Arthur George & Charles William Thear

 Arthur George Thear
Private 2613
13th Kensington Battalion London Regiment

 AGThear photo  CIMG2145

Arthur George Thear was the  son of Charles and Carrie Thear,  of 12, Victoria Street, Kings Road, Reading. He died of wounds and is buried in a registered war grave number 16097.  His name is commemorated on the scroll headstone of the family grave.

Arthur Thear joined up very soon after the war was declared but as the following newspaper article shows he had hardly been at the front any length of time before he was seriously injured.

The Chronicle April 9th  1915:

“ Private Arthur George Thear, 13th (Kensington Batt.), wounded at Neuve Chapelle, died on Saturday 3rd April at Wandsworth Hospital, and was buried on Wednesday at Reading.  He was only in France two weeks before being wounded.  The toes of one foot were shot off, and the other foot was altogether blown off.  Previous to joining the Army he was a footman in the service of Lord Ilchester at Holland House Kensington W., and at the funeral there was a wreath from the Countess of Ilchester, besides wreaths from many of his friends.



Charles William Thear
Lance Serjeant 2496
Argyle & Sutherland Highlanders 

Charles W Thear photo

Charles William Thear was the  son of Charles and Carrie Thear,  of 12, Victoria Street, Kings Road, Reading. He was killed in action on 5th August 1916 aged 30.  He is buried at Caterpillar Valley Cemetery, Longueval. Plot XVI. K. 10.

He is  commemorated on the scroll headstone of his brothers grave. The inscription on the scroll states that Charles Thear was killed in action and buried at Martinpuch.  This may have been the case but after the Armistice a number of smaller cemeteries and battlefield graves were concentrated in larger cemeteries.  Caterpillar Valley is such a cemetery and has been chosen by the Royal Mail to feature on one of its Millennium stamps.

On August 5th 1916 the Somme battle was still raging and a particularly important objective was High Wood on the way to Martinpuch.  Thousands of men died in a number of attempts to capture the wood so that they could press on the Martinpuch, situated near the Albert to Bapaume road.  It was not until 15th September in a major offensive involving tanks that this objective was finally taken.  Charles Thear was killed in one of the unsuccessful earlier attacks.


Leslie Thomson

Leslie Thomson
Rifleman 1877
16th Batt. London Regt. Queen’s Westminster Rifles

Thomson L photo Thomson L cem mem Thomson L grave

Leslie Thomson was the second son of Mr Walter and Mrs Thomson, hairdresser, of High Street, Reading and 18 Lorne St. Reading.  He was educated at Kendrick School and Christ’s Hospital (where he was in the Officers’ Training Corps), at the outbreak of the war he was employed in the Army and Navy stores.  He at once enlisted, and went with his battalion to Hemel Hemsted.  In November the battalion went to France, where they were involved in trench work.  On one occasion Leslie had a narrow escape when brining in a wounded comrade.

The Standard  Jan 16th 1915 published an extract of a letter from Walter to his father with the headline,

 “80 yards from the enemy”

Leslie Thomson was in the firing line with his regiment when they exchanged greetings with the enemy on Christmas day 1914.

“They were a rather weedy lot, although they included some fine American Germans.  Not a shot was fired all day.  In the morning we had a Communion Service under the most picturesque circumstances.

We have moved into new trenches now and are only about eighty yards from the enemy.  We are too near each other to be able to employ artillery, but of course we watch each other very closely”.

He was in action on the 18th March 1915 in the trenches near Houplines when a rifle grenade, fired by the Germans burst just behind him.  He died in hospital the following day from his wounds. He was 22 years old.

His mother also received the usual letter informing her of his death:-

Dear Madam,

I regret that it is my painful duty to have to inform you of your son’s death.  He died this morning of wounds received in action yesterday.  It is very sad, as he was such a nice boy, and well liked by all, and it is a great loss to his company, as he was so keen; also to the battalion.  It may be a little consolation to you to know where his body was placed at rest.  His funeral took place today.  The Commanding Officer and some of his comrades were present.  The Rev. H. M. Webb-Peplow performed the ceremony.  The effects found on his person will be forwarded as early as possible. 

Believe me to remain in you great loss,
Yours in deepest sympathy,
A. N. Davis, S.A.

Leslie Thomson is buried in Cite Bonjean Military Cemetery, Armentieres.  Grave location IX.C.17.  His funeral was described by Major Tyrwhitt in a letter to his parents.

“Your son was buried by the chaplain to the brigade in the hospital cemetery, and I was fortunate to be able to attended the service with a number of his comrades.  His grave will be marked by a simple wooden cross, bearing his name and that of his regiment, and a careful record of its position will be kept at our headquarters.  Your son was always a bright, and cheerful man, and such a good soldier that I shall personally much miss him, as will many of his comrades to whom he had endeared himself.”

Forty two of his comrades signed a letter to his mother, each expressing heartfelt sympathy with her in her loss, and stating:

”We shall miss him very much, as he was a good soldier, one who could be relied upon to do his duty in the face of any odds, and he was always very willing to do all he could for the comfort of his fellow men.”

He is commemorated on the family grave with the words:

“He gave his heart to God, his life for his King and Country”.

Harry Tillen

Harry Tillen
Able Seaman Royal Navy H.M.S. “Invincible”


 Harry Tillen was the son of Kate Allen (formerly Tillen) of 46, Crescent Road. (CWGC register gives spelling as Tillin)  The 1901 census indicates that Kate had married George Stephen Allen, a gasman’s labourer and they lived at 57 Foxhill Road, Reading. Harry was the youngest of Kate’s three children who are recorded as George’s step children. The 1911 census indicates that the family hadmoved to Crescent Road and Harry was working as a grocers errand boy. 

Harry Tillen was lost at sea and his name is commemorated on the Portsmouth Naval Memorial. His name is commemorated on the Alfred Sutton School Memorial  and also commemorated on the Park Church and Institute Memorial.   Harry Tillen was aged 20 years when he died.

 The H.M.S. “Invincible” was among the Battle Cruisers of the Grand Fleet which was reviewed by the King in July 1914.  The Britain Empire ruled the seas and was superior to any other Empire in the number of vessels at its disposal.  Harry Tillen would have been proud to serve as an able seaman in this navy.

 In 1916 with a stalemate on land it became the turn of the navies to try and break the deadlock at sea.  The British Grand Fleet was based in the Firth of Forth, Moray Firth and Scapa Flow;  the German High Seas Fleet at Wilhelmshaven.  On the morning of 31st May 1916 Mary Clarke, a young nursing sister on board the Grand Fleet Hospital Ship Plassy,  watched the cruisers steaming up and with the other nurses “wondered if there is really anything doing this time, there have been so many false alarms.”  She recorded in her diary that “this evening after dinner two or three officers arrived in board with note books etc to find out what accommodation we had got for the wounded, how many cots, how many stretchers etc & later on we got a signal to get full steam going, so as to sail at a moments notice.”  The battle cruisers she had watched in the morning had been setting out for Jutland, a Danish territory, by evening two of them had already been sunk by the German navy. The “anything doing” turned out to be Battle of Jutland, the only major sea battle of the Great War.