Stonnall man to tell the story of his grandfather’s World War One experiences on battlefields tour
A Stonnall man will tell his grandfather’s story in the Somme during World War I as part of a new Battlefields tour.
Alfred William Turner enlisted for combat at the age of just 14, although little was known of his military life.
But painstaking research has now lifted the lid on the story – and his grandson Dave Turner will be telling his story on trips led by Staffordshire-based Century Tours this summer.
The 55-year-old only learned the details of Alfred’s past after he and his son Callum went with company owners Andy Fittes and Katie Love to see the First World War battlefields in France last year.
“The only thing we knew was that he had an unhappy childhood and committed when he was a minor. My grandfather never spoke about his time in the military and he died in 1977 at the age of 77 when I was ten.
“Before Covid struck I had decided to join one of Century Tours’ Battlefield tours to visit the Somme. Then that was delayed due to Covid which gave Andy and Katie extra time to investigate but I had no idea what they found out.
“We learned that my grandfather had enlisted in the 8th Battalion, North Staffordshire Regiment. He was just 14 years old at the time and was sent to France after his education.
“By the time he was 16, he had already seen more action than men many years older than himself, and he was promoted to lance corporal in the field.
“On November 18, 1916, he and his troops prepared an attack, but as they advanced he was wounded. He suffered shrapnel wounds and was evacuated to the field hospital.
“While he was being treated the rest of his battalion was overwhelmed and out of 500 only 70 came back. His injury actually saved his life.
“I can’t wait to share my grandfather’s story with others – it brings history to life and it’s so important that we keep these stories alive so we never forget the sacrifices those soldiers made all those years ago.” brought.”
Dave said his grandfather was later sent home and given a small silver lapel badge to wear to show he had returned with an injury to avoid being accused of cowardice.
“Andy presented us with a silver badge and replica medals during the trip. My grandfather’s badge and medals had been lost over time so it was great to receive these keepsakes.
“We visited all the places my grandfather would have gone – it was so peaceful and rural. We even had a picnic very close to where he would have walked.”
Dave, a former Royal Military Policeman who later served as a constable with West Midlands Police, said his grandfather lived a full and happy life.
“He worked as a bus conductor for many years, so he was still in uniform. He had four children, one died in infancy.
“But he never spoke about his life in the military.”
Century Tours Somme’s anniversary tour will take place from June 29th to July 2nd. For more details visit www.facebook.com/centurytoursuk or email [email protected] for a full itinerary.