Every Name A Story Content

Titheridge, A.C., Pte., 1914
In Stanley Cemetery, Falkland Islands is the Commonwealth War Grave of PO/11220 Private A.C. Titheridge, serving with the Royal Marine Light Infantry who died 08/12/1914.

Janet Rice has provided this story:
By janwhin

The final name on the Eglingham War Memorial for the fallen of World War I is that of Arthur Titheridge. But who was he? It is not a local name and there is no record of him, or his family, being in the district at the time of the last census before the outbreak of war, taken in 1911. The only clue to his identity can be found in the Alnwick Gazette Almanack 1918 containing the names of those local men killed in the War. Under the list of names from Eglingham is “Arthur Tetheridge, Harehope”

The Eglingham War Memorial does carry a number of names of men who came into the district after 1911 to work on the estates surrounding the village. So, the answer to Mr Titheridge of Harehope could be that he came to work on the Harehope Estate.

Further investigation revealed a desperately sad story and a realization that some families seem to shoulder more than their fair burden of misfortune and loss.

Arthur Charles Titheridge was born on 2 June 1883 in West Meon, Hampshire, the son of Charles, an agricultural labourer and Ann, his wife. Arthur, too, became a farm labourer before enlisting in January 1901 as a private in the Royal Marines Light Infantry. He served on a number of ships during the 12 years he was in the service. He left the service in January 1913 and was immediately enrolled in the Royal Fleet Reserve.

Arthur had married an East Meon girl, Bertha Merritt, in Portland, Dorset, on 13 August 1905, and by the time of the 1911 census they had had 4 children, one of whom had died. Bertha and the children lived at Gosport in Hampshire whilst Arthur was away at sea. In 1911 another child was born, and died, but in 1912 a son was born who survived.

On leaving the Royal Marines, Arthur and Bertha must have decided to look widely for employment as their next appearance in the records is in Whitburn, near South Shields, in County Durham. Another child, John, is born there and dies in 1913. Arthur’s occupation is a domestic chauffeur.

The family moved on again and in 1914 Arthur’s name appeared in the local newspapers following the death of a young boy in Whickham, Co. Durham …..

Newcastle Journal, 01/05/1914:
“Shortly after one o’clock, yesterday afternoon, a fatal motor accident occurred at Whickham.
A boy named Arthurs, aged about eight years, son of Daniel Arthurs, a miner, living at Rose Villa Lane, Whickham, was playing on the highway opposite the Whickham Council offices, when he was knocked down by a motor car belonging to Mr. Haggie of the Chase, Whickham. The boy only lived a few minutes after the accident.”

The Newcastle Journal 02/05/1914 carried a report of the inquest into the death of the boy:
“……..Arthur Charles Titheridge, a chauffeur in the employ of Mr. Peter Norman Haggie, The Chase, Whickham stated that on Thursday he was driving home from Newcastle. When he heard children playing on the village green he slowed down to about five miles an hour. When about ten yards from the village green he saw a boy dash out on to the road after a ball. The boy was running fast, and seemed to have his attention concentrated on the ball. As witness was blowing the exhaust whistle he thought the boy would notice it, but he did not, and witness shouted. Witness saw that an accident was inevitable and pulled the car on to the pavement. The boy was caught by the left mudguard. Witness picked the boy up and took him to Dr. Smith’s surgery, where he died about five minutes later…….”

The verdict returned following this inquest was accidental death but it clearly had an effect on Arthur as the family moved on again and the last we know of them in the North East is at Harehope. It can only be assumed that Arthur found a job as a chauffeur at Harehope Hall.

The outbreak of war in August must have come as an unwelcome surprise to the family. They can have only been in the district a couple of months when Arthur was called up as part of the Royal Fleet Reserve. By 15 July 1914 he was on board HMS Venus. Bertha, left behind in Northumberland, had four young children ranging in age from 7 to 2 years old. She was also pregnant.

On 3 October 1914 Arthur was on board HMS Kent which left Portsmouth as part of a battle fleet under the command of Vice Admiral Sturdee, bound for the South Atlantic. On 1 November, the Royal Navy had suffered its first defeat in over one hundred years in the Battle of Coronel off the coast of Chile. They had been defeated by Admiral Graf Von Spee who had assembled a formidable array of modern warships including the Scharnhorst and the Gneisenau. Sturdee’s task was to hunt down and defeat the victorious German squadron. Sturdee had command of a large British battle group which included two battle cruisers, Invincible and Inflexible, and three armoured cruisers, one of which was H.M.S. Kent.

On 8 December the British engaged with the German squadron off the Falkland Islands. All but two small German ships were sunk and Graf Von Spee and two of his sons died. The British suffered only light casualties. HMS Kent was hit 38 times. Sadly five ratings died and a further three died of wounds. As a light infantry man, Arthur was attached, as a gunlayer, to one of HMS Kent’s 6 inch guns. A German shell had struck the side of the ship near his gun casement and exploded on contact, holing the side and allowing splinters and flames to penetrate. The explosion killed or wounded all of that gun’s crew who were in the process of reloading. Arthur survived but was badly wounded. All that the surgeon could do was to give morphine and dress the extensive burns of all the survivors, who were in a state of extreme shock. Arthur died of shock the same night. He was buried in Port Stanley cemetery in the Falkland Islands.

Back in Eglingham, on the 15 December, Arthur and Bertha’s last child was born. The child’s birth certificate, dated 8 February 1915, describes Arthur as a private in the Royal Marines Light Infantry and a domestic chauffeur, deceased. Presumably in memory of his father and the Battle of the Falkland Islands, the child was named Arthur Sturdee. Bertha, a widow, was left isolated in Eglingham with five children under the age of 7, one of whom was a baby, born perhaps prematurely due to the shocking news of Arthur’s death.

Arthur Sturdee’s birth was registered on the 8 February 1915 in the Alnwick Registration District. The child’s surname was no longer Titheridge but Charlesworth and the informant, Bertha, was resident back in Hampshire. The information was given by a declaration dated 5 February. There is a vague memory within the wider Titheridge family that Arthur was adopted and the birth registration would seem to bear this out. It appears that Bertha left the Eglingham district soon after Arthur’s birth, taking her older children with her and leaving Arthur behind. Bertha remarried back in Hampshire in 1917 but died in 1918, aged 35.

What of the surviving children? Arthur’s war medals were issued to the “legal representative or guardian of the daughter”. She married in 1933 and died in 1989 in Hampshire. The oldest son reappears in 1922 as an apprentice on board a passenger ship bound for New York from Dundee. The crew had been taken on at Middlesbrough, so had the oldest son been left behind in the North East too? He was still on the Atlantic route as an apprentice in 1924 and 1925, sailing between Liverpool and Boston. The last trace of him, in 1927, was still on the same route but as an able seaman.

The remaining two sons, Albert and Kenneth, who came back to Hampshire with their mother, were placed in an orphanage. Their fates reveal another interesting story from World War I. A scheme had been proposed by the sheep farmers of New Zealand to take the sons of those British seamen killed or wounded in the conflict and to train them so that they could be placed on New Zealand farms. The proposal had come about because of the gratitude felt by the New Zealanders towards the Royal Navy and the Mercantile Marine for the maintenance of the shipping routes for their wool trade during the War. The training establishment in New Zealand was called Flock House and between 1924 and 1937 over 600 children passed through the school. The two Titheridge boys relocated to New Zealand under this scheme. Albert was the first of the two boys to leave, one of 24 boys sailing from Southampton to Wellington in 1926 when he was 16. Kenneth left in 1928, aged 14, one of 29 boys. The ship’s passenger list states that Kenneth was of the Shedfield Convalescent Home, Botley, Hampshire. Albert died in 1988 and Kenneth in 2001, both in New Zealand.

Arthur Sturdee “Charlesworth” remained in the North East with his adoptive parents but sadly died in 1919, just short of his fifth birthday. He died from TB in the County Lunatic Asylum, Sedgefield, Co. Durham. His death certificate states that he was “Arthur Sturdee Titheridge, otherwise Charlesworth”, formerly of Uppertown, Wolsingham, Weardale, the son of Arthur Charles Titheridge, a private RMLI and chauffeur deceased. It would appear that the adoptive parents might have been a John Henry and Alice Agnes Charlesworth, living in Wolsingham at the 1911 census. Why did he die in a lunatic asylum? There is no obvious record to suggest that this particular asylum took children, whether physically or mentally ill.

One story of the long reach of war on a normal family, how many more are there to tell?

He is remembered in Eglingham on E18.01 and on our List of Ships’ crews
Janet Rice states that he is also remembered at East Meon in Hampshire and on the memorial tablet in Canterbury Cathedral to the fallen of HMS Kent.

Jim Titheridge has contacted us to say:
"In 2014 I was invited to attend the service of Remembrance for the 100th anniversary of the death of the 8 members of HMS Kent who lost their lives in the South Atlantic on the 8th December 1914 as I live locally and have a family connection, although this is very small, we share the same surname but are only very distant relatives. I was honoured to attend the service and even had a reading to perform as well as laying a wreath in Arthur Charles’s name."
He has kindly provided us with a copy of the programme for the commemoration which is attached below.

The Commemoration Programme 2014
The CWGC entry for Private Titheridge

If you know more about this person, please send the details to janet@newmp.org.uk