Private 11056 Thomas Gerrity

Gerrity Thomas 96 400x600
Photograph courtesy of Thomas's great-great grand-daughter, Hayley Keeling.
Gerrity Thomas 96 250x690
Memorial photograph courtesy Stephen Moore and Margaret Carter, 2014.

Died Gallipoli on Tuesday, 10th August 1915, age 35.
Commemorated on Panel 170 and 171 of Helles Memorial, Turkey.

7th Bn., North Staffordshire Regiment. 39th Brigade of 13th Division.

Husband of Mrs Bridget Gerrity, of 89 Mill Street, Etruria Road, Hanley, Stoke on Trent, Staffs.
Born: Tipton, Enlisted: Burslem, Stoke, Resident: Burslem, Stoke.

First landed Balkans, 2nd July 1915.
Medal entitlement: 1914-15 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal.
Soldier's Papers at National Archives survived and transcribed.

Not commemorated on any Tipton memorial.
Commemorated here because identified as Tipton on 'Soldiers Died in the Great War'.

Link to Commonwealth War Graves Site: www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/693429/

Genealogical Data

Birth of Thomas GARRATY registered March quarter 1880 in Dudley.

1881 Census
Court 1 House 1, Walker Street, Tipton, Staffs.
James GARRATTY (29, Puddler, born Tipton), his wife Catherine (27, born Darlaston), and their 4 children: Mary (6, Scholar, born Tipton), Sarah (5, Scholar, born Tipton), James (3, born Tipton), and Thomas (1, born Tipton).

1891 Census
13 Sidney Street, Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffs.
James GERRITY (38, Puddler, born Tipton), his wife Catherine (36, born Darlaston), and their 8 children: Mary (16, Potter's Transferer, born Tipton), Sarah (14, Potter's Transferer, born Tipton), James (12, born Tipton), Thomas (11, Scholar, born Tipton), John (8, Scholar, born Hanley), Edward (7, Scholar, born Hanley), Annie (5, born Hanley), Francis T. (1, born Hanley).

Marriage of Thomas GERRITY and Bridget Moran registered March quarter 1901 in Stoke.

1901 Census
25 Granville Street, Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffs.
Boarding with Arthur and Martha Smallman were:
Thomas GARRATY (21, Puddler, born Hanley), his wife Bessey (24, born Hanley). Even though this has the wrong place of birth for Thomas it seems correct, with Bessey as an alternative for Bridget. It is also correct in that their first child was not born until 1902.

1911 Census
23 Prince Street, Burslem, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffs.
Thomas GARRITY (31, Shingler, born Tipton), his wife Bridget (33, born Hanley), and their 5 surviving children of 6: Sarah (9, born Hanley), Francis John (8, born Hanley), Elsie (5, born Hanley), Edmund (3, born Hanley), and Annie (9 months, born Hanley).
Two further children were born, Thomas in 1912, and George in 1914. Sadly, Elsie died in September quarter 1913.

Personal Data

Thomas's surname is the source of confusion. Gerrity seems the most usual being used for his army records, marriage, 1891 census and his widow's signature in 1919. Spellings of Gerraty (birth), Garratty (1881), Garraty (1901), and Garrity (1911) are also used.

The Gerritys were a large family of 11 children - 8 boys and 3 girls. The father, James senior, was born in Tipton but his parents were from Cong, County Mayo, Ireland. The family had moved from Tipton to Hanley around 1882. The Staffordshire Sentinel of 1st April 1915 reports that all 8 brothers (James, Thomas, John, Edward, William, Joseph, George and Francis) had tried to enlist, and 7 had been accepted, the exception being the youngest, Francis, who was refused on the grounds of ill health.

The war was a cruel time for James senior as four of his sons were to lose their lives. Thomas died from fever in Gallipoli on 10th August 1915, James died of wounds on 3rd July 1916, and Edward and Joseph were both killed in action in Mesopotamia on 25th January 1917 and 25th February 1917 respectively. Then in July 1918, the Staffordshire Sentinel reported that 2nd Lieutenant William B. Gerrity was missing in action, and the fifth Gerrity casualty. In the one good piece of news that James senior was to receive during the war, the Sentinel of 9th August reported that William was alive and a Prisoner of War at Rastatt, Germany. He had been taken Prisoner of War at Montigny in France on 28th May 1918 - he was one of over 200 Hanley Prisoners of War repatriated in January 1919.

Thomas enlisted on 25th August 1914 at Burslem, stating he was born in Tipton, was living at 23 Prince Street, Burslem, and was an Iron Worker aged 29 years and 8 months (he was actually 34 years and 8 months, losing 5 years). He was 5 feet 5½ inches tall, weighed 139 pounds with a 35½-inch chest; he had a sallow complexion, hazel eyes and dark brown hair. He had scars and scalds on his upper chest and a scar on his right thumb. His religion was Roman Catholic.

After Thomas's death, his outstanding army pay and allowances amounted to £3/13/8d (3 pounds, 13 shillings and 8 pence); this was paid to his wife, Bridget, in November 1916. His War Gratuity was £3/0/0d (3 pounds exactly), this was also paid to Bridget in August 1919. The value of the War Gratuity suggests that Thomas had enlisted in the 12 months prior to his death.

Bridget Gerrity was granted a Widow's Pension of £1/9/0d (1 pound and 9 shillings) per week for herself and her 6 children, effective from 10th April 1916. Her address at that time was recorded as 89 Mill Street, Etruria Road, Hanley, Stoke on Trent.

Action resulting in his death

Thomas was posted to the 7th Battalion North Staffs on the 3rd September 1914, as part of the newly formed 13th (Western) Division. The North Staffs first assembled on Salisbury Plain, then to Basingstoke, and finally to Blackdown in Hampshire.

In mid-June 1915 the Division left for Alexandria which was presumably where Thomas landed on 2nd July 1915. They then moved to Mudros, and on to their landing at Cape Helles between the 6th and 16th July 1915. They returned to Mudros in late July before landing at Anzac Cove on 3rd August 1915 to prepare for the Battle of Sari Bair which took place between the 6th and 10th August 1915.

Sari Bair is a ridge of hills at the northern end of the Anzac beachhead, the capture of this ridge was to be the centre piece of the August Gallipoli Offensive. It would commence with the capture of the Turkish outposts covering the gullies running up to Sari Bair. Assaulting columns would then move up the gullies to capture the heights, including Chanuk Bair. All other elements of the August Offensive depended on the successful outcome of this action. The attack commenced late on 6th August, but it was apparent by 8.00am on the 7th August that the plan was too ambitious given the terrain, heat and the stubborn Turkish opposition.

The 39th Brigade, including the 7th North Staffs, was to have been in reserve, but as the plan was in danger of failing it was brought into action to attack Chanuk Bair. The attack on Chanuk Bair began at dawn on 8th August, and despite heavy losses initially took the Chanuk Bair objective. The ridge was to be lost on the 10th August to a strong Turkish counter-attack.

Sir Ian Hamilton wrote: "..... here is at least one instance where a battalion of the New Army fought right on, from midday to sunset, without any officers."

Thomas's Soldier's papers are confusing as he is reported both as both being "Missing", and "Died of Fever" on 10th August 1915. Given the confusion of the 10th August when Chanuk Bair ridge was lost, his being "Missing" due to illness is possible. His Pension Card confirms that he was "now reported died of fever". Regardless, Thomas has no known grave and is commemorated on the Helles Memorial.

Newspaper Cuttings

Staffordshire Sentinel 1st April 1915
Hanley Family’s Remarkable Record
Mr. Francis P. Gerrity, 32 Newcastle Road, Shelton, sends us an interesting photographic group of his father and seven brothers, who are all serving with the North Staffordshire Regiment. Mr. Francis P. Gerrity says: “I might mention that I am the eighth brother of this Irish Catholic family, and my services as a recruit have been refused, on the grounds of ill-health.” The photographic group is composed as follows:
- Lance-Corporal Joseph H. Gerrity; Private George H. Gerrity.
- Private Edward Gerrity; James Gerrity senior; Company Sergeant-Major William B. Gerrity.
- Private John Gerrity; Private James Gerrity; Private Thomas Gerrity.
NOTE: The photograph described was not printed in the Sentinel.

Staffordshire Sentinel 31 December 1915
Mrs. Gerrity, of 36 Newcastle Road, Shelton, has received information that her husband, Pte. T. Gerrity, 7th North Staffordshire Regiment, died while on service on August 10th. He was one of seven brothers serving with the colours.
EDITOR: The above address related to Thomas's father, not his wife - see below.

Staffordshire Sentinel 3 January 1916
Local Losses in Various Regiments.
Mrs. Gerrity, of 89 Etruria Road, Hanley, has received official news that her husband, Pte. T. Gerrity, 7th North Staffordshire Regt., died on August 10th. Last from fever contracted while on service. He leaves a widow and six children, and was 36 years of age. EDITOR: Actually, Thomas was 35 years of age.