Every day on the British Army Ancestors Facebook page I take time to commemorate a British soldier. This post will look at two of the men I have remembered recently – and a family scene on the eve of the First World War. From left to right, Henry Tyers, Horace Williams and “Melrose”.
Henry Tyers was photographed in one of David Knights-Whittome’s studios on the 8th March 1916. At the time the photo was taken he was 900 Company Sergeant Major H Tyers of the 18th (County of London) Battalion, the London Regiment and when the Territorial Force was re-numbered in early 1917 he was issued with a new six-digit number, 590062.
Regimental numbers from both series were issued sequentially and understanding this it is possible to work out that Henry must have originally joined the battalion in May 1909. He was the 900th man to join the battalion since April 1908 but by the time new numbers were issued in January 1917, there were only 62 of those original 900 recruits still serving with the battalion (re-numbering had started at 590001).
Henry, who lived in Fulham, would have a distinguished career with the 18th London Regiment and would be awarded the DCM in 1918. The citation reads, “For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. When the enemy attempted to turn the flank he collected a party of men and manned a post, putting a hostile machine gun out of action, himself accounting for three of the team. Later, when in a cellar which was blown in, he dug himself out and at once, started to dig out the remainder of the party. By his prompt action he saved several lives (03.09.1918).”
As well as the DCM, Henry was also awarded the 1914-15 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal, and Territorial Force Efficiency Medal. He was also entitled to wear the silver war badge.
PS/2242 Sergeant Horace Williams were taken in one of David Knights-Whittome’s studios on the 6th January 1915. Horace would have been aged about eighteen at the time, but he was already a sergeant with the 18th (Public Schools) Battalion, Royal Fusiliers, and also a drummer, judging by the appointment badge above his sergeant’s chevrons.
Later commissioned, Horrace lost his life on the 17th October 1918 at the age of 21. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission records that Lt H G Williams, the son of Mr E A and Mrs E M Williams, of 6 Rectory Rd, Beckenham, Kent died whilst serving with the 2nd Battalion, York & Lancaster Regiment. He is buried in Brancourt-Le-Grand Military Cemetery.
The only information I have about this photo is what is visible on the front of it. “Melrose” is probably Melrose Cottages, Hertford Street, Ramsgate, and the date of the photo is Bank Holiday Monday, the 2nd August 1914, the day before Britain went to war with Germany.
The 1911 Census notes that William and Bessie Thorp were living at 1 Melrose Cottages with four of their six surviving children (three having died before that census was taken). It’s possible that this is the Thorp family, a real ‘calm before the storm’ on the eve of the greatest conflict the world had ever seen.