above. John 1741.

Name: Alfred Edward Tearle

Residence: Watford, Herts
Death Date: 10 May 1916
Death Location: France & Flanders
Enlistment Location: Hertford
Rank: Private
Regiment: Hertfordshire Regiment
Number: 4605
Type of Casualty: Killed in action
Theatre of War: Western European Theatre

Son of Alfred George T and Minnie nee Cyster. G-gson of George 1818 and Annie nee Haws. Thomas 1737 via Fanny 1780.

Name: Rowland Tearle

Birth Place: London
Death Date: 9 Jun 1916
Death Location: Home
Enlistment Location: Northampton
Rank: Private
Regiment: Royal Army Medical Corps
Number: 55930
Type of Casualty: Died
Theatre of War: Home

Rowland Grigg Tearle, son of Elizabeth 1871 of Linslade, and grandson of John 1825 (the marine) and Sophia nee Walker. Brought up by Susannah Rogers who lived in the house close to Yardley Hastings church. He caught a dreadful trench disease and died at home. Buried with a CWGC headstone in the Yardley Hastings churchyard. His story is told in detail elsewhere on this site.

Name: Albert Ernest Tearle

Birth Place: Sutton, Surrey
Death Date: 16 Apr 1917
Death Location: Mesopotamia
Enlistment Location: Kingston-On-Thames
Rank: A/BDR.
Regiment: Royal Horse Artillery and Royal Field Artillery
Number: 46587
Type of Casualty: Died
Theatre of War: Asiatic Theatres

Son William James 1860 and Lucy Ann nee Laine. Buried in Bagdad. Grandgson of George 1809 and Elizabeth Tearle. Joseph 1737.

Name: Charles Tearle

Birth Place: Preston
Death Date: 30 Nov 1917
Death Location: France & Flanders
Enlistment Location: Preston
Rank: Private
Regiment: Loyal North Lancashire Regiment
Battalion: 1/5th Battalion (Territorial Force)
Number: 36932
Type of Casualty: Killed in action
Theatre of War: Western European Theatre

Son of Charles 1860 and Jane nee Swarbrick. Gson of Sarah 1831 and g-grandson of Joseph 1803 and Mary Ann nee Smith. A true Preston Tearle, mentioned on the headstone in Preston cemetery. Joseph 1737.

Name: James Henry Tearle

Birth Place: Paddington, Middx.
Residence: West Kilburn, Middx.
Death Date: 16 Mar 1917
Death Location: France & Flanders
Enlistment Location: Hammersmith, Middx.
Rank: Rifleman
Regiment: Rifle Brigade (The Prince Consort’s Own)
Battalion: 12th Battalion
Number: S/21464
Type of Casualty: Killed in action
Theatre of War: Western European Theatre

Son of Jonathon 1862 and Alice nee Kearns, his usual name was James Harry Tearle. Gson William 1832 and Catharine nee Fountain, hence a nephew of my g-grandfather James 1827. See also the story of the Willesden cell and Mary nee Andrews elsewhere in this Tearle Stories section. John 1741.

Name: Ronald William Tearle

Birth Place: Luton
Death Date: 4 Oct 1917
Death Location: France & Flanders
Enlistment Location: Luton, Beds
Rank: Gunner
Regiment: Royal Horse Artillery and Royal Field Artillery
Number: 141935
Type of Casualty: Killed in action
Theatre of War: Western European Theatre

Only son of William Underwood T and Mary nee Bird of Luton. Listed on the War Memorial alongside the Luton Town Hall. Grandson of George 1832 and Sophia nee Underwood, a well-known Luton family. Joseph 1737.

Name: Sidney Tearle

Birth Place: Dunstable, Beds
Residence: Rothwell, Northauts
Death Date: 13 Aug 1917
Death Location: Egypt
Enlistment Location: Hinckley
Rank: Private
Regiment: Royal Army Service Corps
Number: S4/090768
Type of Casualty: Died
Theatre of War: Egyptian Theatre

Son of William 1869 and Ellen nee Rollings. Buried in Alexandria. Grandson of George 1797 and Mary nee Hill. John 1741.

Name: Sydney Tearle

Residence: London, N.W.
Death Date: 9 Apr 1917
Death Location: France & Flanders
Enlistment Location: Edinburgh
Rank: A/L/Sergeant
Regiment: Royal Scots (Lothian Regiment)
Battalion: 9th Battalion
Number: 350354
Type of Casualty: Killed in action
Theatre of War: Western European Theatre

Sydney Thomas Tearle 1895 was working for the Caledonian Railways in Edinburgh when he enlisted, hence this odd regiment for a Hammersmith boy. There is a memorial at Glasgow station which bears his name, along with 708 others. Son of Thomas 1858 and Pamela nee Andrews. Grandson of William 1832 and Catharine nee Fountain, hence 1st cousin to James Harry above. John 1741.


National Roll of the Great War

National Roll of the Great War
This list of names and accompanying text from National Roll of the Great War was compiled by Barbara Tearle in Nov 2005.
The annotations at the end of each entry were originally written by Ewart F Tearle in Dec 2011. All the entries have now been researched and further documented, and are presented in the order of the list below.

The National Roll of the Great War was a multi-volume work, never completed, which attempted to document soldiers who fought in WW1, including the casualties. Of the 73 Tearle participants in WW1, only 17 have had their stories told in this work. I have transcribed those particular entries and ordered them firstly into nearby addresses, so we can see families and neighbours and I have added biographical details, as I know them, immediately after the entry from National Roll.

Tearle, J H, Rifleman
Rifle Brigade
Joining in 1916, he was drafted to the Western Front on completion of his training.  After taking part in several important battles, he was killed in action on the Somme on March 16th 1917.  He is buried near Guillemont, and was entitled to the General Service and Victory Medals. 45 Letchford Gardens, Willesden, London NW10

James Harry Tearle 1891 of Willesden, service number: s/21464, Rifle Brigade. He married Dorothy Amelia Victoria Browne. One of the Willesden cell, son of Jonathan Tearle of Stanbridge and Alice nee Kearns, grandson of William 1832 of Stanbridge and Catharine nee Fountain. John 1741

Tearle, S T
He joined in November 1917, and in the same year was sent to the Western Front, where he was engaged in conveying food and ammunition to the lines in the Arras, Cambrai, Vimy Ridge and other sectors.  He was demobilised in March 1920, and holds the General Service and Victory Medals. 120 Ashmore Road, Harrow Road, London W9

Sidney Thomas Tearle 1893 of Willesden, service number M/380389 RASC (MT), son of Zephaniah T and Annie nee Buckingham. Married Florence May Fuller. One of the Willesden cell. John 1741 via Mary 1803 and Jane 1844.

Tearle, G
Royal Army Medical Corps
He joined in September 1916, but owing to the loss of an eye before enlistment was unfit for foreign service.  For three years he was engaged at various stations on special duties in connection with the wounded, carrying the injured men from the boats to the hospitals.  He rendered valuable services before being demobilised in September 1919. 77 Carlyle Avenue, Willesden, London NW10

Otho George Tearle 1882 of Willesden, service number 47279, 29th Btn Middlesex Regt and 331034, 335th Lowland Field Ambulance, RAMC, who married Ellen Yule nee Rogers. He seems always to have called himself George. He was at the above address for the birth of two of his children. Son of Jonathon 1862 of Stanbridge and Alice nee Kearns and g-son of William 1832 and Catharine nee Fountain. Another member of the Willesden cell. Brother of James Harry T above. John 1741

Tearle, F J

8th Bedfordshire Regiment
He volunteered in March 1915, and in the same year was sent to France.  During his service on the Western Front he was engaged in the fighting on the Somme, at Arras, Bullecourt and Cambrai, and was wounded on the Somme during the retreat of 1918.  He was demobilised in November 1919, and holds the 1914-15 Star, the General Service and Victory Medals. Tilsworth Road Stanbridge, Bedfordshire

Frederick John Tearle 1884 of Stanbridge, son of John 1862 and Annie nee Walker. Brother of Edgar, above. John 1741.

Tearle, E
7th Bedfordshire Regiment
He volunteered in September 1914 and in the following January proceeded overseas.  He served on the Western Front and fought at Loos and the Somme, where he was wounded.  On recovery he rejoined his Battalion, and was engaged in the fighting at Passchendaele, Cambria and in the Retreat and Advance of 1918.  He was demobilised in March 1919, and holds the 1914-15 Star, and the General Service and Victory Medals. Tilsworth Road, Stanbridge, Bedfordshire.

Edgar Tearle 1891 of Stanbridge, service number 14397, Bedfordshire Regt and 590090, Labour Corps. Son of John 1862 of Stanbridge and Annie nee Walker; grandparents James 1823 and Hannah nee Phillips. John 1741.

Tearle, E G
Labour Corps
He joined in June 1918, and was shortly afterwards sent to France.  Whilst in this theatre of war he was employed on important duties with his Battalion, and was frequently in the forward areas whilst operations were in progress.  He was demobilised in October 1919 and holds the General Service and Victory Medals. 119 St James’ Road, Watford, Hertfordshire.

Edward George Tearle 1898 of Hemel Hempstead. Military serial number 643043, Recruit Distribution Training Reserve. Married Nellie Elizabeth Boultwood. Son of Edward Joseph Tearle 1874 and Jane nee Picton. This is confirmed in his next-of-kin declaration on his army attestation form. G-son of Jabez 1844 and Susannah nee Payne, g-gson of George 1818 (one of the original Watford settlers) and Annie nee Haws. Has a significant family of descendants in Australia. Cannot find him in the WW1 Medals Card Index. Thomas 1737 via Fanny 1780.

Tearle, E J
Royal Engineers
He volunteers in June 1915, and was shortly afterwards sent to the Dardanelles.  He was engaged with his unit at the landing at Suvla Bay and was wounded.  On recovery he was drafted to Egypt and served for a time at Ismailia in the Canal zone until May 1916.  He was then sent to the Western Front, and was frequently in the forward areas while operations were in progress in the Somme and other sectors.  He was demobilised in May 1919 and holds the 1914-15 Star, and the General Service and Victory Medals. 119 St James’ Road, Watford, Hertfordshire

Edward Joseph Tearle, 1874 of Watford, service number 101941, Royal Engineers, a skilled mason and son of Jabez 1844 and Susannah nee Payne. He is the FATHER of Edward George T 1898 above. Married Jane Picton.  He was 39 when he attested for the war. A Gallipoli veteran, he also received the Silver War Badge when he was invalided for sickness after his injuries. Thomas 1737 via Fanny 1780.

Tearle, E J
1st Bedfordshire Regiment
He joined in November 1916 and in the following January proceeded overseas.  Whilst on the Western Front he fought in many engagements, including those at Arras, Passchendaele, Ypres, the Somme, and was gassed near Cambrai in 1918.  He was demobilised in November 1919, and holds the General Service and Victory Medals. 22 Chapel Path Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire.

Ernest John Tearle 1898, son of Ellen Tearle 1881 before she married Harry Toms. Military serial number 31747, Beds Regt and 44700, Suffolk Regiment. G-son Jane 1856 and g-gson of John 1823 and Hannah nee Creamer. John 1741.

Tearle, H
Royal Navy.
He joined in 1918 and was posted to HMS Emperor of India. During the war his ship was engaged on special work patrolling the North Sea and other waters, and after the Armistice was employed on important duties off Constantinople.  He holds the General Service and Victory Medals and was still serving in 1920. 22 Chapel Path Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire.

Harry Edward Tearle 1900 of Leighton Buzzard, son of Ellen Tearle 1881 before she married Harry Toms. Military serial number SS119522 Navy. Younger brother of Ernest John T, above. As far as I know, neither man married. John 1741 via Ellen 1881.

Tearle, F
Joining in November 1916, he was drafted shortly afterwards to Ireland.  He served in Dublin and various other places on special transport duties with his unit and did very good work, but was unsuccessful in obtaining his transfer to a theatre of war before the cessation of hostilities, and was demobilised in September 1919. 1 Alfred Street Dunstable, Bedfordshire.

Frank Tearle 1898 of Eaton Bray, son of George 1861 and Sarah Jane nee Horn.  Military serial number M/279390 RASC Motor Transport. G-son George 1831 and Hannah Maria nee Janes. Married Selina Florence Gore. Received the Silver War Badge when invalided out for sickness in 1919. William 1749.

Tearle, J
1st Bedfordshire Regiment
He volunteered in September 1914, and was shortly afterwards drafted to France.  During his service in this theatre of war he took part in much fierce fighting, and was killed in action at the Battle of La Bassée on October 10th 1914.  He was entitled to the 1914 Star and the General Service and Victory Medals. 1 Alfred Street, Dunstable, Bedfordshire.

Jeffrey Tearle 1891 of Eaton Bray, elder brother of Frank, above. Military serial number 3/6459, 1st Bedfordshire Rgt. Parents George 1861 of Edlesborough and Sarah Jane nee Horn. Britain declared war on 4 August 1914, Jeffrey joined the army in September and was killed in France on 31 Oct 1914, according to Roll of Honour (CWGC). He must have impressed because even in this short time he had been promoted to corporal. William 1749.

Tearle, H
Royal Field Artillery
Volunteering in June 1915, he was sent to France in the following November.  Whilst on the Western Front he was in action at Ypres, La Bassée, the Somme and Arras, and was wounded twice.  He was demobilised in October 1919, and holds the 1914-15 Star, and the General Service and Victory Medals.  60 Queen Street Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire

Horace Tearle 1893 of Edlesborough, son of John 1863 of Edlesborough and Ellen nee Dyer. Military serial number 1421 and 890597 Royal Field Artillery. Married Ethel L Larke. G-son George 1831 and Hannah Maria nee Janes. Living in Hemel Hempstead in 1901 census, Herts. William 1749.

Tearle, H C
Royal Fusiliers
He joined in April 1917, and at the conclusion of his training served at various stations on the East Coast on important duties with the 327th Works Company.  He did excellent work, but was unable to secure his transfer to the theatre of war before hostilities ceased, and was demobilised in January 1919. 58 Queen Street Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire.

Henry Charles Tearle 1888 of Edlesborough, brother of Horace above. Military serial number 176875, Royal Fusiliers. Married Elizabeth Winter. William 1749.

Tearle, J
Lance Corporal
6th Bedfordshire Regiment
Volunteering in September 1914, be was sent to France in July 1915.  Whilst on the Western Front he fought at the Battle of the Somme and was wounded on July 1st 1916.  He later returned to the front line trenches and was again wounded at Arras in April 1917.  On recovery he rejoined his Battalion and was wounded a third time in October 1917 near Ypres.  He returned to England in January of the following year and was engaged on Home duties until demobilised in February 1919.  He holds the 1914-15 Star, and the General Service and Victory Medals “South View”, Princess Street, Toddington, Bedfordshire

John Tearle 1896 of Toddington, son of Joseph Marlow Tearle and Emily nee Evans. Military serial number 16521, 7th Beds Regt. As far as I know, he never married. Joseph 1737 via Sarah 1847.

Tearle, W
Machine Gun Corps
He volunteered in January 1915 and in May 1917 was drafted to Egypt.  He served in Palestine, was engaged in the fighting at Gaza, and was present at the Occupation of Jerusalem.  He was transferred to the Western Front in June 1918, and fought at Arras, Ypres and Vimy Ridge.  He was demobilised in February 1919 and holds the General Service and Victory Medals. “South View”, Princess Street, Toddington, Bedfordshire

Willie (William Marlow) Tearle 1893 of Toddington; service number 30602, East Riding Of Yorkshire Yeomanry, 150426, Machine Gun Corps. Son of Joseph Marlow Tearle and Emily nee Evans. Brother of John, above. G-gson of Joseph 1797 and Maria nee Millings. Joseph 1737 via Sarah 1846.

Tearle, W M
2nd Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Regiments
He joined in April 1916 and 12 months later was sent to France.  During his service in this theatre of war he fought at Ypres, Passchendaele, the Somme, Cambrai and in the Retreat and Advance in 1918.  He holds the General Service and Victory Medals, and in 1920 was serving in India on garrison duties. The Square, Toddington, Bedfordshire.

William Major Tearle 1899 of Toddington, Military serial number 51273 (Beds Regt) and 43998 (Herts Regt) son of Major Tearle 1874 and Elizabeth Ann nee Turvey. Married Grace Nestor Andrews. John 1741 via Sarah 1823.

Tearle, W
West Yorks Regiment He volunteered in September 1914, and proceeded to France early in the next year.  Here he saw much service, fighting in the second Battle of Ypres, and in actions near Albert and Nieuport.  In these engagements he was twice wounded, and again in the first Battle of the Somme.  On recovery from his last wound, he was transferred to the Eastern Front, where he remained until the cessation of hostilities.  Returning  home, he was eventually demobilised in June 1919, and holds the 1914-15 Star, and the General Service and Victory Medals. 1 Elmfield Terrace, Wortley, Leeds, West Yorkshire

Wilfred Tearle 1896 of Bramley, Leeds. Son of William 1859 and Annie Lee Lavers, g-son of George 1825 and Maria nee Franklin. George went to Leeds when others of the family of Joseph 1803 and Mary Ann nee Smith went to Preston. Joseph 1737.

Magheragall Parish Church

Dawsons of County Antrim

A little family history.

“Belfast?” Elaine’s always up for going anywhere new, but this was unusual. “Is it safe?”

“EasyJet goes from Luton and we haven’t been there yet.” I looked up the short report from Jeanette Youngman. “We may be able to go to Lisburn once we get there and look up a few headstones in Magheragall.”

“Oh, nice. And?”

“And after that we can do as you like.”

Perhaps as early as 1980 Jeanette sent me a report she had commissioned from a family research company in Belfast. She wanted to know the story of her grandfather, William Dawson 1857-1910. She had been to Belfast and visited a Ewart family there and they had been very hospitable. The names on the report were echoes of the names that Mum’s family had used in NZ.

DSCF1622 Magheragall Parish Church

Magheragall Parish Church

Briefly, James Dawson of Lisburn 1776-1829, had a son William Dawson 1821-1889. This William married Ann Ewart (1826-1898) in Magheragall Parish Church (above) in 1852. Her parents were John Ewart and Jane Kirk. They had married in the Magheragall Church in 1809. William and Ann had 9 children one of whom was Richard Dawson 1855-1925, his immediately younger brother William Dawson 1857-1910 and his immediately younger brother James Ewart Dawson 1860-, and finally Thompson Dawson, about 1863, all of them born in Magheragall parish. William Dawson 1857-1910 was my maternal great-grandfather, as well as being Jeanette’s grandfather. So Jeanette (nee Dawson) was the same generation as my mother. By going on this visit to Belfast, I had an opportunity to seek out just a little of the story of William and his family.

My great grandfather, William Dawson, emigrated to New Zealand, where he met and married a Northern Ireland girl, from Lisnacloon, which is as far west as one can go, called Marguerite Matthews, after whom my mother was named. One of their sons was my grandfather, James Ewart Dawson and my mum named me after him. She called me Ewart, she said, because she didn’t want me called Jim. Mum always told me that William had left from Lisburn, which was close to Belfast.

We walked straight through Belfast International Airport, no passports asked for, and caught the 200 bus to the Central Bus Station. We had to take our bags to the Welcome Centre because our hotel wouldn’t store them. Something to do with security. Why the Welcome Centre would store them and not the hotel escaped me.

“The weather report said that it would rain all weekend, so a nice sunny morning like this might be the best chance to photograph a church,” I said to Elaine.

You pick up the bus for Lisburn from the Central Bus Station. No 51. As the bus left the station, on our right hand side was a huge notice painted on the end of a terrace house:

“You are entering Loyalist territory…” I missed the rest.

Are they still doing that?

Magheragall is just a church and a hall. There are no houses clustered around it as you might expect in a village, and the front door was locked, but there were the headstones and we examined all of them for Dawsons and Ewarts, eventually finding and photographing all of the ones in Jeanette’s report. The headstone on the left is for my ggg-grandfather, John Ewart who had married Jane Kirk in this church in 1809.

John and Jane Ewart headstone, Magheragall Parish Church

John and Jane Ewart headstone Magheragall Parish Church

Close to the door of the church was this headstone, right, which the report thought could be my ggggg-grandfather. It lists three generations of the Dawsons of Magheragall: James b1776, Richard b1802 and James b1820. This headstone, then, took my family back to living in this district since 1776


Richard Dawson headstone in Magheragall Parish Church

Richard Dawson headstone in Magheragall Parish Church

The report wasn’t at all sure who William Dawson 1801-1855 was, in the picture on the left, but he was memorialised along with his wife Jane and two infant children. I had no opportunity to find out where Killultach Cottage was. This is the inscription on the base of the left-hand pot.

William Dawson headstone.

William Dawson headstone.

The undated and unnamed Ewart headstone, right, is adjacent to John and Jane Ewart’s headstone above. We can safely assume whoever these parents were, they were John’s children and that his grandchildren raised the memorial.

Ewart headstone

Ewart headstone

Thompson Dawson, who died in 1937, was a brother of Mum’s grandfather, William 1857. You can see, then, that this family was still in Magheragall until at least 1994.

Thompson Dawson headstone.

Thompson Dawson headstone.

I don’t know who Thomas Lewis Dawson was, but this grave shows quite an extensive familial pattern in the parish, and also underlines how recently there was Dawson presence in the district. I have no certain knowledge, but it would not surprise me to find Dawsons still living there.

Thomas Lewis Dawson grave.

Thomas Lewis Dawson grave.

We were intrigued to see this sign pointing down a narrow lane that ran under a disused railway bridge from the road immediately in front of the church. “Her Majesty’s Prison” surmised Elaine. While we were there, several cars ran down the road, or emerged from it.

Sign to Maghaberry Prison

Sign to Maghaberry Prison

I stood for a long time reading and thinking about the first headstone we had seen. James Dawson, the father of the Richard Dawson who had erected the headstone, had been born in 1776. Richard had thoughtfully, perhaps even reverently, named his son after his father. Suddenly, the Dawsons had stopped being a mystery; my family had quite deep roots in County Antrim. I wondered where they had originally come from.

Some history from the Linen Building Library

In the Linen Building Library in Donnegal St, Belfast, the following morning I found some of the answers, courtesy of “The Cromwellian Settlement of Ireland” by John P Prendergast, 1922.

According to Prendergast, Henry VIII lost power over the English born in Ireland, and wrestled back control of Ireland by beheading the House of Kildare (English aristocracy) for treason and enacting legislation that allowed only the Privy Council to sign into law any Bills passed by the Irish parliament.

In an area of land in the north, called the Pale, the inhabitants were of English descent, Protestant, and loyal to the Crown. Beyond the Pale, English authority was considerably weaker. Henry sent in loyal English families (Protestant, of course) to own and farm the land and to strengthen his hand. The problem was, since he was himself in a war with the Pope over his attempt at divorcing Catherine of Aragon, and since he had declared himself Protestant in order to sideline the Pope’s authority, he was now weakened in his own authority over anyone still loyal to the Pope and the Catholic Church. In one of those peculiar quirks of history, at that moment a parallel universe was born. Events moved on elsewhere, but the Irish in the north continued with Henry’s War.

He handed the work onto his heirs and Elizabeth 1 encouraged soldiers and “Adventurers” to take up land in Ireland. Prendergast’s appendix showed a James Dawson taking up land as an adventurer in the Baronetcy of Iffa and Offa in about 1640. This district is in northern Tipperary and is close to the border with County Antrim. It would appear he is our ancestor. I didn’t find out anything about the Ewarts, but they probably share the same story, since Ewart is a Northumbrian name, of Saxon origin, living in the Scottish Borders; sometimes English, sometimes Scottish. William Ewart Gladstone, Prime Minister of England, was fond of saying there wasn’t a drop of blood in his body that wasn’t Scottish. I did, though, find a William Ewart and Son Ltd, Flax Spinners, in Ewart’s Place, off Ewart’s Row, off Crumlin Rd, Belfast, in the 1950s. In 1979 the factory disappeared and between 1980 and 1989, the area was allowed to run down. In 1990 Ewart’s Row was no longer listed in the Belfast Street Directory. There is or was (I didn’t find it) a Ewart’s Warehouse in central Belfast.

I was sure that in the report to Jeanette there was an address for William’s brother – somewhere in Belfast. I re-read the report. Richard had joined the Royal Irish Constabulary as a 20-yr old, and so had William, aged just 18½ yrs. He was dismissed in 1881 and arrived in New Zealand not long after. I don’t remember Mum telling me any stories about Richard, but given that William called one of his sons James Ewart Dawson, and that was the name of his immediately younger brother, then William certainly did not forget his family back in County Antrim.

I determined to find the address: 41 Fairview Street, Belfast. Richard had lived there from 1911 to 1925, said the report, as “Richard Dawson R.I.C. Pensr.” I asked the hotel’s breakfast chef where Fairview Street was.

“I don’t know,” he said, “but I’m 1000% certain the name no longer exists.” I went back to the Welcome Centre and the chap there gave me a Belfast city map.

He looked at it very closely, “It’s not here,” he said, “but I’m pretty certain that it was off the Crumlin Road. Go up to the Mater Hospital and ask at the information desk. They’ll know where it was.”

“Crumlin Road? Isn’t that something to do with the Troubles? The Loyalists?”

He turned away. “Ask the Mater, they’ll know.”

An introduction to the Troubles

Outside, it was teaming with rain so we leapt into a taxi and asked him for Fairview Street.

“I’ve never heard of it,” said the driver, “and it’s not here in the directory.” He waved a small, tattered book above his head. We asked him to take us to the Mater Hospital, and he knew where that was.

I asked at the desk just inside the double doors of the entry to Mater Hospital and the lady there said, “It doesn’t exist any more, but it used to be directly across the road from the entrance doors.”

I went back to the entrance doors and looked across the road, but there was only a steel wall. We paid off the taxi and went exploring, crossing the road and going left. A grand neo-Victorian (if there is such a word) chapel sat across the road, next to the Mater. A sign alongside me said Fairview Nursing Home; we were near.

Blue Murals across the village green.

Blue Murals across the village green.

We followed a road between the nursing home on our left and a brick wall on our right and descended a gentle slope that swept off to our right. As the road levelled out, we saw quite a large village green and terraced houses. No trees. Two end terraces had blue pictures on them and one directly in front of us had an orange picture.

Walking along Old Lodge Road.

Walking along Old Lodge Road.

I realised with a sudden chill that the orange picture had two gunmen on it and as I got closer I could see that the whole was a mural, a memorial to a Steve McRea. Alongside the memorial was a modified version of a WW1 anti-war poem that I had grown up with. “Age shall not weary…” I was shocked. Fancy pressing a nearly-sacred work into a turf war such as the Troubles. I walked around the green, wondering if I was attracting undue attention, especially hostile attention, and I hoped my South African hat, and the camera, would provide assurance that I was a visitor. A house was flying an England flag, and the two blue murals were about oppression and ethnic cleansing. It was very intimidating.

A middle-aged man walked across the green and I approached him. “Do you know where Fairview Street was? I understood it was around here.”

He stopped and looked at me carefully. “You see that house with the English flag? It went from there up to the Mater. Why?”


Fairview Street was here.

Fairview Street was here.

“My great-grandfather’s brother lived at 41 Fairview Street from 1911 till about 1925. He was a sergeant in the RIC.”

“Umm, it’s been gone a long time, but that’s where it used to be, I’m sure of it.”

I turned around and photographed the house with the English flag. The Royal Irish Constabulary had become the Royal Ulster Constabulary and that was the basis of the existing police force in Northern Ireland.

A much older man was walking his dog in the rain. I thought he would know more about the street. Perhaps he had even walked in it. I asked him the same questions.

“Fairview Street? You see that house with the English flag, it went straight up to the Mater Hospital from there. That street between us and those houses was called Old Lodge Street, but it’s not now, and there were quite a few streets that ran from there up to the Crumlin Road.”

I stopped to think. “The Crumlin Rd?”

“Up there,” he said pointing past the house with the English flag.

“You mean the road in front of the Mater Hospital? Isn’t the Crumlin Road something to do with the Troubles? Is it the Loyalists?”

He looked at me in the pouring rain, brushing aside my offer of an umbrella. “You’re standing in the middle of it.” He waited until he saw my face clearing from the shock. “This is called the Hammer.”

“This village green?”

“The Hammer. Your Fairview Street, and quite few others, used to run up the hill to the Crumlin Rd from Old Lodge Road. There used to be hay carts and goods wagons running along Old Lodge Road, but you don’t see them now. The houses there got old and eventually they were pulled down and those new ones were put up in their place, but the street layout was changed to slow down access to the Hammer.”

“And Steve McRea?”

Memorial to Steve McRea.

Memorial to Steve McRea.

“Oh, he was drinkin’ at the Club just behind us one night and one of the boys pulled out his gun and shot him. That boy still lives here.”

“He wasn’t killed by the Republicans?”

“No! He was killed in a bar-room brawl and I could show you the house of the lad who shot him. He was killed by his own neighbours.”

“How do you feel about these murals? The atmosphere here?”

“It’s a bit much, isn’t it?” he said. “I don’t like it at all.”

I looked at the terraced houses and their pristine white curtains, “This might not be quite middle class,” I said, “but it’s certainly not a slum. I expected the Troubles to be taking place in the burnt-out wreck of a smelly hell-hole. But it’s quiet and there are children being taken for walks.”

I stopped as Elaine joined us and he was happy to share her umbrella. “There is a sign beside the Steve McRea mural that says ‘Anyone caught defacing Loyalist murals will be seriously dealt with’ how do they feel about that?”

He tapped a cream brick wall we had been sheltering beside, “There used to be a mural on this wall, but the new owner came out one morning and painted it over. There was a bit of a fuss, but nothing much. More mutterings than actual talk. If you can’t sell your house, you have to redecorate it.”

“Do you think the Good Friday agreement has finally settled the Troubles?”

“Once Ian Paisley joined the party, the Troubles were over.” He paused for a moment and whistled up his dog. As he climbed into his car he added, “If Tony Blair hadn’t gone to Iraq, this might have been his finest hour.”

I showed Elaine where Fairview Street used to be, using the house with the English flag as the marker. “My great-grandfather William, and his brother Richard were both in the Royal Irish Constabulary,” I explained. “Richard lived here, off the Crumlin Road in the very heart of the Troubles. How much and what sort of a role did he play?”

Elaine murmered quietly through the purr of the rain on her umbrella, the water glistening grey on her cream coat. “William had a job in the RIC in Sligo,” she said. “Jeanette said he was dismissed very young and shortly after went to NZ. I wonder why he was dismissed? Did he say yes and do something terrible, or did he say no, and they fired him for that?”

We roamed the nearest houses, documenting the murals. A small group clustered under their umbrellas and examined a mural of a Royalist soldier being comforted as lay dying, with his spirit on a white charger dancing on the water, in a hurry to leave and claim his reward from God.

The history lesson.

The history lesson.

A few thin trees waited, leafless, for spring.

The primitivist murals with their emotional re-writing of history and violent appeals against ethnic cleansing were nevertheless sobering and even intimidating.

On one wall, a severed and bloody hand crawled ashore with Viking warriors in the background cheering it on as they prepared to land in their fighting ships. The Red Hand Brigade was pictured everywhere.

Red Hand brigade mural.

Red Hand brigade mural.

It must have been a comforting thought for the locals that they were protected by such a malignant force, or perhaps it was one of the methods used by the force itself to ensure compliance and silence from the homedwellers.

The story on the painted brick wall below accompanies the mural on the house alongside. They claim they are being attacked on a daily basis and that’s why they have had to set up the Vigilanty (sic) groups to defend themselves.

Mural explanation

Why we have set up vigilante groups.

The scroll alongside the picture of the burning terrace houses quotes the Belfast Telegraph: “Several hundred familys were forced to flee their homes last night as houses came under attack from republicans. The number of homeless is running into Several thousand, more people were moving out of riot areas today. The women and children have been offered shelter in Cities across the world. Security forces moved in to bring calm to riot areas.

End of terrace mural, quoting the Belfast Telegraph.

End of terrace mural, quoting the Belfast Telegraph.

Below is an end of terrace mural showing the development of the Ulster paramilitary forces. The figure in the middle top, in the balaclava, is the pinnacle of that evolution.

End of terrace mural.

End of terrace mural.

This last pair of pictures shows a painted brick wall that explains the establishment of the Ulster Defence Association.

UDA manifesto mural.

UDA manifesto mural.

I am not familiar with all the symbols on the house below, but I recognise H block from the Maze prison, just outside Lisburn. It was almost exclusively Catholic prisoners who were held there, so I am unsure of the message of this mural.

UDA mural.

UDA mural.

We decided that we were wet enough and cold enough, and that our cameras had taken a sufficient beating, for us to retreat to the city by taking a bus from near the Mater. We walked back to the Steve McRea house because it looked as though that street led back up to the Crumlin Rd. I stopped a postie, “The building with all the pillars on the corner up there?”

Crumlin Rd Courthouse and Crumlin Rd Gaol chimney.

Crumlin Rd Courthouse and Crumlin Rd Gaol chimney.

He looked up the hill.

“Do you know what it is, please?”

“It was,” he said with heavy emphasis, “the Crumlin Rd Courthouse.”

“It’s pretty posh, isn’t it?”

“It’s not used now. And no-one’s bought it. As part of the Good Friday Agreement, they gave up using this courthouse and only use the one in town. They used to try prisoners in the courthouse and then take them by underground tunnel to the prison.”


“Do you see the chimney? It belongs to the Crumlin Rd Gaol. They used to hold mostly IRA prisoners there. Mind you, Ian Paisley was there for a while.”

“This is a loyalist area but they held IRA prisoners in the local jail?”

“It’s closed now, too – part of the Good Friday Agreement – and they are trying to turn it into an arts centre with caffs and such-like. The prisoners from here all went to a new prison in Marghaberry.” He paused. “Mind you, most of them aren’t prisoners any more, either.” He pedaled off.

The Crumlin Rd Prison. I’d heard stories; they were dim echoes of violence, contempt and political manoeuvring.

I remembered Marghaberry; the side-road going under the bridge opposite Magheragall Church. Elaine was right.

We walked up the hill and I photographed the prison building before we crossed the road to see it more closely, and to catch the bus back into the city. It was at once menacing and beetle-browed but at the same time massive and self-assured in its Victorian brownstone solidity. It was like Mt Eden Prison – heavy and overpowering and yet, now that it is vacant, it’s not something that should immediately be destroyed. It has its own organic beauty. A perfection of form and function.

Crumlin Rd Prison.

Crumlin Rd Prison.

Was the chimney solely for coal-fired heating?

The courthouse building opposite, with its grandiose statues of British Justice, looked faded and care-worn. Why was it not possible to sell it, or to buy it? Perhaps the weight of its history was crushing the very stones it was built from. Too pretty, too colonnaded, too self-important; a busy modern world wants nothing of it.

On the bus, I took out the Belfast city map that the man from the Welcome Centre had given us and we had a look at where we had just been. I have reproduced a small portion of the map and you can see Belfast city is bottom right, so this area of the Troubles is west and north-west of the city. The Crumlin Road runs west, along the blue route for a while. Immediately above it on the extreme left of this map is the Boyne. You remember the battle of the Boyne. King James 1 (of the King James Bible) won a famous battle for England here and ever since the Loyalists have been indulging in marching celebrations in full summer. The brown road is the Shankhill Rd and it marks the boundary between the Protestant Loyalists and the Catholic Republicans. South of the Shankhill Rd to the purple Falls Rd is the Belfast Republican stronghold. Two adjacent neighbourhoods who refused to get on.

Map of West Belfast

Map of West Belfast

The Mater Hospital is shown on the map, but not the Crumlin Rd Gaol. I couldn’t help thinking – what was Richard doing all this time? For ten years or so he lived in retirement on Fairview St, in the very heart of the Troubles. His job as a policeman would have brought him into daily contact with both sides. Probably in conflict, also, with both sides. How did he cope? What did he do? What did he think? Did he work for peace?

Still a little shocked but without doubt very wet and quite cold, we called in to a little cafe alongside a row of bus stops and in full view of the Town Hall. We had to share a table and some beautiful leather loungers with an attractive young girl in a blue dress who said she was at Queen’s University. “So you have a genuine local accent?”

“I come from just out of Belfast, but I think it’s pretty close,” she grinned.

“Is it holiday at the moment?” Elaine asked. “You’re not in class.”

“I don’t always attend class – I also do charity work, helping others cope and giving them counselling. I don’t work for money.” She stood up and brushed the crumbs of her dinner onto the floor. “God provides,” she said with breathtaking innocence. “I never go hungry. And I always have a roof over my head.”

I turned around as she left. A young goth, whom I had noticed arriving, had been joined by what looked like his mother and some of her family. So goths have mothers.

A Belfast goth.

A Belfast goth.

I couldn’t resist. I walked up to the group and asked if I could take his photo. He nodded. They were intrigued. I took the photo and they saw the result in the camera viewer. The sky blue background and the shy young goth with his tattoos, black clothing and facial piercings were all so much in place in a major European city. After the head-turning madness of the Troubles, normalcy seemed so refreshing.

The crumbling of Fairview Street

I felt that I had one more job to do, so I returned to the Linen Centre Library to see what I could find out about Richard’s stay at 41 Fairview Street, and then to see when and how Fairview St ceased to exist. The tousled-headed, skinny young man on the library desk waved me through, recognising me from the previous visit. I took the 1901 Belfast Street Directory from the tall glass cabinet and hefted its bulk onto the oaken table where I had sat last time. The directories were tattered and time-worn, but most of them were there, judging from the dates stamped on the leather bindings of their 4” wide spines. 41 Fairview St was easy to find, since all the streets were listed in alphabetical order. After I had tried a few books, I could open them at about 1/3 of the way in and turn just a few pages to get to Fairview St. Richard wasn’t there in 1901, so I skipped to 1905 and he wasn’t there, either. Then, in 1910 there was this entry:

Fairview St

41  Dawson R RIC pensr

I checked every year and he was there until 1920, when I noticed that his neighbours had changed. Perhaps they hadn’t, but I saw the kinds of people who lived around him. At 1, 3 and 51 there were other RIC men, and I discovered it was quite a short street, too, because the numbers went from 1-51 and that included both sides of the street. There was a slater, a carpenter, a grocers asst, a shopkeeper, cattle dir (drover?) and a waiter. He was there in 1922 and all the way to 1925. In 1926 I noticed there were policemen at 1, 13, 19, 51, 6 and 8. He was there still in 1927 and then the entry changed for 1928:

41 Dawson Mrs Mary Jane

Was that his wife or his daughter-in-law? The 1929 directory was missing but the entry for 1930 was the same as for 1928. In 1931 the directory noted:

41 Short Wn Gardener

Perhaps Mary Jane was his wife and she, too had died.

I skipped to 1965, and all the properties from 1-51 were occupied, so I skipped to 1975. By this stage it had a British Post Code: BT13 1AU, but the listing was quite ominous: 1-53 were vacant and 2-56 were vacant ground. I took this to mean that all the houses on one side of the street were derelict and no longer inhabited, if even habitable, and that all the other side of the street had been bulldozed. In 1976, all the lots were vacant, again in 1977, again in 1979 – and then in 1980, the street name itself was missing from the directory. Fairview St was gone.

I showed my notes to a tall, greying man who had been ferrying books to and from a shelf not far from me, his green trousers and harris tweed jacket catching the corner of my eye as he moved about. We could have been in London, rather than Belfast. “What’s that all about? The vacant houses and then the vacant land.”

“Three kinds of relocation,” he explained in the kind of accent I had heard from Ian Paisley on the television. “You could volunteer to relocate and you’d get a new house somewhere else: you could get burned or bombed out of your house and the aut’orities would find a new one for you: or you could just go somewhere else and leave the whole thing behind.”

“Like New Zealand, or New York?”


And do you think of Northern Ireland as Ulster?

“Ulster and the Loyalists? The first thing they wanted was Home Rule because they didn’t want to be run by an absentee government in Westminster. Then when it came near, they realised that Home Rule meant being run from Dublin and they decided they didn’t want that, so they made it look as though the British Government was pushing them out of Britain, where they rightfully belonged. So now they wanted local rule, and they appealed to an area called Ulster as their homeland. Thing is, Ulster includes counties in Ireland, and Northern Ireland has a different boundary from that which would correctly be Ulster.”

“They just made up the rules as they went along,” said a much shorter man who had joined us “and took whatever suited them.”

“Calling themselves Ulstermen suited their political purposes,” said the first man tiredly. “I’m glad it’s over. Look how the city is prospering.” He looked again at my notes, “Fairview St? Off the Crumlin Rd?” I nodded.

“There is a long stretch of the south side of the Crumlin Road where they cleared away everything. But first they had to vacate all the houses. Leaving them to rot was the perfect way of clearing them out.”

He moved off. They had finished talking to me. I could feel that they had generated quite a bit of passion, and I thanked them and left.

The young man at reception nodded as I dropped off my pass.

The wounds are still raw. The hurts still hurt, but the citizens of Belfast warm to the present, look to the future and turn their backs on their violent past. The parallel universe has finally converged and Henry’s War is over.

Ewart Tearle

May 2008


A Visit to Gallipoli; April, 2015

By Ewart Tearle
8 April 2015

The dual carriageway from Istanbul to Eceabat is long and winding and takes the best part of five hours driving. The countryside is green and pleasant with a patchwork of fenced fields on a wide and gently rolling landscape, sometimes resembling the Waikato, with its grassy green paddocks, and sometimes looking like Hertfordshire where knots of tight forest capped low rises. Small villages of unkempt cottages with broken tiles on the roofs told of rural poverty, little mosques with one dome and a single minaret lent romance to the valleys.

A little village mosque.

A little village mosque.

“We are travelling the coastal highway of the Gallipoli Peninsula in the Province of Canakkale,” said Kubra, our beautiful guide on the minibus to Eceabat, a slim young Turk in a wide-skirted brown trenchcoat that swept to her knees, her hair covered with a silk scarf that framed a face of peaches and cream with dark eyebrows over brown-green eyes. “All of the peninsula falls within the province.”

She looked through the bus window towards the sea thirty or forty metres below. “The houses between us and the sea are holiday homes, that’s why there is no-one in them.” For many miles the two-storied houses, with their tightly shut windows and locked doors, their sun-powered water heaters sticking out of their roofs, stalked up and down the slope to the sea, a few hundred metres away, waiting for the holidays. The rural cottages had no such sophistication. We saw very few people, even in the villages – and no stock of any sort.

In Eceabat, we found TJ’s Tours; it was they whom we had asked to take us to the ANZAC battlefields of the Great War. Genevieve had recommended them.
“Why are you going there?” our English friends had asked us.
“Because we are Kiwis,” we’d say.

When I was a Boy Scout, from about the age of fourteen, every ANZAC Day, on the 25th of April, I had been a member of the guard of honour around the Cenotaph in Rotorua, head bowed in the dark, foggy cold of a 6am start while small, old men honoured their lost friends with wreaths and tears. It was called Dawn Parade. There were soldiers from the Boer War, from the First World War accompanied by a small contingent of nurses who had served on the battlefields with them, and a larger section of men and women in uniforms of soldiers, sailors, air crew and nurses who had served in the Second World War. The deeply sad wail of a single bugle sounding The Last Post hung in the eerie silence while the grief-stricken sobs of women my mother’s age were muffled in the coats of their friends. New Zealand had paid a terrible price to help the British Empire in its hour of need, and the first realisation of how high that price might be was told early in the First World War, in a place called Gallipoli.

I had known the name all my life, but I couldn’t have told you where it was. I knew we’d fought the Turks, but very little else, in the way I knew we’d fought the Boers, and we had died in our hundreds in the trenches of Flanders, but apart from graphic monochrome photographs I had no conception of what and where those things had happened.

Gallipoli is a place apart; it is a finger of land pointing south-west from that small part of Turkey which is in Europe, parallel with the mass of Turkey that is Asian. The deep trench of water between Gallipoli and Anatolia is called the Turkish Straits. It leads from the Aegean Sea, and it is divided into three parts. The first part is called the Dardanelles, that flows into the Marmara Sea, which narrows at Istanbul and becomes the Bosphorus Strait and that in turn widens into the Black Sea. There is a surface current that takes water from the Aegean Sea to the Black Sea, and a deep, cold counter-current that takes water from the Black Sea back to the Aegean.

Gallipoli is a very small piece of land, yet 250,000 Allied forces fought there, along with 280,000 Turkish during a campaign that lasted barely 250 days. The figures are notoriously unreliable, but the maths would indicate that around 2000 men per day were killed or wounded, along a three-part front line that stretched for less than fifteen miles. At times the Turkish front line was only eight metres from the Allies.
We New Zealanders were the British, too, in those days. When I was at school, we learnt English history and British geography. We could see on wall maps of the world the scale of the empire of which we were a part. All that area coloured in red was British and that included us; our grandparents had come from Britain, and the New Zealand and Australian soldiers who signed up in WW1 and WW2 did so for the honour of defending our Homeland. When Britain joined the EU, they cut themselves off from us and put up trade barriers. We had to find our own markets, make our own way in the world and decide who we were, and what was most important to us. The Australians and the British troops, in two World Wars, had called us Kiwis, because of the Kiwi boot polish all New Zealand soldiers were issued. It was a term of friendship, of comradery, and gradually we adopted it over perhaps other choices. It helped that our national bird is also a kiwi.

Our Tour of the ANZAC Sites.
There are five cemeteries of particular interest to the New Zealand visitor to Gallipoli; Chunuk Bair, Ari Burnu, Lone Pine, Hill 60 and Twelve Tree Copse, of which Chunuk Bair is the most important, and there are other places where New Zealanders are buried or memorialised. But before you can go to Chunuk Bair you must pass through ANZAC Cove, as more than 8500 New Zealand troops had to do before you. To start with, the beach is tiny, much smaller than the beach you see in the photos of the 3,100 New Zealanders who landed there on the first day, because the current is removing the beach, pebble by pebble.

ANZAC Cove and North Beach.

ANZAC Cove and North Beach.

There is a little promontory, called Ari Burnu, a short curve of beach, then a short straight before the view widens out onto North Beach and you can see up to The Sphinx, a tall overhang of sandstone that towers above the beach. If you were an ANZAC soldier, at this moment you would be exposed to the full force of Turkish fire over a wide hillside that towered above you. The ANZACs hid behind a low sandstone cliff on a narrow, pebbly beach wondering what on earth had hit them.

The Sphinx from North Beach.

The Sphinx from North Beach.

The objective of the first day of the Gallipoli landings was Chunuk Bair. The ANZACs finally captured it in the last few weeks of the campaign, and held it for just three days. It was the only objective of the entire campaign that was attained. When Mustafa Kemal took it back with a huge force, that was the end of the Gallipoli Campaign. The entire force of Allied soldiers had moved barely six kilometres inland.

Elaine and I walked the short distance along ANZAC Cove, the sea licking at our feet. We each picked up a pebble, a little limestone memento before the sea swept it away, and headed back to the assembly point for the ANZAC Day commemoration, a grassy area surrounded by red tiered seating that looked out over the Dardanelles from whence had come the British sea-borne landing for Turkey, one hundred years ago.

“In a few days time, on the morning of the 25th of April,” said Aykut, our Gallipoli guide, “10,500 people will be here to commemorate the ANZAC landing.” He was a stocky Turkish man with intense black eyes, a ready smile, impeccable English and an encyclopedic knowledge of the Gallipoli Campaign. He stood before us in a red jacket, blue jeans and a brown leather hat with a wide brim. He waved his arms over the sea of red seats and the grass at our feet. “You will not find a square foot to stand on if you do not have a ticket. Don’t worry about the seats, this grass beneath our feet will be fully occupied, too. Then, when the first ceremony is over, everyone will join with the Australians at the Lone Pine Cemetery, and when that is over, everyone goes on to join the Kiwis at Chunuk Bair.”

ANZAC Cove is now its official name.

ANZAC Cove is now its official name.

He looked at a new stone structure barely high enough to serve as a seat, with the word ANZAC written in bold bronze capitals. “In 1985, the Turkish government renamed this beach to its wartime name of ANZAC Cove because the Australian and New Zealand governments asked us, and because there is now an Ataturk Park in Melbourne, a plaque in Albany, a plaque in Canberra and the Ataturk Memorial in Wellington. We, too, call this day ANZAC Day. Gallipoli was as nation-building for us as it was for you.”

We visited the Ari Burnu Cemetery, just a few metres away. I looked closely at the British-designed sandstone monument beyond the lines of headstones for the first time. It had a wide base and a tall centre decorated with a cross. In the lowest portion of the monument were carved the words “THEIR NAMES LIVETH FOR EVER MORE”.

Ari Burnu Cemetery

Ari Burnu Cemetery

Many of the headstones here recorded the deaths of these young men on the first two days of the landing. There were men from the Wellington Regiment, the Otago Regiment, the NZ Mounted Rifles and the NZ Medical Corps. The Australians mostly came from the 2nd and 8th Australian Light Horse. The plaque explaining the cemetery noted that the lines drawn up on the first day of the landings were largely unchanged until the end of the campaign, and that 2000 men died on the first day. The Waikato Times of 22 April 2015 noted that of that number, 200 were from the Waikato, Waitomo and King Country.

Close to ANZAC Cove was a sandstone monument with raised lettering containing some thoughts written in 1934 from the victorious general, who had become president of Turkey. His name was Mustafa Kemal Ataturk; he was called “the father of Turkey,” hence his name, Ataturk.

He began:
These extraordinary words took my breath away. Whoever heard such sentiments from the leader of a country towards those who had attacked him?

Ataturk's message at ANZAC Cove.

Ataturk’s message at ANZAC Cove.

I wanted to find out if Turks really did feel friendly towards New Zealanders. I had my South African stockman’s hat on and it looked remarkably like a New Zealand soldier’s hat from WW1. The Australian hat was turned up on the left side, so they were easy to distinguish from the Kiwis. If the Turks were actually hostile towards the Kiwis, rather than friendly as Ataturk had declared, then I would soon know, and I would have to stop wearing my hat.

TJ’s bus took us to Lone Pine Cemetery. The shocking thing about the Gallipoli Campaign was how few soldiers were found in order to bury them. Only a hundred or so have marked graves at Lone Pine Cemetery, and a few have “Believed to be buried here” headstones. The rest of their names, 4,222 Australians and 709 New Zealanders, are on wall plaques, some cut stone, and some engraved brass. Plaque after plaque of closely-packed names, usually organised by regiment, battalion and rank. A lone pine does exist; a plaque reminded us the existing pine was grown from a seed of the original. The monument has a remembrance book which we signed “To our Australian cousins, because we promised never to forget.”

Lone Pine Cemetery.

Lone Pine Cemetery.

The next stop was Chunuk Bair. Only a few bodies were found, and we counted just ten headstones, all New Zealanders.

The ten NZ graves on Chanuk Bair.

The ten NZ graves on Chunuk Bair.

There were again the serried ranks of names on plaques, of men who served in the Auckland Regiment and the Wellington, Christchurch and Otago Regiments, as well as some who served with the NZ Navy and the Medical Corps and the Wellington Mounted Rifles.

Wellington Mounted Rifles names on Chunuk Bair

Wellington Mounted Rifles names on Chunuk Bair.

This photograph came from Elaine’s collection of photographs and includes the name Lance Corporal L M Natzke.

A huge bronze of Ataturk with a tall flagpole towered over the NZ memorial, one arm across his chest holding his binoculars, and the other holding a swagger stick behind his back, as befits the victor.

Ataturk guards Chanuk Bair.

Ataturk guards Chunuk Bair.

Recently recut trenches traced the lines down which Turkish forces and their supplies moved.

The trenches on Chanuk Bair.

The trenches on Chunuk Bair.

In a large clearing on the hilltop, four huge curved stones told the story of the Turks of Chunuk Bair on significant days in their desperate struggle to keep their country.

The ANZAC assault of 6 August is repulsed.

The ANZAC assault of 6 August is repulsed.

The plaque with the translation of 6 Aug 1915 assault.

The plaque with the translation of the 6 Aug 1915 assault.

One look over the brow of the hill to the land below was enough to show even the casual onlooker of the huge advantage the occupation of the top of the hill had for those who could keep it. Stripped of its vegetation, the view down the hill to those trying to climb it was panoramic and clear. No-one could move without the lookout seeing it, and the field of fire was almost total. For that reason, many of the most important troop movements in the campaign had to be completed during the night, with understandable confusion over battle orders, due to units becoming lost in the darkness.

The view from Chunuk Bair.

The view from Chunuk Bair.

Hill 60 Monument.

Hill 60 Monument.

We moved on to the Hill 60 Cemetery. The bus pulled over on a straight stretch of road and the driver pointed to a dirt track just wide enough for an SUV, but not for a bus. The sign on the side of the road pointed the way to Hill 60, almost directly in line with Chunuk Bair high on the horizon. To its left as we viewed it, and 20m higher, was the rounded dome of Hill 971.
The cemetery marked the last major assault of the Gallipoli Campaign. In eight days 788 Allied soldiers were killed, for no real gain. Of those soldiers, 182 New Zealanders have no known grave.

We walked up the track. Hidden behind the bushes that overhung the track was the now familiar form of a British memorial, enclosed in a field barely a third of an acre in size. We were looking specifically for a Richard Roland Jones, whom Dos Mark of Otorohanga had asked us to find. Elaine had found him listed  with the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and finally here we were. None of the surprisingly few headstones mentioned him. Elaine said that Dos’ grandmother’s brother was never found; he probably did not have a headstone. She found his name on the memorial itself in the Auckland Mounted Rifles: Trooper Jones R. R.

Jones RR, the last name on the Auckland Mounted Rifles Hill 60 Memorial.

Jones R. R. the last name on the Auckland Mounted Rifles Hill 60 Memorial.

Jones R. R. closeup.

Our last visit to the ANZAC sites was to Twelve Tree Copse, where 179 New Zealanders are recorded. They were killed in the Second Battle of Krithia and on the Helles front during May and July 1915 and “whose graves are known only to God.” No-one else was visiting the site, and Elaine and I photographed some New Zealand and Australian headstones. The writing on the now familiarly shaped memorial was fiendishly difficult to read in the available light.

The memorial at Twelve Tree Copse.

The memorial at Twelve Tree Copse.

John Henry Tearle – The Hertfordshire Soldier

“Do you know anyone who was killed at Gallipoli?” our friends would also ask. Indeed I did, and he was the main reason I wanted to go to Gallipoli. His name was John Henry Tearle, from Hertford, a lance sergeant in the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers. His name was on the Helles Memorial because he was fighting in a British Regiment. It may seem odd these days, but before 1922, all service in England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland was called Home service and did not count for service medals or pension. John Henry was not fighting for or even with the Irish; he was fighting with the British. The Inniskilling Fusiliers were recruiting in Hertfordshire, so he joined them. The irony was that because he did not join the Hertfordshire Regiment, his name is not remembered anywhere in Hertfordshire as a Great War soldier and casualty.

Port Hill Bengeo - last terrace on right, now part of number 69.

Port Hill Bengeo – last terrace on right, now part of number 69.

Elaine and I had visited John Henry’s home in Bengeo, a short climb up a steep hill that looks down on the A414 as the highway snakes its way through the heart of Hertford. The house was an end terrace with a door and an upstairs window. It probably had no toilet and no running water. John Henry, his sisters Florence and Jane, and his grandmother Harriet Tearle from Soulbury, in Buckinghamshire, were so poor, they had spent time in the Hatfield Union Workhouse, as late as 1896. I think he thought that working in the army would at least give him a paying job. He was reasonably successful, too; lance sergeant was a good few steps up the ranks. Notice of his death on Gallipoli at only twenty-eight years old, was given to his mother, still resident in the terrace house pictured above. Large numbers of the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers had died with him.

The Helles Memorial.

The Helles Memorial.

We arrived at the Helles Memorial, which was a beautifully built sandstone obelisk towering over the landscape and giving a view over the Dardanelles. On the map we had, it was called the Ingiliz Helles Aniti. A sign said that this memorial has the names of 25,000 servicemen who died in the Gallipoli Campaign. We three were the only people visiting it. After the busy scenes at the other memorials, it was a shock to realise that no-one seemed to know that so many young British soldiers had given their lives, and they had been forgotten. We were pleased we had come.

I gave Aykut the envelope containing everything I knew about John Henry – the photos of his house, his short military record, the file from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, the plan drawing of the memorial – and he studied them all closely. He went off towards the near wall of the monument and stopped at the far end. He looked towards me and said nothing. He had found John Henry. He moved off when I arrived and I stood, head bowed for a short while, and paid my respects.
“He died on 29 June 1915,” said Aykut, when I joined him. “He would have been fighting in the Battle of Gully Ravine. It was very hot. It always is in June. The battle was on 24-28 June, so he would have died of his wounds.”

John Henry Tearle on Helles Memorial.

John Henry Tearle on Helles Memorial.

“If he died of his wounds,” I queried, “wouldn’t he have been buried? He is on this monument because he could not be found and buried.”

“He only had to be in a field hospital a few hundred metres from the front and if there was a delay of just a day or so to get his body to a more rearward position, then he would have been left behind, and he would never have been found and identified.” He paused. “So his name is on the memorial. Most of the men killed on Gallipoli, Allied and Turk, are still lying in this earth, unknown and unidentifiable.”

The Turkish Heroes
In order to inspire their troops, a nation needs heroes; ordinary men who did an extraordinary thing. There are two who stand out above all else. One is recounted by General Casey, who became Lord Casey, Governor General of Australia. An English officer lay wounded in the no-man’s land between the Turkish and British front lines. The fighting was fierce, and no-one dared to leave their trench to rescue the officer. From the trench in front of them, someone waved a white flag and after a moment, a Turkish soldier stood up, climbed out of his trench and walked towards the English officer. He calmly picked him up, and to the astonishment of all, he carried him to the British trench and handed him down to the waiting men. The soldier walked back to his own trench and jumped in. There is a huge statue near ANZAC Cove of a Turkish soldier carrying an English officer. The soldier’s name was Mahmetcige Saygi. For such gallantry on the battlefield, may his name live forever.

Mahmetcige Saygi and the English officer

Mahmetcige Saygi and the English officer

The second ordinary man was a gunner in one of the 12 forts the Turks built to guard the Dardanelles. His huge nine-inch gun had been firing at British warships all morning, and it was struck by a shell from the naval bombardment, destroying the crane that carried live shells up to the gun’s breach. Corporal Seyit Onbasi carried three 275kg shells up the ladder to the gun. “One of those shells hit the rudder of the battleship OCEAN,” said Aykut, “and she drifted onto the mines guarding the shore, destroying her.”
“Two hundred and seventy-five kilograms!” I exclaimed. “That’s an enormous weight.”
“All done on pure adrenalin,” said Aykut calmly.

Cpl Seyit Onbasi carries the shell to his gun.

Cpl Seyit Onbasi carries the shell to his gun.

The Turkish Memorials.
A three-times lifesize bronze of a Turkish soldier with a bayonet attached to his rifle guards the carpark and market of the cemetery for the 57th Infantry Regiment.

A soldier of the 57th Infantry.

A soldier of the 57th Infantry.

It is famed nationally for two reasons; this was Ataturk’s regiment, and it won the Gallipoli Campaign, having fought on the peninsular for the full length of the war.

The plaque detailing the acts of the 57th Infantry.

The plaque detailing the acts of the 57th Infantry.

The headstones lie in ordered ranks along the hillside, but Aykut warned me that they marked no grave.

A headstone for a soldier of the 57th Infantry.

A headstone for a soldier of the 57th Infantry.

“All those who were recovered are buried in a mass grave to the right of the memorial,” he told me.

“A mass grave,” I repeated slowly. “The dead soldiers were each rolled into a shroud and lowered into a pit, side by side.”
Aykut nodded.

“And then earth was spread on them and another layer was added?”
He turned sadly away. “The names of those in the mass grave are written on stainless steel pillars lying on the ground at the bottom of those steps.”
He indicated a set of honey-toned sandstone steps behind me. I turned and followed them, busy with visitors, down to see the names. I stood shocked at the scale of the disaster.

Turkish names at the Memorial of the 57th Infantry.

Turkish names at the Memorial of the 57th Infantry.

On the way back I met an old man working his way slowly down the steps and I wordlessly took his elbow to ensure he didn’t fall. He stood and looked at the silent memory of so much death and breathed a deep sigh. As I helped him back up the steps he said, “Where do you come from?”

I said “New Zealand,” but it meant nothing to him. “Kiwi,” I tried.

He broke into a smile, “Ah! Thank you! Thank you!” He shook my hand, and a younger man took over and led him gently towards the steps leading to the memorial, where hundreds of people were viewing the magnificent spectacle and quietly checking the names on the headstones.

DSC_3598 Gateway to Kesikdere Sehitligi

Gateway to Kesikdere Sehitligi – the memorial to the 57th Infantry Regiment.

I was browsing the market in the car park when a young woman in a formal black suit stopped beside me and asked me where I came from. She said she was from Turkish Television, and at the foot of the Turkish soldier, she and her cameraman interviewed me on why I was in Canakkale. I don’t know if it was ever aired.

The second great memorial is in Helles, not far from and in plain view of the English memorial where we had found John Henry’s name. It is more than 41m tall and it is called the Canakkale Sehitler Abidesi. It is the national symbol for the Gallipoli Campaign, in the same way that Chunuk Bair is for us. From the bus park we walked past a plaque with Ataturk’s 1934 message to all those who had died, slightly different in wording from that at ANZAC Cove, but obviously a translation of the same document. For the next hundred metres of the walk through tall pine trees, there were row upon row of glass pillars with perhaps a hundred names engraved on each of them. “64,000 Turkish soldiers are listed here,” said Aykut.

64,000 names of the Turkish National Monument to the Canakkale Campaign.

64,000 names of the Turkish National Monument to the Canakkale Campaign.

We walked towards the impressive monument, and noting that no-one was walking on the grass towards it, we followed the track beside the trees that showed the way.


Turkish National Monument to the Battle of Canakkale.

Turkish National Monument to the Battle of Canakkale.

As I arrived close to the monument, at the top of a few stairs were four men who looked long and hard at me. I stopped and lowered my camera, in case they thought I was photographing them.

“Where are you from?” asked a man wearing a cloth cap, who stood in the middle of the group. All of them were much shorter than me, and had thick, heavy overcoats and grey moustaches. “New Zealand,” I offered tentatively.

“New Zealand!” shouted one of the group. He turned excitedly to the others, who had gathered around him. “Kiwi!,” he shouted. They all turned round, ran the few paces to me and surrounded me. The short man pushed his camera into my hand. “Photo,” he said. I sat my camera down on the grass nearby, took the man’s camera and photographed the men standing proudly in front of their national monument. The short man came back to me, “Photo,” he cried. They stood either side of me and put their arms over my shoulders. The fourth man took a photo. They changed places and took another photo, then another, and another, to ensure each man was in a photograph with the Kiwi. It was a wonderful experience. I picked up my camera and shook hands with each man in turn, grateful to be accepted, as Ataturk had intended that I should be. I had learnt a great deal about the Turks.

I continued towards the monument, trying to fit its massive size into a single picture. I saw a bas-relief of Corporal Seyit Onbasi again, photographed it and then walked up a few steps into the bulk of the building. Three young Turkish lads crowded around me.

“Where are you from?” The tallest of the three, perhaps as young as 17 years, with a sallow complexion and close-cropped hair, looked at me intently.
“Kiwi,” I said, missing out the formality of country.
“Kiwi!” They yelled in unison. They sat on the steps in front of me. “My name is Kagan,” said the tall one, solemnly. I wrote the word in my diary. “Nice name,” I said. “I’d like a name like that; it has a ring about it.”
“This is Emir,” he said with a smile, waving his hand to his left where sat a younger boy with long dark hair. “And this is Utku,” he said motioning to the young Turk in a brown sweatshirt on his right. I checked the spellings with each of them, wondering why they wanted to introduce themselves. The crowd of visitors swirled around us noisily. “Why are you here?” he asked.
I pointed in the direction of the Helles Memorial for the English, “I have visited a member of my family whose name is on that memorial.” I paused. “Why are you here?”
“Because it will be the 25th of April.”
“And you call it ANZAC Day. So do we.” If he was worried about the differences between us, they vanished.
“Selfie, selfie,” said Kagan, standing tall and beaming broadly. He produced his smartphone and took a quick snap of himself with me. “Me too, me too,” cried the others and they crowded even closer.
“Can I use your hat?” Kagan asked. I gave it to him and he gleefully pressed it down onto his head. I thought, what have I done? Is that the last I have seen of my hat? He lifted the smartphone again and dropped his arm around my right shoulder. I could hardly move. He was pressed against the stone pillar and I was pressed against him by Utku; his arm was draped over my left shoulder.
“Me too, me too!” Emir’s long black hair pushed under my arm, between my chest and Kagan, his dark brown eyes shining with excitement as he looked up to make sure he was in the shot.
“And me, and me!” A pretty blonde girl whom I had not noticed at all, with a swirl of green something – a jersey or a blouse or a skirt – flung herself onto the step in front of me and knelt down to see herself in the smartphone. Kagan took the selfie two, perhaps three times, to the delight and high amusement of everyone in the vicinity. They all stood up. Kagan took off my hat and gave it to me. I dropped it on my head. He was laughing and crying and showing the picture he had taken to anyone who wanted to see it. He turned back to me, stopped smiling, and held out his hand. “Thank you, thank you,” he said solemnly. He shook my hand with both of his and then each member of the group did the same, including the girl in green. I was very, very impressed with the Turks.

Some Explanations
The Turks do not refer to Gallipoli, the word is an anglicisation of Gelibolu, the Turkish name for this peninsula, so the word means nothing to them; they refer to this battle as the Canakkale Campaign, or the Battle of Canakkale. The word is pronounced Chen-ark-alay, with the stress on the middle syllable. The name is everywhere, and Aykut pointed out that Chunuk Bair (bair is a hill) is actually a corruption of Canakkale, and should say Canakkale Bair; the hill from which you can see Canakkale. The town itself is on the other side of the Dardanelles, directly opposite Eceabat.

Lifesize tableau of life in the trenches - found in Eceabat.

Lifesize tableau of life in the trenches – found in Eceabat.

While we were in Eceabat, and again while staying in Istanbul, we saw an incredible number of ships passing by or at anchor, and being joined by more with every passing hour. Many of these ships would put WW1 battleships into frigate size in comparison, but every now and again we would see a ship so large it dwarfed everything in sight. Even then, this gargantuan vessel was still travelling in excess of twenty knots.  When you see this volume and majesty of shipping in the Dardanelles, and in the Marmara Sea, waiting their turn to proceed, then you appreciate what the Turks were fighting for.

When we visited Chunuk Bair, I was late for the bus and Cemal came looking for me. She was perhaps twenty-five years old, quite tall, with long dark hair framing a serenely beautiful face highlighted by deep, dark eyes in a honey complexion. She had a red leather jacket over a blue jersey and shiny new Spanish ankle-boots. She had joined us from Eceabat and she had told us on the bus that she was attending two universities, one to study public relations and the other to study Turkish. She wanted money to pay for her tuition, and she wanted to improve her English, so now she was also a trainee guide, learning her country’s history at the same time. It was clear to her I was not heading for the bus.

“Where are you going?” She asked. I pointed through the trees to the huge Turkish stones with the stories on them and we threaded our way through and over the trenches that had been cut into this hilltop by an earlier generation of young men of about Cemal’s age.

“There is a big worry in our country that the government is removing all the changes that Ataturk made for us,” she said. “This is a country where everyone is a citizen and there is no special treatment for any religion.” I recognized the definition of secular. “But the government is passing laws to change that. Ataturk would not have liked it.” She paused as we were about to jump a trench. “I have a tattoo.”
I stopped my headlong flight to the stones. “A what?”

Elif's tatoo

Cemal’s tatoo

She rolled up the sleeve on her right arm. “It is Ataturk’s signing. He is my hero.” On the clear white skin of her forearm was indeed Ataturk’s signature. “Everyone who wants Turkey to be governed as a modern state has a copy of this somewhere so people can see.”
“A tattoo?”

“No, the writing might be on their car, or on their house. We love our country; many, many young men died for it and they died for Ataturk. We want our country to go forward as Ataturk wanted it to.”

Her earnest vision was clear and beautifully expressed. Elaine and I had received nothing but good will from all the Turks we had met. I hope that in a troubled world, she, and her country, manage to negotiate the churning seas that lap at its shores.


The New Zealand Herald of 14 April 2015 reported that Wellington and Canakkale had signed a sister city relationship. The Turkish ambassador to New Zealand, Mr Damla Yesim Say noted:
“All the fallen in Gallipoli are our grandfathers, and we are proof for posterity that people who once fought as enemies can proudly stand shoulder to shoulder today in remembrance of their grandfathers’ sacrifice, and in celebration of their friendship.”

Some figures

Elaine and I are from the Waikato and the Bay of Plenty respectively. From the towns and villages with which we are most familiar, here are some figures of the fatalities of World War 1, printed in the Waikato Times of 22 April 2015:

Hamilton 222
Morrinsville 10
Otorohanga 58
Paeroa 3
Piopio 19
Te Kuiti 30
Waitomo 1

“A few over 100,000 New Zealanders sailed to join the First World War. Of those 18,000 were killed and 40,000 were wounded.”

In 1914, the total population of New Zealand was 1.1 million.

Post Script

Elaine and I stayed in Istanbul for more than a week and visited the ANZAC sites of Gallipoli during April 2015, the centenary of the ANZAC landings, to discover the relationship we had with the momentous events of the Gallipoli Campaign. We found family members who had died there, and we found men from other families whom we hadn’t expected to come across.

What we never anticipated was the unabashed friendship that was extended to us when ordinary Turkish people met us and realised we were Kiwis. I told three stories above that illustrate this, but there were many, many others.

Our stay in Turkey was a revelation, and my one of my objectives in publishing this story is to express our deep gratitude to TJ’s Tours of Eceabat and his staff who worked tirelessly to ensure we were given every opportunity to explore Gallipoli to the fullest extent possible in the time we had.


Who on Earth was Montague Tearle?

By Ewart Tearle

Mar 2015

For a very long time, only two sets of records existed for Montague Tearle; his marriage in the third quarter of 1915 to Lilian A Boulter in Derby, and his death in 1939, aged 63, somewhere in Hackney, London. There was no record of a birth certificate. The second set was from Chelsea Hospital, and consisted of his military and health records.

He enlisted for the army on 10 Oct 1915. The recruiting officer wrote his name as Montague Tearle, but his signature was Monty Tearle. He was given the military number 5006 and on attestation day he was put in the 19th (County of London) Battalion, The London Regiment, headquartered in Camden Town. Monty’s home address was 10 Nelson Street, Derby.

Montague Tearle attestation for Territorial Force

Montague Tearle attestation for Territorial Force

The second page of Montague’s army record was his Medical Inspection Report, which was conducted on 23 Oct 1915. He was 38yrs 6mth old, 5ft 10.5in tall with a 37in girth he could expand and contract by 2in. His vision in both eyes was 6/6, and his physical development was good. He was pronounced fit for service, subject to some dental treatment.

The third page recorded his acceptance of the service obligation – to serve anywhere he was posted and in whatever corps he may find himself at any time, subject to a condition placed on the army itself not to post him on any transfer where he would suffer a loss in pay. He duly signed that one.

The fourth and fifth pages are a double page of the same book – his service. It only has a few lines. He was “embodied” in the army as a Private (their capitals) from 13 Oct 1915 to 26 Apr 1916, a total of 197 days. A sad note on the left-hand page says, “…. Kings Regs; Not likely to become an efficient soldier on Medical Grounds” again, their capitals. Dated 24 April 1916. His record was “Home” meaning anywhere in Britan, including Ireland, 13/10/15 to 24/4/16. So he had no claim to any service medals, and no claim to pension. His next of kin was “Brother – Walter Tearle, 16 Churchill Rd, Birmingham.”

Montague leaves the army

Montague leaves the army

However, Montague did claim for pension: The next document from Chelsea Hospital was dated 29 June 1916 with a determination made on 15 July 1916 – Montague Tearle 5006, with regard to claim for pension: Rejected. What was he thinking of? All claims to pension were based on the number of days a soldier was in the army, so long as he had a posting abroad. Montague would have known that – he was trying it on.

He had another go in 1929 – the last two documents are from Chelsea Hospital and they record a request for information from the Kent County Police on 1 Sep 1929 to the London Infantry Record Office stating that Montague Tearle was under the care of the doctor in charge, British Legion Village, Preston Hall, Aylesford. “Some doubt exists as to the genuineness of this case, and I shall be glad if you would furnish me the particulars of … his service, and his description.” On 6 Sep 1929, the Chelsea Hospital received the form requesting the discharge documents “for the purpose of being annexed to his later Discharge to pension.” It would appear he was again claiming his pension, hoping that time had dulled the bureaucrats, or he was trying to stay in a soldier’s care home to which he only had access if he was on pension.

At first appearance, Montague’s request to join the army seems to be for the best of motives – he was 38yrs old and he was going to fight for his country. But in the light of his later activities this impulse looks a little less than the self-sacrifice he intended it to appear. He gets free dental treatment on the army and for 197 days he was quartered for free, as well actually being paid.

He does not appear (and neither does Walter Tearle) in any census from 1880 to 1911. There is no birth record for a Montague Tearle and all the Walter Tearles (nine of them) are accounted for in other families.

Ten years after Montague and his very reticent (not to mention almost invisible) brother came to light, Barbara Tearle of Oxford unearthed some newspaper clippings that recorded some of Montague’s activities. They are not pretty.

Bath Chronicle Thu 30 May 1907

Cyril Dudley Vincent, a music hall artist, was in the Bath City Police Court for having produced documents to back up a claim of having money, and asking for a loan on the strength of the documents. He raised the loan, but couldn’t pay the lender, hence he landed in court on charges of false pretences. The name on the letter was Montague Tearle, who said Cyril was a property-owning gentleman. It turns out that Cyril in the dock, and Montague on the documents, were the same man.

Montague never has any money, but he lives the life of a gentleman of quality. He uses the conventions of the gentleman to con the unwary and the trusting. We can see, above, that Montague joined the army in 1915; in the light of just this one conviction, it would not appear that the army was too concerned about the moral or criminal behaviour of its recruits for the Great War.

Morpeth Herald and Reporter Fri 26 Jan 1917

The Theatre Royal in Blyth, Northumberland, was opened in 1900. It was a well-known and well-respected local institution by 1917, when Montague Tearle became its manager. This report in the Morpeth Herald, which often had articles on Blyth, centres on Mr Tearle’s capacity as a very popular man who raised the considerable sum of £10 3s 6d for a local military charity. Mr Tearle, it was noted, was the son of a most famous Shakespearian actor, Edmund Tearle, who had played to Blyth audiences in this very theatre. Mr Tearle’s role as an ex-soldier in the Pals Battalion of the London Regiment was noted by the gold braid badge of honour on his sleeve and the stories of his exploits since 1914 in the Great War, where he had fought in the Battle of Loos in France, been injured and gassed and finally passed out of the army due to ill health. Sadly he was leaving the Blyth Theatre for the Raynor’s Repertoire Company as General Manager. He was later presented with a handsome silver Treasury note-case by a group of military officers.

It is quite likely that none of this is true; Montague was probably not the manager of the Blyth Theatre Royal, and the paper has not checked his assertion. He has raised £10 3s 6d and equally probably kept it all. He is not the son of Edmund Tearle of Leighton Buzzard, who was indeed a famous actor/manager but he is very keen to trade on Edmund’s name. Within nine months of leaving the army, he has literally embroidered his jacket cuff to embellish his story as a Great War veteran. As we know, he was never in France, never gassed, but he was invalided out of the army – one tiny fact to ground all the war stories he is happy to relate. He is leaving Blyth in a hurry, and stole a silver Treasury note-case on his way out. If we take another look at the 1907 court case, there are some similarities, which show a pattern in his behaviour – he is always in theatre, sometimes a manager, an actor, or an agent. This is why he has adopted the name Tearle: his contemporaries are George “Osmund” Tearle the actor/manager, Osmund Tearle (son of George) the actor manager, Edmund Tearle the actor/manager and possibly by now some whispering of the genius of Godfrey Tearle (born 1884) also making his way towards theatrical fame. The name is beginning to have some credibility.

Bucks Herald 15 Oct 1921

Montague Tearle, aged 46, of Leicester, a theatrical agent, was in the dock at the Bucks Assizes, charged with the theft of 8 Treasury notes valued at £5 10s, a 10s Treasury note and 7s 6d from various people overnighting in the Railway Hotel, Linslade. He was found guilty because everyone who had been stolen from had wax droplets in their room, and Montague was the only person who had a candle. The judge noted that between 1892 and 1905, Montague had been convicted in various courts no less than 15 times. Since 1905, he had been imprisoned for two terms of five years and there were other terms of imprisonment with hard labour. The prisoner wanted another chance, saying that his offending was due to the difficulty of finding work, and that he was very sick, spitting blood, and wanting to get back to Leicester. The prison governor said his sickness was due to refusing to eat while he was in prison since 31 August, awaiting trial. The judge sentenced Montague to twelve months in prison. This story was gleefully retold by The Northampton Mercury on Friday 21 October under the headline TRACED BY CANDLE GREASE.

Montague has even gone to Leighton Buzzard, the home of Edmund Tearle. What did they think there of a man claiming to be Edmund Tearle’s son, but speaks with a Yorkshire accent? Has he borrowed someone else’s accent as well while he is in Bedfordshire? The story above would be amusing if it wasn’t at the same time quite tragic. Montague’s life is a mess; look at the sorry list of convictions the judge above has noted, and the two terms of five years in gaol. He is 46 years old, and he has spent no less than 10yrs in prison. If he is spitting blood, does he also have TB?

The Herald 29 Mar 1924

The Leicester newspaper reported that Montague Tearle had appeared on bail in the Tamworth Borough Petty Sessions charged with arrears on an affiliation order. The arrears went as far back as 1918 and amounted to £60. Montague argued he had been very sick in hospital and in a sanatorium. He had found it difficult securing work due to his illness, but he thought he had a promise of work, and as soon as the doctor would allow him back to work, he would be able to pay the arrears at the rate of 10s per week. The mayor said the magistrates would give Montague the chance to repay at the stated amount.

Leicester is where Montague has housed his wife – his very long-suffering wife, Lillian – and Montague is pointing to ill health as a reason for his misfortune. It is relatively true – surely you can’t blag your way out of a war-time army by feigning sickness. And it may also be true that sickness has largely prevented him from keeping a job, but perhaps also there is a moral sickness, and he just cannot help himself from seeking the rush of pleasure he must have felt when he successfully talked someone out of their money.

Lincolnshire Echo Fri 20 Nov 1925:

Charged in the Ilkeston Police Court on false pretences. He had told the court he was a theatrical agent and was in Ilkeston on the chance of getting a job at the local theatre. He was remanded for a week.

There is no later edition to say what happened next – and whether he was convicted – but there are worrying similarities to other appearances in court: false pretences, theatrical agent, looking for work …

Pat Field of the Yahoo Tearle Group, noticed that Lillian A Boulter was listed twice in the marriages index, once with Montague Tearle and again with a William Woollen. Also, if William Woollen’s marriage listing in the index was examined closely, William Woollen also married a Lillian A Boulter on the same day, in the same place – Derby. She also noticed that Montague Tearle and William Woollen had the same date of death, and the same address; furthermore, they were on the same page of the index:

Montague’s marriage was in the Oct-Nov-Dec quarter of 1915 – around the same time he joined the army, and of course his address is Derby; that is where he was so recently married. Is it significant? Did Lillian have some savings? Or did he want the respectability of being a married man?

The story of the censuses

In order to uncover the story of a person between 1841 and 1911, the censuses are a reliable and necessary resource. In this case, they provided conclusive evidence of Montague’s identity.


Since Montague was born in 1874/5 he should have been in the 1881 census, and since he had mentioned a brother, Walter, then there should be a family containing a Montague and his brother Walter. There was no Montague Tearle, but there was a William Woollen born 1875 in Sheffield with an older brother Walter E Woollen. They are living with their parents, William J, 31, who was a silversmith born in Wath, Yorkshire and mother Lucy, aged 31, from Ince in Warwickshire. There are four Waths in Yorkshire, but we can safely say that William J Woollen was a Yorkshireman.


William is 16 and he is a lithographer, Walter Edwin, the elder brother, is 19 and he is a warehouse assistant, while their father William James, now aged 41 has given up silversmithing and he has become a journalist.


Walter Edwin is 29, a warehouse sales assistant, and he has married a girl from his home town of Sheffield called Alice Maud Kenyon. Alice’s father and sister are living with them. Walter’s own father William J, who has returned to silversmithing, and mother Lucy E are living in Albert Road, Sheffield. There is no sign of William Woollen 1875, nor of Montague Tearle. Was he in prison?


We now find out which Wath William James Woollen comes from: Wath-on-Dearne in South Yorkshire. He is 60 years old and still a silversmith. Lucy Ellen is 60, they have been married 39 years and had two children, neither of whom has yet died.

Walter Edwin, 39, is a clerk in a motor manufacturer’s factory in Birmingham. He is living with his wife, Maud and a boarder, who is a fellow clerk from work. More importantly, the 1911 census gives us the final, unimpeachable proof of who Montague really is. His brother Walter Tearle who lives at 16 Churchill Rd, Birmingham is actually his brother, Walter Edwin Woollen. Montague is unmasked – his real name is William Wollen, born 1875 in Sheffield, the son of a South Yorkshire silversmith. There is absolutely no sign of William Woollen 1875, nor of Montague Tearle, in this census. Was he in prison – again?

Not being in the censuses of 1901 and 1911 does not indicate that Montague was not working, nor was William Woollen completely buried as an identity. It is quite likely that Montague was either in prison, or he was being careful to stay away from the census enumerator.

We can go full circle now: we can join up William Woollen, the boy in the working-class neighbourhood of 1881, to Montague Tearle, the ne’er-do-well of the newspaper reports and the army recruit of 1915. In giving his next-of-kin as Walter of 16 Churchill Rd, Birmingham, Montague gave us one small fact amongst all the distractions, and that one fact told us who he really was.

1911 Walter Edwin Woollen 1872 of 16 Churchill Rd Birmingham



Staples Inn

Staples Inn is not so much an institution as an experience. It used to be one of the Chancery Inns that legal students signed up to and then moved on to Gray’s Inn. These days the buildings are full of (mostly) legal chambers, but they do not appear to have a teaching motive, as Gray’s Inn does. Dickens had a very soft spot for Staples Inn and you can see why in the pictures on this page. If you leave Holborn and go up to High Holborn, you’ll see an archway under the big black and white Tudor building on the intersection of Grays Inn Rd and High Holborn. You will walk into the cool, dappled light of the courtyard right. You can read the signs over the doorways and discover that when they rebuilt the buildings after a bomb destroyed them in the Blitz, they used as many timbers from the original buildings as they could find. There is an archway in the building on the other side of the square and you then walk into the beautiful garden immediately below with its lovely fountain.

Staple’s Inn courtyard

Staple’s Inn courtyard

Dickens described Staples Inn as a ‘little nook composed of two irregular quadrangles’ in Edwin Drood. You have to agree with him. It’s not public land like a park, but there are no restrictions except you can be removed by the servants if you make noise or enter with a dog….

Staple's inn

Staple’s inn

Dickens: “It is one of those nooks the turning into which out of the clashing street, imparts to the relieved pedestrian the sensation of having put cotton in his ears, and velvet soles on his boots. “ I couldn’t agree more, the atmosphere is still exactly as Dickens described it.

Dickens further says, “Moreover, it is one of those nooks which are legal nooks; and it contains a little Hall (below) with a little lantern in its roof: to what obstructive purposes devoted, and at whose expense, this history knoweth not.”

The Hall, Staple’s Inn

The Hall, Staple’s Inn

The clock, dated 1757, is accurate. You won’t be late back to work. You can just see this clock on the Hall, by the windows above the door.




St Paul’s Cathedral

One thing about St Pauls that always takes your breath away is just how magnificent it is. It’s not just huge, it’s not just majestic and it’s not just tall, St Pauls is a monument on the grandest scale; one man’s vision of how God himself should be housed. We have this world landmark  building within 10min walk of us and it has always inspired. It was once a huge, square Norman church with a tall crossing tower, that glowered over London but the flames of the Great Fire of 1666 were so hot the lead from its roof ran molten down the streets and the church was destroyed. From such destruction came the inspiration to build in a way that would awe even the Romans. The view in the photo on the right is from Canon St across St Pauls Gardens.

When Sir Christopher Wren was given the sole charter to rebuild the churches of London City, he also submitted a plan to redesign the streets in the grand manner of the piazzas of the great cities of Italy. However, local laws and landowners rights overruled him and he had to stay within the existing street patterns. What a difference he would have made to London if he had been allowed! In the event he fudged his plans for St Pauls and made the church much bigger than he had permission for.

St Paul’s Cathedral from Canon St

St Paul’s Cathedral from Canon St

Below is Cardinal Cap Alley on the Bankside end of the Millennium Bridge. Sir Christopher Wren lived in this little white block cottage and often stood in the alley to survey his beautiful, growing creation.


St Pauls is more than just a building; it is an inspiration on the grandest scale. There are always people sitting, meeting and chatting on its steps. Visitors to London who come to see it are often moved to express themselves and their cultures in the amphitheatre created by its steps and the magnificent background of its columns. This busload of students could not contain themselves and in sheer exuberance leapt from their coach and danced in the sunlight on its steps.

On the steps of St Paul’s

On the steps of St Paul’s


Sir William Walworth

This chap was Sir William Walworth. He was lord mayor of London in the late 1300s, during the reign of Richard II. Washington Irving said of him: “That doughty champion, William Walworth, knight, who so manfully clove down the sturdy wight, Wat Tyler, in Smithfield; a hero worthy of honourable blazon, as almost the only Lord Mayor on record famous for deeds of arms:- the sovereigns of Cockney being generally renowned as the most pacific of all potentates.” You will remember Wat Tyler from your high school history as the leader of the Peasants’ Revolt, a group protesting a Medieval poll tax. In those days, protest was regarded as treason and therefore a capital offence. The group fought its way into London to see the king, who offered to meet them in Smithfield.


After Wat Tyler had given his demands to the king, Sir William mortally wounded him, and then later dragged him from his death bed in St Bartholomew’s Hospital and beheaded him. “Thus ending his miserable life,” said the chronicler. Tyler was, after all, only a peasant. The king gave everyone in the protest a pardon and let them disperse, even escorting the Kentish contingent over London Bridge to ensure safe passage. He then send “messengers” all over England to hunt for and summarily execute all the peasants who were in the revolt in London that day. Walworth was awarded a knighthood and a pension and it is his dagger which is in the left-hand corner of St George’s cross, which is the emblem for London City.  Dick Whittington was Lord Mayor very soon afterwards.

This beautiful and elegant Victorian bridge (below) over Farringdon St is Holborn Viaduct. Sir William’s statue stands on the first floor (see below) of the stone building above the stairs.

Holborn Viaduct from Farringdon Rd

Holborn Viaduct from Farringdon Rd

Sir William was a member, as was his father, of the Fishmongers Guild, from which he rose to be alderman and then mayor. He was buried in St Michaels Church, Crooked Lane, which was destroyed by the Great Fire. The replacement Wren church was demolished in 1831 to make way for King William St, which takes you from London Bridge up onto Cheapside. I have asked all the churches in the area and no-one knows where he lies now, nor where his memorial is.

This is Walworth House, and there are three identical buildings on Holborn Viaduct sitting as guardians of the stairs down to Farringdon Rd.

Walworth House, Holborn Viaduct

Walworth House, Holborn Viaduct