A quick post to note that I achieved the 1million steps challenge with almost two weeks to spare – by the middle of today I’d recorded 1003142 steps. 🙂


William Turnbull

A family man also from the North East:

William Turnbull was the eldest son of Thomas Turnbull and Barbara Natrass who had married in Newcastle upon Tyne early in 1870. Thomas was a colliery labourer, and when the census was taken the following year the young couple were living at Cooks Buildings in Whickham with their infant daughter, Margaret.  William was born in Swalwell on 16 January 1873 and taken for baptism in Gateshead on 12 February.

The family had grown considerably by the time Wiliam first appeared on a census return; in 1881 they were living at Waterside, Whickham. William had a younger brother and sister, and his father was working as a waterman.   Over the next few years another three children were born into the family and when the next census was taken in 1891 both William and his younger brother George had left school and were working as labourers. No doubt their wages would help to support the household. The family was living at Cowens House, White Row, Winlaton.

Wlliam stayed in the family home until 1901, by then aged 28, and continued to work as a labourer. On 8 November the following year William married Martha Jane Potter at Gateshead Register Office, and was then working as a coke drawer. The young couple soon began a family of their own, and by 1911 had four daughters. They were living at Brewery Lane, Swalwell, and William was, by then, working as a shifter at the colliery. A son had been born in 1909, but sadly died in infancy; when their next child, born in 1912 was a son, he was named William like his father.

With the outbreak of war in 1914 William was quick to volunteer, he attested in Newcastle, probably on 9 November 1914, and was posted to the newly formed 24th Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers. This was one of the ‘Pals’ battalions, and was known as the 1st Tyneside Irish. The men who joined this battalion were issued with service numbers in order of when they joined, so William’s service number 24/3 tells us he was the third man to join the battalion.He was in 4th Company, 16th Platoon.  Before being sent to the field of battle the soldiers were given initial training in the UK. 25th Battalion was sent to Woolsington in March 1915. 

It is not known when William first became ill, but he died at home of pulmonary tuberculosis, at Brewer’s Bank on 18 May, aged 42.  He was buried in St Mary’s Churchyard, and honoured with a Commonwealth War Graves Commission headstone. Martha paid for the inscription ‘Abide with me’ on William’s headstone. His £3 War Gratuity payment was made to Martha, left to bring up five children alone.

Martha didn’t remarry, and in 1939 was living at 43 Whickham Bank, Whickham. She died in 1971 aged 90. 

Joseph Stoddart Tindall

Another young man from the North East being remembered this week.

Joseph Stoddart Tindall was the eldest child of Joseph Tindall  and Annie Jane Stoddart who had married in the autumn of 1890 in the Cockermouth area. Joseph was a coal miner and after they married the couple lived next to Joseph’s parents at Flimby Green. In the spring of 1891 Annie gave birth to their son, Joseph Stoddart Tindall.  Whilst the family was still living in Flimby Annie had two more children, both daughters, in 1893 and 1897. 

Sometime between 1897 and 1901 the family moved to Scotland, and when the census was taken in the spring of 1901 they were living at 2 Bishop Street, Hamilton, Lanarkshire. It isn’t clear how long they remained in Scotland, but they had moved back to the Cockermouth area by 1907, when Joseph’s father died. Annie remarried in 1909, by which time Joseph had left school and was earning his own living. The family moved to Swalwell, and by 1911 when the census return was made Joseph was lodging with the Nicholson family at 4 James Street, Blaydon on Tyne. Joseph was working in the coal industry as a shifter, meaning he would repair passageways in the mine to make sure they were kept free from obstructions. 

Towards the end of the following year Joseph married Isabella Macdonald in the Gateshead area, and Isabella gave birth to their daughter Annie Jane in the autumn of 1914.

When war broke out in August 1914 Joseph was quick to volunteer; he attested in Gateshead and was posted to 16th Battalion, Cheshire Regiment, with the service number 20828. This was a bantam battalion, formed in Birkenhead at the beginning of December 1814. Joseph didn’t get very far into his initial training, before he was taken to 1st Northern General Hospital in Newcastle where he died on 5 January 1915. 

He was buried in Whickham (St Mary) Churchyard) and honoured with a Commonwealth War Graves Commission headstone.

After the war Isabella, left to bring up her infant daughter alone, set out for a new life in Australia. She and Annie boarded ss Beltana on 6 June 1920 and set sail for Sydney.  Annie married in 1935, and died in 1942 in Newcastle, New South Wales.

Joseph’s mother eventually went back to Whitehaven, and in 1939 was living a6 26 Monkwray Cottages. She died in Whitehaven in 1952.

William Nevin

In Whickham (St Mary) Churchyard) is the Commonwealth War Grave of WR/265564 2nd Corporal William Nevin, serving with the Royal Engineers, who died on 29 August 1919.

William Nevin was the eldest son of Henry Octavius Nevin and Sarah Ann Goodfellow who had married towards the end of 1891. Henry was a coal miner, and Sarah came from the same mining village. The couple moved to Burnopfield where their first two children, both daughters, were born. William was born on 13 October 1895. He was taken for baptism to the parish church at Burnopfield on 7 November. 

William started school  on 21 November 1898, attending Eggleston Church of England School with his older sister Charlotte. At that time the family lived at 38 Front Street, Burnopfield. By the time the census was taken in the spring of 1901 the family had moved to Cinder Row and another daughter had been born into the family.  On 1 May 1902 William moved up to Tanfield (Burnopfield) Leazes Council School, where he stayed until 3 June 1904.

When the 1911 census return was made William was 15 and had left school. He was working as a pony driver underground at the pit.  On 25 January 1914, by then working as a gangman on the pit railway, he joined the National Union of Mineworkers.

On 22 September 1914 William went to York where he joined the Northumberland Fusiliers, and was posted to 17th Battalion with the service number 838. This was a ‘Pals’ service battalion known as the North Eastern Railway Pioneers.  After initial training in England, the battalion travelled to Southampton on 20 November 1915. The men embarked for Le Havre at 6.30pm, arriving at 3.00am on 21 November. After several days marching they arrived at Meaulte where they took over work in the trenches – draining, clearing falls, improving and making dugouts. The battalion stayed in Meaulte until the end of the year – Christmas passed by apparently  unnoticed, ‘work as usual till 27-12-15’ being the only comment in the war diary for that day. 

The battalion moved to Bouzincourt in the new year, and spent January there, making a new road, building and improving dugouts, resetting fire bays and building iron shelters. They continued this type of work near Bouzincourt and Albert. We know that William, promoted to Lance Corporal,  was sent back to England on 2 April 1916; perhaps he was one of two men wounded in D Company on 21 March. 

William remained in England and in February 1917 he was transferred to the Royal Engineers and given a new service number – 239740.  His service number was changed yet again, to WR/265564, WR being the prefix for Waterways and Railways troops. On 12 August 1917 William embarked to rejoin the British Expeditionary Force in France with Number 26 Light Railway Workshop, and was appointed 2nd Corporal on 29 August. For the next year William played his part in the operating of the light railway system. There would likely be about 200 men in the Company, mostly tradesmen like William – drivers, brakesmen, quards, wagon repairers, and few officers, so as a 2nd Corporal, William would have held a responsible position.

On 21 August 1918 William was sent back to the UK. It was determined that he was no longer physically fit for war service and he was discharged about three weeks later, on 10 September 1918.  He was awarded the Silver War Badge, indicating that he had served his country in the conflict, and was no longer able to do so. William returned home, but it is not known whether he was ever fit enough to go back to work.  A little under a year after he was discharged William died on 29 August 1919, and was buried in the churchyard at St Mary’s, Whickham, with a Commonwealth War Graves Commission headstone. He is also remembered on the Whickham parish WW1 plaque and on the memorial at Swalwell Junior School.

 For his service to his country William earned the 1914-1915 Star, British War Medal and the Victory Medal. He was 23 years old when he died.

William’s parents stayed in Whickham, living at 12 William Street just after the war, and by 1939 at 37 Lenin Drive, with their two youngest children, John and Hilda.  Henry and Sarah both died in 1950.

Horace James Thomson

In Whickham (Garden House) cemetery is the Commonwealth War Grave of Corporal Horace  James Thompson, serving with the Northumberland Fusiliers who died on 22 December 1916.

Horace James Thompson was the son of Thomas Thompson and Eliza J Liddell who had married in the summer of 1888 in the Gateshead area. Thomas was a steam engine fitter, and by 1891 the couple were living on Hexham Road, Whickham, with a two year old son and an infant daughter. Sadly both of the children died before the end of the year. Another daughter was born in 1902, also dying in infancy, and their first child to survive infancy was Ella, born in 1895.

Horace was born in Dunston in the spring of 1897 and when the census was taken in 1901the family was living at 30 Ravensworth Road, Dunston.  In 1911 when the next census return was made Horace was still at school, though at the age of 13, he would have left school soon after that. The family was living at 13 Newton Street, Dunston at that time.

After he left school Horace went to work in Newcastle with an accountancy firm, but when war broke out he was quick to volunteer his services. He enlisted in Newcastle into the Northumberland Fusiliers, and was posted to 19th (Service) Battalion. This was one of the new battalions, formed at Newcastle on 14 November 1914.  Commonwealth War Graves Commission records show Horace’s service number to be 19171, but contemporary military records display it as 19/71 (i.e. the 71st man to join 19th Battalion). Whilst we don’t know exactly when Horace enlisted, we can tell by his service number that he was the 71st man to enlist in the battalion. Silver war badge records show that the 95th man to join enlisted on 17 November, so it looks  very likely that Horace enlisted between 14th and 17th November 1914. 

The battalion began training in England, moving to Morpeth in January 1915 and then Cramlington. On 8 February 1915 was designated a pioneer battalion, being known as 2nd Tyneside Pioneers.  On 19 August the men travelled to Perham Down, Tidworth on Salisbury Plain, where they occupied No1 Hutments. On 16 November the first anniversary of the battalion’s formation was celebrated by giving all ranks the day as holiday.  The men celebrated Christmas and New Year with concerts on 24 and 29 December. 

Just before Christmas word was received to prepare the battalion for service in Egypt, and the men were issued with helmets.  On 7 January 1916 the men were told that they would be going to France, and were issued with soft trench caps and anti gas helmets. The following days were spent with testing equipment, trench warfare and final preparations before the men entrained on 28 January for Southampton en route to Le Havre. On arrival at Southampton the men embarked ‘ss City of Dunkirk’ disembarking at Le Havre at 6am on 29 January.

The men would soon get used to the routine of being in the front line, in reserve and resting. In 1916 the battalion was involved in the Battle of Bazentin Ridge, fighting for Arrow Head Copse & Maltz Horn Farm and fighting for Falfemont Farm.  Horace must have showed potential, and was soon promoted to corporal and in December, when the battalion was near Arras 1916 he was sent back to England to take up a commission for which he had been recommended.

On 28 December the Newcastle Journal reported that Horace had gone missing. He had set off from the family home in Newton Street on the previous Friday, 22 December, to go to the Hippodrome in Newcastle with a friend, but had never returned home. It wasn’t until Saturday 9 June, almost six months after his disappearance, that Horace’s body was found, in the river Tyne, near the Redheugh Bridge. An inquest was held, and an open verdict was returned.

For his service to his country Horace earned the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. He was 20 years old. His sister Ella stayed in Whickham, and in 1939 was living at 9 Park Terrace, earning her living as a dressmaker.

550304 and counting

Six weeks into the Million Steps challenge and I’m past the half a million steps mark. This is looking good for achieving the full million, despite having a couple of days later this month when I’m going to be stuck on a train for most of the day.

So far, so good.

Edward Moule and Andrew Usher

This week I’ve been looking at the stories of two more men from the north east. Both short on information, unfortunately, but didn’t want their stories to get lost.


Moule, C.E., Private, 1917

Edward was the son of David Moule and Eliza Young Palmer, who had married in West Ham, Essex in 1858. David was a carman and Eliza a tailoress.  Edward was the couple’s sixth child, born early in 1874. He was taken for baptism to St Mark’s church at Victoria Docks on 1 February 1874. 

By the time Edward was six the family was living at 22 Burnham St, West Ham. Edward’s mother, Eliza died in 1889, and his father married again in August the following year. When the census was taken in 1891 the family was living in Clarence Road, West Ham. There were only three children still at home and 17 year old Edward was working as a sugar baker’s labourer.  

Edward’s older sister Kate married in 1895, and  lived in Cowpen, Northumberland. At some point Edward moved north to live with his sister and her family. When the 1901 census return was made, he was still with them at 29 Wright Street, and was working as a ship plater’s helper. Edward remained in the shipbuilding trade and in the spring of 1910, when he was 36  married Sarah Tucker. The couple lived at 10 Marlow Street, Blyth when the census was taken the following year. Sadly Sarah died early in 1914 aged just 47. 

When war broke out later that year Edward, already 40 years old,  was quick to volunteer; though his service records haven’t survived, it appears from the amount of war gratuity payment that he earned that he enlisted in the autumn of 1914.  Edward was posted to 21st (Service) Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers which was formed on 26 September 1914. Commonwealth War Graves Commission records indicate that his service number was 21106; the new ‘Pals’ battalions used a different numbering system to existing battalions, whereby all numbers were prefixed by the number of the battalion, so it is likely that Edward’s number would have originally been written 21/106, indicating that he was the 106th man to join the battalion. 

It seems that when the battalion went to France in January 1916 Edward was retained at the Depot in the UK – there is no sign of a medal index card or medal award roll in his name, nor  was he issued with a Silver War Badge. 

In the summer of 1916 Edward married again in Gateshead. His new bride was Sarah Elizabeth Renwick,who had been widowed in 1912. but the couple were not destined to have a long marriage and less than eighteen months after they married Edward died on 22 December 1917. The entry for Edward in the register of Soldiers’ Effects clearly shows his service number as 21/108 and gives his place of death as at home, in Dunston He was entitled to £14 War Gratuity payment, which was paid to Sarah.

Edward’s death was attributable to his service during the war. He was buried in Whickham (Garden House) cemetery and he was duly given a Commonwealth Wargraves Commission headstone on which Sarah paid for the inscription ‘Lest we forget’.  

Sarah remained in Whickham, and in 1939 was living with one of her sons at Glebe Cottage on Front Street. 


Usher, A. 1920

Andrew Usher was the youngest child of John Usher and Elizabeth Swaddle who had married in 1890 in Gateshead. John was a coal miner, and when the census was taken in 1891 he and Elizabeth were living in Buck Lane, Gateshead. Their first child, a daughter was born in Low Fell, and the family moved to Dunston, where two more daughters and a son were born before Andrew arrived early in 1900. 

By the time the census was taken again in 1901 two of the children had died in infancy. The family was living in Grey Street, and John was still working underground as a hewer in the coal mine. In 1911 John and the four surviving children were living at 26 Tyndal Gardens, Whickham. John described himself as married, but it is unclear where Elizabeth was at that time.  Andrew, by then eleven year old, was still at school.

No military records have survived for Andrew, and it is difficult to tell when or where he enlisted. His older brother George enlisted in May 1916 when he was 18, so it is unlikely that Andrew attested before this. If Andrew had been conscripted, it would have been at least spring 1918 that he was called up. The fact that he was posted to the Leicestershire Regiment rather than a local regiment might suggest that this was likely.  The Commonwealth War Graves Commission records show that Andrew served in 5th Provisional Company, with service number 62731. We have found no medal entitlement for a soldier with that service number, which would suggest that Andrew didn’t serve abroad. 

Andrew died on 27 November 1920 in his home town, and was buried in Whickham (Garden House) cemetery. He was 20 years old. It was determined that the cause of his death was attributable to the war, and he was duly accorded a Commonwealth War Graves Commission headstone. Andrew’s father died in 1923.




Driver Norman Wilbert

Wilbert, N., Driver, 1920

Norman Wilbert was the son of Richard Wilbert and Sarah Jane Parker who had married in the autumn of 1888 in Auckland. In 1891 when the census return was submitted Richard and Sarah were living at Surtees Street, Bishop Auckland. Richard was a flour miller and the couple had an infant son. It looks likely that by the end of the year the family was living in Gateshead when Sarah gave birth to a daughter.

Norman was born at Dunstan in the spring of 1899, and the family was still living in Dunstan at 15 Ellison Road two years later when the census was taken.  Sadly, Norman’s father died in the spring of 1910, leaving Sarah with twenty year old George providing for the family as a packer at the flour mill. When the census was taken the following year Norman was still at school, but at the age of 12, it wouldn’t be long before he would leave and begin to contribute to the family income.

Two years later, when Norman was just 14, Sarah died. What happened to Norman after that is unknown, but both his brother George, and sister Harriet married the same summer. Perhaps he was cared for by one of them.

It is difficult to know when and where Norman enlisted, but he shouldn’t have gone to the field of battle until he was 19, so it is likely that he joined his unit in the spring of 1918. He was posted to the Royal Field Artillery as a driver, though it is unknown which brigade he joined, and issued with service number 261931. As a driver he would have been trained in the management, use and care of horses. Six horses would be used to pull a gun or wagon, and the drivers would look after their horses as well as drive them. This was considered to be one of the most important jobs in the battery.

Norman survived the war, though it is unknown whether he was injured. He earned the British War Medal, and Victory Medal for his service to his country. After he left the army he returned home, living on Market Lane, Dunston. He married Beatrice Lily Foreman in the summer of 1920, but died just a matter of weeks later on 2 September, and was buried in Whickham (Garden House) cemetery. Norman was 21 years old. His death was attributed to the war, and he was duly accorded a Commonwealth War Graves Commission headstone on which  Beatrice paid for the inscription ‘Until the day dawns’. In the spring of 1921 Beatrice gave birth to Norman’s daughter, Margaret Nora.

Norman’s older brother George also served in the army, earning the 1914-1915 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal for his service in the Royal Army Medical Corps.


Able Seaman Thomas Morley

Morley, T. 1919

Thomas Morley was the son of William Naizby Morley, a joiner,  and Frances Rumney who had married on 7 October 1893 at Holy Trinity Church, Pelton.  Thomas was born on 3 April 1896, in Stanley, County Durham, and whilst the family was still living in Stanley, Frances gave birth to a daughter early in 1900. Sadly, before the end of the year, Thomas’ father died leaving Frances with two children under school age to bring up alone.

When the census return was made in 1901 Frances and her children were living with her father at 64 Clavering Avenue, Dunston. The menfolk of the family all worked in the mining industry; perhaps this was influential in determining Thomas’ career options.  The following year Frances married Edward Stoves, a miner, and the family continued to live in Dunston. When the next census was taken she had two more daughters and fourteen year old Thomas had left school to work underground at the colliery.

War broke out in August 1914 and Thomas was quick to volunteer. He enlisted on 6 November 1914 and was assigned to  C Company, Hawke Battalion. This was one of eight naval battalions in the 63rd Division, originally made up of reservists and volunteers who were not needed for service at sea. His service number, sometimes written as TZ/941 indicates he was part of the Tyne Division.

It appears that Thomas went with the Division to Gallipoli in the spring of 1915, as he was admitted to the 17th General Hospital in Alexandria on 3 May 1915 after suffering a gunshot wound to the head. He remained in hospital until 23 June and then joined 8th Entrenching Battalion. These battalions were formed to work on rear defence works, and it is likely that Thomas was sent there to keep him reasonably close to the front until he could go back to the battalion.  After the evacuation of Gallipoli the division moved to France in May 1916, by which time there were very few men serving who had served at sea

It was on 13 September 1916 that Thomas went back to Hawke Battalion, which took part in the Battle of the Ancre in November . On 26 November 1916 Thomas was gassed and didn’t return to his battalion until 12 February 1917. Just a week later Thomas became ill, and was off strength from 19 February until 21 March. After fighting in the Arras Offensive in April Thomas was again gassed on 6 May. This time he was invalided back to the UK on 18 May.

After treatment in the UK, when he was considered fit for service again, Thomas was posted to 253rd Divisional Employment Company on 11 April 1918, and served in that unit until the end of the war.  He contracted influenza and was one again invalided back to the UK on 12 December 1918 prior to being demobilised on 11 January and discharged on 8 February 1919. In the UK Thomas was based on hms Victory, a shore based establishment in Portsmouth.

When he was demobilised Thomas went back to Dunston and lived with his mother at 82 Donnison Street. It seems that his health remained poor, and he died on 28 December 1919. For his service to his country Thomas earned the 1914-1915 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.  Thomas was buried in  Whickham (Garden House) cemetery in a CWGC grave.

Frances died in 1934 in the Gateshead area.



Abrahan Alfred Worman

Worman AA

This is another of the graves I visited on my recent trip to the Somme area.

Abraham is a bit of a mystery. Military records show that he enlisted in Whitehall, Middlesex, probably around the spring of 1916. He served in the 2/1 London Regiment and 2/4 London Regiment as well as 7 East Kent Regiment.  His original service number was 8892, and it is likely that he was given his second number, 17470 when he transferred to the 7th Battalion East Kent Regiment.  He earned the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.

Abraham’s War Gratuity payment and accrued pay were sent to his father, Morris. From this we can deduce that he was a single man. Looking at the census records, the most likely record would be for the family living at Butler Street, Whitechapel in 1911. Head of household, Morris was Russian by birth, and a fruit salesman by occupation. His wife Fanny was also of Russian origin. It looks likely that Abraham was born late in 1896 and that Fanny’s maiden name was Glasner.  If this is the correct family, Abraham was one of 10 cbhildren born into that marriage by 1911.

The British Jewry Roll of Honour gives Abraham’s address as 5 Doveton Street, E1.

What we do know is that Abraham was  one of 20 men from 7th Batttalion killed in action on 7 August 1918, the day before the Battle of Amiens was launched.  He was buried in Beacon Cemetery along with five comrades from his battalion killed that day.