This article was prepared by one of our volunteers, Ann Eales. The Newhampton Road (Cranmer) Wesleyan Church Memorial and Roll of Honour, see picture, includes in alphabetical order 172 names of men and women who served during the First World War, including Wilfred Turner. You can read an interesting story about this Roll of Honour.
“Private 513671 14th Bn London Regt (London Scottish) Killed in Action 24/11/1917 Grave/Memorial Reference: III. D. 16. Cemetery: MOEUVRES COMMUNAL CEMETERY EXTENSION.”
The Commonwealth War Graves website has a plan of the cemetery, alongside this picture, and explains that Moeuvres is a village in France, 10 kms west of Cambrai. So, when Wilfred Turner died on 24 November 1917, it must have been at the Battle of Cambrai.
As an important rail centre, essential to bringing in supplies for the German forces, Cambrai became a target for an Allied attack. The Third Army attacked early on 20 November 1917, using a revolutionary method of co-ordinated massed tank-infantry-artillery-aircraft attack on the German trenches. The Germans apparently studied this method very closely and developed it into the German Army blitzkrieg methods of the second World War. At the end of the first day the attack appeared a spectacular success; church bells in England were rung in celebration. The Germans took back most of the ground they lost, however, with heavy reinforcements and an effective counter-attack. Wilfred Turner was just one of the Third Army’s losses (dead, wounded and missing) of approximately 44,000 men between 20 November and 8 December. German losses have been estimated at between 45,000 and 55,000.
Wilfred Turner was born at Wolverhampton on 15 June 1882. At the time of the 1891 Census, he was an 8 year old schoolboy. His father, Henry Robert Turner, was a Policeman. Both Wilfred’s father and mother, Martha, were born at Kingswinford. There were 3 more boys, Walter (12), Arthur (10) and Nathan Ernest (6), and a 5 month old daughter, Martha. She seems to have been known as Patty on the 1901 Census. By 1901 at the age of 18 Wilfred was working as a County Court Bailiff. He married Edith Florence Beck on 1 July 1909, and they were living at 14 Bingley Street at the time of the 1911 Census. There is no record of them having any children.
His Army records, which are among those that survived bomb destruction in the Second World War, show us that Wilfred was aged 33 years 5 months, weighed 129 lbs and was 5 foot 7 inches tall with a chest measurement of 35½ inches, when he joined his Regiment. Initially his army number was 7781, but this changed to 513671
Wilfred was ill with Scabies in 1916 for 63 days, from 9th October, until he was discharged as “cured” from the Holborn Military Hospital Western Road at Mitcham on 11th December 1916. Scabies is a contagious skin infection caused by a parasitic mite, developed in the field during the First World War because doctors had become unfamiliar with its early signs. Apparently many soldiers only reported sick after the condition was too painful to bear. By then the rest of the men alongside them in the trenches were infected, too.
Holborn Military Hospital was located in the Mitcham workhouse, used as a military hospital in the First World War, and afterwards to house refugees from the Russian revolution.
On 5 July 1918 a letter was sent to Mrs Turner to advise her that she would receive a widow’s pension of 13/9 a week with effect from 22 July 1918. She was referred to as being the wife of Wilfred Turner on the Ministry of Pensions Form 3.
Probate was granted to her on 15 May 1919, with Wilfred’s effects being valued at £249 13s 3d.
Among Wilfred’s army records this note can be seen.