At our recent Local History Fair, we received a deposit of material concerning the local firms Chubb & Sons Co. Ltd. and Bayliss, Jones & Bayliss. In amongst this material are some items concerning Percy Turner’s activities during the First World War.
Percy Turner was born on 17 December 1887. He became a safemaker and safe fitter for Chubb & Sons, travelling round the country installing safes. He started working for Chubb in London until the London safe works moved to Wednesfield Road in 1908 and he transferred to Wolverhampton with many other London employees. He married Ellen Emma Rogers (Nellie) in 1911. During the First World War he was redirected to Rubery Owen for Essential War Work.
Because of Percy’s contribution to the war effort, he was excused from military service. His certificates documenting this can be found in the collection. Initially, on 25 June 1915, he was issued with a certificate confirming his status as a “War Munition Volunteer”. This signified that he was engaged on essential war work. In December 1915, he “attested” under the “Derby Scheme”. Named after Edward Stanley, the 17th Earl of Derby, this Scheme was introduced in October 1915 and gave men between the ages of 18 and 40 the option of either enlisting voluntarily or attesting. To attest meant that they were deferring active service, but had an obligation to come if called up later on.
By 13 March 1917, however, he was issued with a Military Exemption Certificate and a War Badge, indicating that, although he was not in uniform he, too, was serving the war effort through his work on the home front.
After the War, he returned to his work with Chubb. While working there he got grit in his eyes and suffered from it all of his life, receiving some very early contact lenses just after the Second World War. He died in 1963.