Tom Hurtley is my great uncle – my grandmother’s brother. His birth is registered in the September quarter of 1897 and he is the sixth of seven children born to James Hurtley and Ellen Paley.
I have been lucky enough to find what remains of Tom’s WW1 service records on www.ancestry.co.uk but sadly the quality of them is not very good.
Tom enlisted in February 1916 and in August he was appointed to the West Riding Regiment. His service number was 203517. Occupation at the time of enlisting is shown as ‘cowman’ – he worked on his father’s farm at Town Head, Cononley, West Yorkshire.
The ‘medical history sheet’ shows that he was examined in Halifax, West Yorkshire on 19 August 1916. He is said to be 5 feet 5.5 inches tall and weighing 117lbs. His physical development is described as good.
According to the ‘military history sheet’ Tom was at home from 19 August 1916 to 13 December 1916.
He embarked on 14 December 1916 heading to France. The next piece of information I can find is that Tom appears to have been awarded the Military Medal for ‘bravery on the field’ – the date looks to be 4 October 1918 – see what you think below.
The extract above also shows that he was wounded on 11 October 1918.
Tom was finally ‘demobbed’ on 26 October 1919. However, like many of his comrades he was retained in the Class Z Reserve.
Class Z Reserve was authorised by an Army Order of 3 December 1918. There were fears that Germany would not accept the terms of any peace treaty, and therefore the British Government decided it would be wise to be able to quickly recall trained men in the eventuality of the resumption of hostilities. Soldiers who were being demobilised, particularly those who had agreed to serve “for the duration”, were at first posted to Class Z. They returned to civilian life but with an obligation to return if called upon. The Z Reserve was abolished on 31 March 1920.
Tom married Ada Binns sometime in the September quarter of 1922. They had one daughter, Ellen, born in 1923.
I remember as a young boy visiting relatives in Cononley with my parents in the early 1960’s and can recall meeting Tom and Ada. Little did I realise at the time how much there was to admire about Tom and his bravery.
Tom died in 1977 aged about 80.