Yesterday, I discovered that a boy who lived in my house in the 1911 census died 13 August 1915. In 1911, 13 year old schoolboy Harry Turner was living with his parents and cousin. Four years later, he was a casualty of the World War One Gallipoli offensive. He was 17.
Harry was in the 2nd/1st East Lancashire Field Ambulance, Royal Army Medical Corps, regimental number 553, so was responsible for dressing wounds. Whilst on the way to Gallipoli for the second wave assault, his troopship, HMS Royal Edward was torpedoed and he drowned in the Aegean Sea.
I’d always understood boys under eighteen were not permitted to fight so Harry must have slipped through as he was a pre-war territorial soldier. Certainly in 1914, the legal limit was 19 for armed services overseas. A BBC webpage explains how so many underage boys joined the army – a large number were accepted i 1915.
When Harry died, his next of kin was his mother Emma. The 1911 census recorded Harry Turner’s parents had had another child who’d died before the census was taken so there is clearly no one left today to mourn this boy. He is commemorated on the Helles Commonwealth War Graves Commission Memorial in current day Turkey. His body was never found.
Three older boys from the other end of my street all survived to receive their victory medals…
More can be read about Harry at