Private 59011 Harry Tunley

Tunley Harry 96 322x600Tunley Harry 96 400x600

Died of Wounds on Wednesday, 13th June 1917, age 20.
Buried in Grave IV. D. 6. at Estaires Communal Cemetery Extension, Nord, France.

Machine Gun Corps (Infantry), 171st Company. 57th Division.
Formerly 29298 South Staffordshire Regiment.

Son of Edwin and Louisa Tunley, of 12, Hopkins St., Burnt Tree, Tipton, Staffs.
Born: Tividale, Enlisted: Dudley, Resident: Tipton.

First landed France & Flanders, post 31st December 1915.
Medal entitlement: British War Medal, Victory Medal.
Soldier's Papers at National Archives did not survive.

Commemorated on the Tipton Library Memorial.
Commemorated here because he appears on a Tipton memorial.

Link to Commonwealth War Graves Site: www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/268786/

Genealogical Data

1901 Census
Rounds Colliery, Dudley Road, Rowley Regis, Staffs.
Edwin Tunley (23, Engine Driver (Stationary), born Rowley Regis), his wife Louisa (23, born Rowley Regis), and their 2 children: Charles H. [Harry] (4, born Rowley Regis), George E. [Edwin] (1, born Rowley Regis).

1911 Census
Gate Street, Burnt Tree, Tipton, Staffs.
Edwin Tunley (33, Brickmaking Foreman, born Rowley), his wife Louisa (33, born Rowley), and their 5 children: Harry (14, Milk Seller, born Rowley), Edwin (11, born Tipton), Thomas (7, born Tipton), Martha (5, born Tipton), and Phoebe (1, born Tipton).

Personal Data

After Harry's death, his outstanding army pay and allowances amounted to £3/8/1d (3 pounds, 8 shillings and 1 penny); this was paid to his mother and sole legatee, Louisa, in December 1917. His War Gratuity was £3/0/0d (3 pounds exactly), this was also paid to his mother in October 1919. The value of the War Gratuity suggests that Harry had enlisted within the 12 months prior to his death.

A pension of 12/6d (12 shillings and 6 pence) per week was awarded "for life" to Harry's mother, Louisa.

Action resulting in his death

The majority of Territorial soldiers agreed to modify their contract to serve overseas, this left a gap for reserve Territorial units. On 31st August 1914, the War Office ordered Territorial units to form a ‘second-line’ unit. In West Lancashire, the existing Territorial units were amalgamated into the 55th (West Lancashire) Division, and the new units were subsequently amalgamated into the 57th (2nd West Lancashire) Division.

The 171st Company, Machine Gun Corps, was attached to the 171st Brigade of 57th Division, this Brigade consisted of 2/5th, 2/7th, 2/7th and 2/8th battalions of the King’s (Liverpool) Regiment – all second-line Territorials.

A letter in the Tipton Herald (see below) says that Harry was “called to the colours” in July 1916 and arrived in France after 7 months training. Initially Harry was in the South Staffs Regiment, we do not know which battalion, or when he transferred to the 171st Company, Machine Gun Corps. However, if Harry arrived in France after 7 months training, this ties in with the arrival of the 57th Division in France. There was no South Staffs battalion in the 57th Division.

After their training, the 57th Division arrived in France by 23rd February 1917, and formed up near Merris, in French Flanders. Although in France, this is only 13 miles south-west of Ypres. The Division them served in the Bois Grenier - Armentieres - Houplines sector, this is in France but very near the Belgian border.

According to a letter from his section commander, Harry was severely wounded on 12th June 1917, whilst at his post. The War Diary for the 171st Company, Machine Gun Corps for 12th June says "Armentieres: The enemy shelled back areas very heavily. Our working party was observed and drew shell fire. 2 Other Ranks were wounded – one of these died from wounds." The Other Rank who died was Harry Tunley as he was the only man from his company to die at this time.

He was taken to Estaires where numerous Field Ambulances were stationed. Harry arrived there late on the 12th June, and died only a short time later, on the 13th June. He is buried in Estaires Communal Cemetery.

Newspaper Cuttings

Tipton Herald June 30th 1917
Private Harry Tunley, of the Machine Gun Corps, eldest son of Mr and Mrs Edwin Tunley, Hopkins Street, Burnt Tree, Tipton, is another to be added to the long roll of honour from that locality.
He was called to the colours on July 3rd last year, and became attached to the South Staffordshire Regiment, but was transferred to the M.G.C., and after seven months training was drafted out to France. He was 20 years of age last April. Previous to enlisting he was employed by Messrs Thornton and Co., Tividale, as a stamper.
Private Tunley is another old scholar of Burnt Tree Council School to give his life for his King and Country, and was very popular and much respected in the district. He died on June 12th from wounds received the previous day.
The Lieutenant of Private Tunley's Section writes as follows:- "Dear Mrs Tunley, It is with the greatest regret that I have to inform you that your son, Harry, was very seriously wounded on the 12th of this month. He was given instant first-aid and was taken to the hospital without an instant's delay. The doctor in the trenches tells me that his feelings were certainly benumbed, and in spite of the severity of his wounds, he appeared to be in little pain, and went away very cheerfully. It came as a great shock to us all when we received notification from the hospital that he had passed away the next morning, being cheerful to the last, and with no apparent suffering. It will be some consolation to you to know that he was wounded at his post. He will be missed very much by me, his section officer, and by all his comrades. He was a conscientious worker, and always ready to do his bit."
The Chaplain writes:- "Dear Mrs Tunley, I cannot tell you how sorry I am that this letter does not bring you good news. Your son, Private H. Tunley, was brought to our advanced surgical centre on the 12th inst, late at night. Everything possible was done to save the poor lad's life, but without avail. His wounds were very severe indeed, and he passed away quietly very soon after admission. Fortunately he was unconscious and felt no pain. We managed to get his address and asked that we should write and give you his fondest love and tell you not to worry about him. I think he would still send you this message, for he no longer has any suffering, and is out of all need for worry, in the loving safe-keeping of our dear heavenly Father. I can only pray that you may find Him to be your dear Comforter in this big sorrow. We buried your dear lad's body this afternoon in the Military hospital where so many of our brave men have been laid to rest."

Tipton Herald August 11th 1917
Among Tipton soldiers, the casualties as reported during the past fortnight have been heavy. They include - W.T. Baldock (South Staffs), H. Tunley (M.G.C.), V.J. Finch (Buffs, East Kent), Lance Corporal H.E. Lester (South Staffs) and Pte. G.E. Gardner (South Staffs).