September 24th, 2016

County council honours worker Thomas Turrall awarded VC during Battle of the Somme

County council honours worker Thomas Turrall awarded VC during Battle of the Somme County council honours worker Thomas Turrall awarded VC during Battle of the Somme
Thomas Turrall VC

A FORMER Worcestershire County Council employee is to be honoured this weekend for his role in the Battle of the Somme.

County Council employee Private Thomas George Turrall was awarded the Victoria Cross for his bravery on July 3, 1916.

Thomas Turrall was born in Birmingham in 1886 and worked as a painter and decorator in Yardley before the War. While working for Worcestershire County Council, he enlisted, joined the Worcestershire Regiment and was sent to France in the summer of 1915.

During the attack at La Boiselle, small bombing parties of 10th Battalion, Worcestershire Regiment, pushed forward when a hidden German machine gun opened fire. The only survivors were Turrall and Lieutenant Jennings, whose leg was shattered.

Turrall dragged Jennings to a shell hole, bandaging his leg with one of his puttees, using his entrenching tool as a splint. When daylight came the Germans made an unsuccessful counter-attack on the village; Jennings was unconscious, so Turrall played dead. The deception worked, and the Germans left, although only after prodding him with their bayonets as they passed.

That night, Turrall managed to make his way back to the British trenches carrying his lieutenant. Before he died, the officer was able to report on Turrall’s actions which merited the award of the Victoria Cross.

After the War he resumed life as a painter and decorator and died in 1964 in Birmingham. Attempts to locate any County Council employee or wages records for Thomas Turrall have failed, but it is likely that he worked as a labourer for the Highways and Bridges Department.

Adrian Gregson, Archival Policy and Collections Manager at Worcestershire Archive and Archaeology Service, said: “Thomas Turrall was a hero during the Battle of the Somme, and risked his own life in an attempt to save a comrade. He is rightly being honoured this weekend, and I hope as many people as possible are able to come along to celebrate his memory.”

There is a wreath laying ceremony at 11am on Sunday, July 3 in Gheluvelt Park, Worcester in his memory.

For further information on the county Project commemorating the First World War go to www.ww1worcestershire.co.uk

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