Lieutenant, later Captain, Alexander Tait served with 11 DLI before transferring to the Royal Engineers. In the latter capacity he was awarded the Military Cross, dated 3 June 1918. He commenced service as 2nd Lt with 11 DLI, going overseas with the battalion on 20 July 1915. He survived the war, applying for his medals on 29 December 1919 when he was living at Block J, Victoria Garden Suburb, Ebbw Vale, Monmouthshire. He acknowledged receipt of these on 29 February 1920, when his address was Belgrave, Coxhoe SO, Durham.
Tansey, Joseph Alfred
Private 16073, aged 34, from Hinckley, Leicestershire, was killed in action 16 August 1917, and is buried in Bard Cottage Cemetery, Boezinge. He was the son of William and Betsy Tansey of Sapcote, Hinckley, and had enlisted in 1914. Despite his origins, he served with 11 DLI from the beginning, going overseas with them on 20 July 1915.
In 1911 he was aged 28 and living at home, unmarried, with his mother Betsy a sister, Grace and an elderly widow, Mary Groocock aged 82. He worked as a sett maker in a granite quarry. His father was not listed at home but was working, aged 55, as a sett maker in a whinstone quarry at Alnwick in Northumberland, where he was boarding. This might suggest that one or both men were working in the north east at the outbreak of the war. Joseph enlisted in Newcastle on Tyne, though he gave his home address as Hinckley.
Taylor, John George
John George Taylor originally went out to France on 11 February 1916 as a Lieutenant serving with a battalion of the DLI. He rose to the rank of Captain and served at the rank of Major with 11 DLI. He was awarded the Military Cross, London Gazette 1 January 1917. It is not clear whether this was while serving with 11 DLI or another battalion. He applied for his campaign medals on 29 March 1922 from an address at 3 Outram Street, Stockton on Tees.
Private 15151 Robert Taylor, aged 32, from Haswell, was killed in action 16 August 1917, and is buried at Bard Cottage Cemetery, Boezinge.
Taylor enlisted at West Hartlepool 31 August 1914. He was born Ryhope, Sunderland, aged 29 yrs 110 days, coal miner, married. He had previously served 3 weeks with DLI as a regular but bought himself out in 1903. He admitted to having served 1 month in prison in default of paying maintenance for an illegitimate child [see below]. He was 5ft 4 in, 123 lbs, 34 in chest, fresh complexion, grey eyes, dark brown hair, C of E. He bore tattoos: RT plus cross on left forearm; 3 scars on right forearm; mole on lower part of body.
He was married to Mary Ann Taylor, of Mary Street, Haswell Co Durham. There were three children: Olive May (b 1908), David Blyth (b 1909), Robert (b 1915). Mrs Taylor received an allowance of 28s and was awarded a pension of 26s 3d for herself and three children, from 4 March 1918.
Following enlistment Taylor was posted to 11 DLI.
6 October 1914, Woking – drunk, disturbance in camp at 10.15 pm – 2 days pay
19 December 1914, Pirbright – overstaying pass to 27 December- 10 days CB, 8 days pay
21 March 1915, North Chapel – cruelty to horse, 14 days FP No 2, 14 days pay
17 April 1915, Lark Hill – disobedience and grave irregular conduct – case dismissed
4 June 1915, Lark Hill – using insubordinate language – 28 days detention, 28 days pay
20 July 1915, proceeded overseas with battalion
30 October 1915, admitted 60 FA, gsw face and shoulder, to duty 5/11/1915
18 June 1916, deducted 1 days pay (no reason stated)
12 September 1916, to be paid acting L Corporal vice Allford
4 November 1916, Special leave to UK
6 April 1917, deprived of rank (no reason stated)
3 June 1917, admitted 61 FA gsw to head – to duty 7 June 1917
16 August 1917, killed in action, serving with A Company
In August 1917, 11 DLI were based on the bank of the Yser Canal at Ypres. They were involved in preparations for an attack on Pilckem Ridge and the village of Langemarck, creating communications networks: road, railway and trenches. Overlooked by the German forces they were constantly under fire from artillery, including gas shells. There was a steady attrition of men being wounded or killed, with 65 officers and men being struck off as sick, wounded or killed during the month.
The issue with maintenance was raised by a Mrs Jane Watson. On the advice of a solicitor, she wrote to the War Office to get maintenance for her illegitimate child by Robert Taylor. Taylor’s family had refused to give her details of his whereabouts and said he was serving with the Yorkshire Regiment, but he was tracked down to 11 DLI when still in training based at North Chapel. He admitted to the order, which had been originally served 18 December 1909 to Jane Davis then of 23 George St, Silkworth for a child born 28 October 1909. He was to pay 3s per week until the child was aged 16 and 37s 6d costs. The military arranged that he would pay arrears through stoppage of army pay at 4d a day, to increase to 7d a day if he attained rank of Sergeant. There is no record as to whether Jane Watson received anything following his death – possibly not, as she had obviously married.
Private 18820 William Taylor was killed in action 30 November 1915, and is buried at Rue-du-Bacquerot Military Cemetery.
He enlisted at Birtley 9 September 1914, was born Portobello, Durham, aged 22 yrs 6 months, coal miner, married. He stood 5ft 9 ¾ , weighed 149 lbs, was 35 in chest, fair complexion, grey eyes, light born hair, C of E. He was allocated to 11 DLI.
On 12 October 1914 at Woking he was absent from tattoo and sentenced to 5 days confined to barracks. On 9 January 1915 at Pirbright he was absent until 12 January, for which he received 6 days confined to barracks and lost three days pay. He was absent again on 9 April 1915 while at Lark Hill and returned on 19 April, for which he was given 14 days FP No 2, deducted 14 days pay initially, then a further 11 days.
He went overseas with the battalion on 20 July 1915. On 12 October 1915 he was admitted to 61 Field Ambulance with gastric enteritis and returned to duty on 16 October. He was killed in action serving with D Company on 3 November 1915, when 11 DLI were doing a stint in the trenches having relieved 12 KRRC.
He left a widow, Eliza Ann Taylor, of 5 Mays Cottage, Windy Nook, and there were children: Elizabeth (born 1912), William (1914), Thomasina Ann (26 April1916). She was awarded a pension of 20s 6d.
Note: in the papers was a document showing return of his pay book to York RO along with that of 10374 Pte McGregor.
Taylor, William Henry
Private 46378 William Henry (or Henry William) Taylor, aged 26, born Liverpool and enlisting in Bradford, died of bronchitis while serving overseas post-war on 19 November 1919, and is buried Étaples Military Cemetery. He was probably a conscript and served initially as Private 5/59911 in a Training Reserve Battalion before allocation to 11 DLI. He was the husband of Edith Wardman (formerly Taylor) of 194 Ryan Street, West Bowling, Bradford.
Private 3/10394 Thomas Thew, railway platform porter aged 30, from Warkworth, died as a prisoner of war at Stendhal 12 June 1918. He was re-buried after the war at Roye New British Cemetery. He served with D Company and was probably captured about 24 March 1918. His service records have not survived. He worked for the North Eastern Railway company and his photograph appears in the company magazine in their rolls of honour.
Thomas was the son of Edward and Elizabeth Thew and the husband of Mary A Cox (formerly Thew) of 99 Fairview Road, Stamford Hill, London.
Thompson, Austin Sampson
Private 16472 Austin Sampson Thompson, aged 32, from Gateshead, missing presumed killed in action 22 March 1918, commemorated Pozières Memorial. He was the son of William and Hannah Brown Thompson of Gateshead. In the 1911 census he is recorded aged 23 as Sampson Austin Thompson living at 45 Herbert Terrace, Gateshead, with his parents and five siblings. He worked as a butcher and was unmarried.
Private 22751 James Thompson died as prisoner of war awaiting repatriation, 13 November 1918, and is buried at Poznan Old Garrison Cemetery.
He attested at Gateshead 25 August 1914, aged 21 yrs 10 months, glass maker, 5ft 5¼, 121 lbs, 34 in chest, fresh complexion, brown eyes and hair, C of E. His mother was Elizabeth Thompson, of 17 Charles St, Gateshead
He was allocated to 3 DLI initially and transferred to 16 DLI on 26 October 1914 for further training. He went out as part of a batch on 4 August 1915 to join 11 DLI. On 11 September 1916 he was returned to Depot and then admitted to Huddersfield War Hospital for 41 days with laryngitis, released on 21 October. On 1 November he was sent to Rugeley Camp, while nominally attached to 3 DLI. He was absent from tattoo at Rugeley on 27 December 1916, confined to camp for seven days and forfeited two days pay. He rejoined 11 DLI on 8 January 1917 in France. Details in service records from there on are non-existent, but he appears to have been captured, probably during March 1918. He died 13 November 1918 and was buried at Poznan Old Cemetery.
Thompson, James Martin
Private 12291 James Martin Thompson was killed in action 20 September 1916, and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial. He was born at Healeyfield, Consett, was living at Rowley, Consett on enlistment, at Chester le Street. He served with 11 DLI from the outset, going overseas with the battalion on 20 July 1915.
Private 12802 William Thompson, from Seaham, died of wounds 14 July 1918, buried Mont Huon Military Cemetery, Le Tréport. He originally went overseas on 21 May 1915 with 10 DLI and was later transferred to 11 DLI.
Thorpe, Walter L
Sergeant 21503 Walter L Thorpe was mentioned in despatches, London Gazette 4 January 1917. He originally went overseas with 11 DLI as a private on 20 July 1915 and was later promoted to WO Class II. No further information.
Private 16685 John Thrower was killed in action 3 September 1916, has no grave, and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial. B Company.
He was born in Byker and enlisted Gateshead 26 August 1914, 23 yrs old, miner, married, 5ft 4¼, 136 lbs, 38 in chest. On 28 August he was allocated to 11 DLI. There were a number of misdemeanours during training. On 26 October 1914 at Woking he was absent off pass until 28 October, for which he got 3 days confined to barracks and lost 3 days pay. On 6 March 1915 at North Chapel he was absent off pass to 9 March, got 5 days CB, and lost 3 days pay. On 19 April 1915 at Lark Hill he was not shaved on parade, and got 7 days CB. On 24 May 1915 at Lark Hill he overstayed his pass to 28 May and got 10 days FP No 2, losing 4 days pay.
He went overseas with the battalion on 20 July 1915. He continued in trouble in France. On 6 August 1915 he was awarded FP No 2 for seven days, lost 5 days pay – purpose not listed. On 16 August he got a further seven days CB, losing 7 days pay – purpose not listed. On 31 January 1916 he got FP No 2 for seven days – purpose not listed.
He reported sick to 60 Field Ambulance on 13 March 1916, with P.U.O. and went to 20 DRS on 16 March, returning to unit on 19 March. With the same complaint he reported to 62 FA on 1 April 1916, again to 20 DRS and back to his unit on 9 April. On 3 September 1916 he was reported missing, presumed killed in action, confirmed on 22 November 1916, while serving with B Company.
He left a widow, Mrs CW Thrower, of 115 Thornborough St, Byker, who got a pension of 18s 9d for herself and 1 child from 28 May 1917.
Private 53222 Lawrence Tipling was probably a conscript. He enlisted 29 February 1916 and was discharged 27 May 1918, being issued with the Silver War Badge at that time, aged 24. He was almost certainly the Laurance [sic] Tipling aged 17, fish frier, son of Henry and Hannah Tipling of 22 Brunswick Terrace Camp Road, Leeds in the 1911 Census.
Toll, Frederick Samuel
Private 376883 Frederick Samuel Toll, aged 26, from Handsworth, Birmingham, missing presumed killed in action 23 March 1918, commemorated Pozières Memorial. He was the son of William Toll of 59 Fentham Road, Handsworth, Birmingham. He originally served as 241119 Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Regiment. In 1911 he lived at 21 William Street, Lozells, Aston, Birmingham with his father William Toll, a widower and metal stamper. Fredrick (sic) Samuel was aged 20, single and worked as a clerk in a Colonial Merchants in the hardware section. His medal index card suggests that he was conscripted.
Tollit, George Hugh
TNA Reference: WO 339/16636 (mainly medical reports).
Tollit was a former regular soldier. Tollit was already rather elderly when he was recruited to his post with 11 DLI. A medical report for 24 January 1917 describes him as ‘prematurely aged’, suffering from rheumatism in both legs below the knee. He had already had 17 years in the Indian Service [which means he is unlikely to figure in the 1901 census]. At the time of recruitment he was living at 7 Clarendon Road, Walthamstow and probably wanted to do his bit – which is probably why he was made quartermaster with a Pioneer battalion, building on his military experience but not too trying to his health.
He was born in 1872, married, and at the time of a report on his medical condition in April 1917 was already 46 years old. He was given sick leave with ‘myalgia’ (rheumatism) returning to his unit in May 1917. His service notes report him as Temporary Lieutenant on 17 December 1917, and mentioned in despatches on 21 December. He was mentioned in despatches again, 9 July 1919.
The accounts of the battalion actions at Cambrai show him rescuing the battalion papers, racing back by car and then fetching reinforcements when the Germans launched their counter-offensive. His quick thinking and action, despite his age and health, was a major contribution to the ability of the British to hold their line on Welsh Ridge.
Battalion war diary records show him taking over as adjutant in place of Arthur Dawson from 1 August 1916 to 20 January 1917, briefly again from 16 July 1917 to 10 October, and then continuously from 11 October 1917 through to the scaling down and final demobilisation of the battalion. He was therefore responsible for including the various remarks about conditions in December 1916.
On 12 February 1918 he was promoted Temporary Captain with effect from 15 September 1917. He appears to have therefore survived the impact of the German Offensive of March 1918. On 22 October 1918 he was given leave to the UK, returning 4 November 1918, shortly before the end of the war. He was demobilised at Crystal Palace on 13 November 1919, at which time his home address was given as 75 Marine Drive, Nore, Essex.
Towlson, Vernon Edward
Second Lieutenant Vernon Edward Towlson first went overseas on 16 January 1917 to serve with 11 DLI, but later transferred at the rank of full Lieutenant to 13 DLI. He applied for his medals 16 January 1922 from an address at Monument House, St Mary Square, Gloucester. In 1911, at the age of 20, he was a Land Agent’s Pupil boarding at 36 Talbot Street, Rugeley in Staffordshire.
Private 17471 James Traynor, aged 29, was killed in action 25 August 1916, and is buried at Dantzig Alley British Cemetery.
Traynor enlisted at Stanley 26 August 1914, was born Stanley, aged 27 yrs 2 months, miner, not married. He stood 5ft 5½, weighed 123 lbs, was 35½ in chest, fresh complexion, brown eyes, dark brown hair, 3 tattooed crosses on left forearm. He was allocated to 11 DLI and served with B Company, going overseas with the battalion on 20 July 1915.
The only item of bad conduct in training was at North Chapel on 18 March 1915 when he was given two days confined to barracks for smoking a cigarette on parade.
His next of kin was his mother, Mrs MA Traynor, 52 John Street, Co-operative Villas, Beamish. He also had three sisters according to his service records. He was listed in the 1911 census as James Trainor, living at 52 John Street, Beamish, aged 24 and working as a coal miner. He was the main breadwinner for his widowed mother and two sisters living at home, Rose Anne and Isabel. They also had two boarders, both coal miners like James. His mother later was living at 43 Bothal Street, Byker, Newcastle – possibly having lost the use of a tied house at Beamish.
Private 22536 Alfred Turner, aged 20, died of wounds 2 October 1915, and is buried in Merville Communal Cemetery. C Company.
According to his service records, he enlisted at Gateshead on 16 December 1914, aged 19 yrs 177 days. He was a labourer, living at 10 Windermere St, Coatsworth Road, Gateshead. He stood 5ft 6 ¾ in, weighed 130 lbs, with a 36in chest, and a scar on his left leg. Initially he was allocated to 17 DLI for training and went out to join 11 DLI in France on 17 August 1915. He served with C Company.
On 2 October 1915 he was admitted to 7 Casualty Clearing Station Merville with a wound to the head, but died the same day.
Next of kin for the will was older brother, James William Turner and his wife Mrs ALH Turner of 193 Coatsworth Road, Gateshead – there were two brothers, three sisters, his mother (Harriet Turner) was dead and father’s whereabouts not certain. The father wrote later asking for his things (Christopher Turner, 13 Denham Terrace, Wallsend) – but would have received a letter pointing out the terms of the will.
Several items have been deposited at Durham County Record Office which provide further information:
7/719/1 The Small Book of Alfred Turner
22536 Private E/156130/1
Enlisted Gateshead 15 December 1914 aged 19 years and 177 days for the duration of the war. Born in parish of Low Fell, Durham he worked as a labourer and lived at 10 Windermere Catherley and later at 193 Coatsworth Road, Gateshead. He was 5 ft 6 ¾ in tall and had a scar on his left leg from a dog bite. He was Wesleyan and nominated his brother James William Turner as his next of kin, at 10 Windermere Avenue. The will was not completed but the book was signed and witnessed by Captain T Sinclair, dated 13 August 1915
7/719/2 Army Form B.104-82
Letter stamped Infantry Records York, dated 11 October 1915 addressed to Mr J W Turner, 10 Windermere Street, Coatsworth Road, Gateshead:
“It is my painful duty to inform you that a report has been received from the War Office notifying the death of 22536 Private Alfred Turner, 11th Battalion DLI which occurred at Merville France on 2 October 1915. He died of wounds.”
7/719/3 Army Form B104-45
Letter from Infantry Office York dated 13 October 1915
“I beg to acknowledge receipt of your communication of the 11th inst relative to 22536 Pte Alfred Turner, 11th Battalion Durham Light Infantry, and regret to inform you that this soldier died of wounds on 2/10/1915. His brother was notified of this on 11/10/1915.”
Letter addressed to Mrs ALH Turner of 192 Coatsworth Road, Gateshead, from War Office dated 8 July 1919 to issue the sum of Three Pounds, a balance of war gratuity, issued to her as sole legatee in accordance with deceased’s will.
Letters accompanying 1914-1915 Star (5 May 1920) and British War Medal (9 February 1921). The actual medals are on display in the Medal Room of the DLI Museum, Durham, along with a photograph.