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Remembered Today:

William Johnson Tunley 3rd BTN Royal West Kents G/4220


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I am not sure if it is fortunate or unfortunate that I started this family history thing, everything I turn up leads me to more questions than answers, but one thing I do know is that it just keeps making me want to know more.

My Grandfather was in the above Regiment. On the face of it , it would seem like he had a bit of a chequered career in the army. I have found his record on Ancestry and there are a few areas I am struggling with. I have attached a couple of screen shots from his record and it states details of being shot in Oct 1916 and taken to Etaples then to the UK. What I can't see from the records is when 3rd btn went to France/ Belgium or where abouts they would have been. There are also details about him deserting twice but I can't really work those out either. There is a letter to his wife looking for him when he was at home after being wounded I think. If any of you have any more info on the battalion or the courts martials I would love to know more. Many thanks


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The 3rd Bn did not go overseas, typically pre-war most County Regiments had two Regular active service Battalions and a third 'Depot' Battalion. After he was wounded he was taken off the active duty list and posted to a Reserve (i.e. 3rd) Bn until either fit to return to duty or discharged/posted elsewhere.

The LLT will tell you where the Depot Battalion was stationed during the war.

It appears he did not recover sufficiently to return to front line duty as he is listed in the Silver War Badge Rolls as discharged to the P Class Reserve (http://www.1914-1918.net/reserve.htm) on 24th April 1917.

Unfortunately the record does not show which Battalion he served with in France he was simply posted to the BEF on the 30th August 1916 four days after he came out of the Detention Barracks in Chelmsford. He was in France from that date until evacuated to the UK as above after being wounded on the 9th October 1916. Looking at the casualties for that day my money would be on the 10th Bn who lost 14 men killed on 9th October.

According to Westlake's Tracing British Battalions on the Somme the 10th Battalion provided working parties in the from line during the attack on Gird Trench (7/10) and moved to Mametz Wood (10/10 i.e. the day after he was wounded). The same source shows this Battalion moved to the Somme at the end of August and after training moved into support positions in the first week of September and remained on the Somme until late October.


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Ken you are a goldmine. Thankyou. Its interesting them not knowing where he was and writing to his wife to ask if she had seen him.

You'll note the date last seen was 14 October 1915 and the form was posted (or at least is stamped) 12th October 1915. She (? thinks she might have had some help) notes he came home on the 14th June 1915, 'blind in one eye and awaiting discharge' and he had been working in munitions (which was paid much more than a soldier). The 14th June was the day he was taken 'off strength' and posted as a deserter (having previously been fined in February for unauthorised absence).

He 'rejoined' and was taken back on strength on the 21 October (so it seems he was taken into custody following return of the letter which suggests he was not the sharpest knife in the box, or perhaps he simply had no criminal intent). He was awaiting trial at the Depot until 12/1/2/1915 when he was court-martialled for desertion on active service and associated offences of losing equipment and sentenced to 6 months detention, fined 30 shillings and all former service (1 year and 46 days) forfeit. 30 Days of this sentence was remitted for good conduct and he was released on the 13th May 1916 and returned to the 3rd RWK (Depot) the following day. It seems after his release he again went absent from the 19th to the 25th May and was court-martialled again and sentenced to a further six months detention on the 7th June 1916.

I don't know if there was some sort of amnesty following the losses on the Somme but it seems he only served a couple of months of this sentence, as noted above he was released on the 26th August and posted tot the BEF on the 30 August 1916. Perhaps the saddest and greatest irony is that after just a few weeks or a total of 49 days on active service he was wounded in the jaw and left eye as the previous year he claimed he had 'one blind eye and inflammation in the other'.

He was taken off the strength while in hospital and posted back to the Depot (3rd Bn) on 11.12.1916. amazingly he again went absent from the 2nd to the 10th March 1917, but it seems by then both he and the Army had had enough and on the 7th April there is an entry showing him posted to the '(W) Middx'. I suspect this was an administrative posting as he was posted to the 'P' Reserve as above on 24th April. The stamp shows this was from the 29th (I.W.) Bn Middlesex Regiment.

However having had a closer look at the record there is another document dated 16/2/1917 (No 703 on Ancestry) that references the 1st Bn RWK (so unfortunately like the King George and Cue Card I'd have lost my money on the 10th at post 2!). He would initially have gone to the IBD in France and been posted to a Battalion from there.

According to Westlake the 1st Bn lost 201 casualties on the 4th September so it's possible he was posted as a replacement sometime in September; Westlake has them posted to the Bethune sector from the 1st October. Although this was a quiet sector there was still the threat of artillery and sniper fire and it looks like as a 'new guy' he hadn't learned to keep his head down.

He eventually received a 'final'discharge' from the Reserve on the 22nd September 1919.

It's possible (although speculative) that eventually on the 'P' Reserve he finally went back to work in munitions (or as the note says 'doing a bit') at Woolwich Arsenal.


The war diary for the 1st Bn has not been digitised http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/SearchUI/Details?uri=C4554705

(though the 10th has! http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/SearchUI/Details?uri=C4555789)

Neither is likely to mention him by name but might show wounded O.Rs. on 9th October.

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I remember him as not being very dynamic. But drank a lot. He was killed when hit by a car in London in around 1970 i think and had had a few then

I remember him as not being very dynamic. But drank a lot. He was killed when hit by a car in London in the late 60s i think and had had a few then.

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