b. 22/05/1893 Reading, Berkshire. d. 01/10/1915 Chocques, France.
Alexander Buller Turner (1893-1915) was born at “Inversnaid”, Southcote Road, Reading, Berkshire on 22nd May 1893. His father, Major Charles Turner, was commissioned as a Lieutenant in 1st Battlaion, Princess Charlotte of Wales’s (Royal Berkshire Regiment) from the Royal Military College Sandhurst on 22nd October 1881. He served in the Anglo-Egyptian War of 1882, and later served as RTO at Aldershot Garrison until placed on Retired Pay and transferred to the Reserve of Officers in January 1902. He was later a County Councillor in Berkshire, a JP and a Deputy Lieutenant. Charles married Ella Thornton in 1886 in St Helens, Isle of Wight. She was born in Russia where her father was a merchant. Sadly, she died the following year from complications after the birth of their first child, Charles.
Alexander’s mother was Jane Elizabeth Buller, whom Charles married on 28th June 1892 in Plympton, Devon. She was a distant relative of General Sir Redvers Buller, who was awarded the VC for his actions at Inhlobana in the Zulu War of 1879. Alexander had five siblings: Charles (his half-brother), Jane Emily Turner known as “Milly”, Cecil Buller Turner, Victor Buller Turner, and Mark Buller Turner. His brother Victor Buller Turner would be awarded the VC himself in the Second World War during the Second Battle of El Alamein in 1942.
Alexander was educated at Parkside Preparatory School, East Horsley and Wellington College, Somerset until December 1908, where he was a member of the Officer Training Corps. He was commissioned into 3rd (Reserve) Battalion, Royal Berkshire Regiment on 15th August 1914 and went to France on 9th June 1915, where he joined the 1st Battalion on 22nd June. He was slightly wounded by a sniper on 12th August and returned to duty on 5th September.
On 28th September 1915 at Fosse 8, near Vermelles, France, when the regimental bombers could make no headway, Second Lieutenant Turner volunteered to lead a new bombing attack. He made his way down the communication trench practically alone, throwing bombs incessantly with such dash and determination that he drove off the Germans about 150 yards without a check. His action enabled the reserves to advance with very little loss and subsequently covered the flank of his regiment in its retirement, thus probably averting the loss of some hundreds of men.
Second Lieutenant Turner was wounded fatally during the action and died at No 1 Casualty Clearing Station at Chocques on 1st October 1915. He was buried in Chocques Military Cemetery and is also remembered on the Thatcham War Memorial in Berkshire.
As Alexander never married, his VC was posted to his father, but was presented to him formally by King George V at Buckingham Palace on 16th November 1916. In addition to his VC, he was awarded the 1914-15 Star, British War Medal 1914-20 and Victory Medal 1914-19. After his brother Victor’s (fellow VC) death on 7th August 1972, the surviving siblings, Jane and Cecil, travelled to Newbury where they presented Alexander’s VC to the Duke of Edinburgh’s Royal Regiment (Berkshire and Wiltshire) and went on to Winchester, where they gave Victor’s VC to the Royal Green Jackets Museum. Alexander’s VC is now held by The Rifles (Berkshire & Wiltshire) Museum, Salisbury, Wiltshire.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: GLOUCS/WILTS/BERKS REGT MUSEUM, SALISBURY, WILTSHIRE.
BURIAL PLACE: CHOCQUES MILITARY CEMETERY, CHOCQUES, FRANCE.
Alexander Buller Turner's medals at the Royal Berks/Gloucs/Wilts Regimental Museum, Salisbury
(Picture - Thomas Stewart).
Cemetery Plan courtesy of Kevin Brazier
PLOT I, ROW B, GRAVE 2
Thatcham War Memorial
St Mary's Church, Thatcham
Thatcham VC Stones.
War Illustrated, 4th December 1915