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 29 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.

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.

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.

In 1919, his widow, Mrs Bridget Gerrity, was living at 29 Mill Street, Etruria Road, Hanley, Stoke on Trent.

Grave photograph courtesy Steve and Margaret Moore, 2014.

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 here, 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 the Chanuk Bair ridge was lost, his being "Missing" due to illness is possible. Regardless, he has no known grave and is commemorated on the Helles Memorial.

Newspaper Cuttings