b. 05/07/1886 Birmingham. d. 21/02/1964 Birmingham
Thomas George Turrall (1885-1964) was born at Speedwell Road, Hay Mills, Yardley, Birmingham on 5th July 1886. His father, William, held a variety of jobs such as a labourer in a brickworks. His mother was Ellen nee Adams, and they married in 1882. His mother died when he was ten, and his father re-married in 1896 to Louisa Adkins nee Slaytor. Louisa had three children from her first marriage. Thomas had six siblings from his father’s two marriages.
Thomas was educated at Dixon Road School, Small Heath, Birmingham, before gaining employment as a decorator. He was a member of Smethwick Crescent Wheelers cycling club, as was Harold Colley, who was later a 1918 VC recipient. Thomas married Mary Lilian nee Maxwell in 1913 in Aston. They had a daughter, Lilian born in 1914. She died unmarried in 1942.
Thomas enlisted on 29th December 1914 and went to France on 2nd September 1915. On 3rd July 1916 at La Boiselle, France, during a bombing attack by a small party against the enemy, the officer in charge was badly wounded and the party was compelled eventually to retire. Private Turrall remained with the wounded officer for three hours under continuous and heavy fire from machine-guns and bombs. Notwithstanding that both he and the officer were at one time completely cut off from the British troops, he held his ground with determination and finally carried the officer to the British lines after a counter-attack had made this possible.
After being gazetted for the VC on 9th September 1916, he was presented with his medal by King George V at Buckingham Palace on 30th December 1916. He was given a hero’s welcome by Small Heath on his return and was presented with £250 and a gold watch. The Lord Mayor of Birmingham, the future Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain, also offered his congratulations.
Thomas transferred to the Reserve on 9th April 1919 and was employed as a barman and later was a partner in a painting and decorating business. On 17th July 1920, he married Daisy May Dennis nee Phillips. Both of them had lost their first spouses during the previous couple of years. They didn’t have any children.
Thomas died at Selly Oak Hospital , Birmingham on 21st February 1964 and was buried in Robin Hood Cemetery, Solihull. In addition to his VC, he was awarded the 1914-15 Star, British War Medal 1914-20, Victory Medal 1914-19, George VI Coronation Medal 1937 and Elizabeth II Coronation Medal 1953. The medals are held by the Worcestershire Regimental Museum, Worcester.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: WORCESTERSHIRE REGIMENT MUSEUM, WORCESTER.
BURIAL PLACE: ROBIN HOOD CEMETERY, SOLIHULL, WARWICKSHIRE. A4 NORTH, G 193.
Thomas Turrall's medals including his VC on display at the Worcestershire Regimental Museum, Worcester
Hall of Memory, Birmingham (Feb 2016)
War Illustrated, 23rd September 1916