On 7 December 1914, the Express & Star published a photograph of Samuel Tibbitts, a private in the 2nd Worcesters, who had been killed in France at the age of 21. The article includes various details about the man:
- He had attended the day school attached to the Darlington Street Wesleyan Church
- He was a member of the St Mark’s Company of the Boys’ Brigade and the St Mark’s Band of Hope
- He had served five years in the Army
Unfortunately, we only hold the school log books for the Darlington Street Wesleyan Day School, and no admission registers, so we are unable to confirm this further. His entry on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website confirms that he was a member of the 2nd Battalion of the Worcestershire Regiment, and was killed on 23rd October 1914. He was the son of Margaret Ann Tibbitts, of 77 Fisher Street in Wolverhampton, and he is commemorated at the Ypres (Menin Gate) memorial. His birth proved a little more elusive until spelling variations were tried, and he was found as “Samuel Tibbits”, registered in March 1893. He joined the Worcestershire Regiment in 1909.
On 15 September 1915, a further article appeared about the death of a Sergeant-Major Tibbitts. The end of the article confirmed that this was Sam’s brother. He had died in hospital at Malta from dysentery, contracted at the Dardanelles. Like his brother, he had been serving with the Worcestershire Regiment since 1907, and had been for two years sergeant instructor to the Officers’ Training Corps, as well as a gymnastic instructor at the King’s School in Wolverhampton. The same article appeared in the Midland Counties Express on 18 September 1915.
Finding this man, including finding his first name, has been pretty elusive, due to the various ways of spelling their surname. Finally I found a Company Sergeant-Major J. E. Tibbetts on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission site, who died on 27 August 1918 and is buried at the Pieta Military Cemetery in Malta. His service number, 10329, enabled me to confirm his name as Joseph E., of the 9th Battalion of the Worcestershire Regiment.
His birth was registered under the name “Joseph Edward Tibbits” in June 1886. He married a Beatrice Smith in Worcester in June 1914, and they had a baby daughter, Joyce, in September 1915. Like his brother, he had been a member of the 1st Wolverhampton (St. Mark’s) Company of the Boys’ Brigade. In fact, he had been awarded a certificate signed by Captain Theodore Addenbrooke for good conduct over the years 1899-1903 and had been to London with the Boys’ Brigade for King Edward’s Coronation.
This illustrates the difficulties that can be faced by researchers with spellings of names!