Figure 9: The original headstone (before deterioration) (left) and the new Commonwealth War Graves Commission headstone standing over Neville's grave in Wareham

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Tattersfield Trees



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The Tattersfield Family Tree

Tattersfields in the Military
Contributed by
Various Authors


Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Some TATTERSFIELDs who Went to War.
  3. Second Lieutenant Neville TATTERSFIELD.



Introduction will go here.


2. Some TATTERSFIELDs who Went to War

1. Introduction.

(This article was written by John Tattersfield, with inputs and information by John David Tattersfield, who is also the author of the paper, below, about Neville Tattersfield. For its World War 1 information, this article draws on David’s extensive researches for his book “A Village Goes to War”).

This paper seeks to list all Tattersfields, and their close relatives, who were involved in the armed forces in times of conflict. It is not complete, and readers are invited to send in details of other men and women who were engaged in warfare, and whose names are not mentioned. Also any corrections or addition of details, photographs, and memorabilia will be very welcome.

Apart from an overall list, in Section 3 below, the paper sets out, in Sections 4 and 5, more details of a few individuals. It is hoped to increase the number of these as more information is gathered.

The earliest record of a Tattersfield in the army relates to Richard, who was a soldier from 1783 to 1811. In all, seven soldiers are known to have served between then and the Boer War. Three of these ended their military careers in the United States.

World War 1 saw many join the army, either as volunteers or conscripts. Many fought in foreign theatres of war, and not a few were killed or later died as a result of their wounds.

The USA entered the war in April 1917. Although many US citizens wished to volunteer, it was decided that men would be called up, instead of using a volunteering system.

About 1917 and 1918 a few Tattersfields registered in USA. The dates suggest it is unlikely any served abroad or, perhaps, even actually joined up. (The registrations of two Tatterfields are also shown, although their relationship to the Tattersfield family is still a matter of conjecture.)

There must have been a large number of Tattersfields involved in World War 2, but researches so far have brought only a few to light. It is very much hoped readers will send in names and details of their relatives.

2. Some Common Tattersfield Careers in Peace-time.

The careers pursued by Tattersfield sons have, not surprisingly, been strongly influenced by where they were born.

By far the largest number came from the Dewsbury/Heckmondwike area, in the centre of the Yorkshire heavy woollen district. Many were weavers or clothiers in the early years of records, and the more successful became blanket manufacturers, employing significant work forces. Some had allied trades as fullers, tailors, dyers and warehousemen. There was a sprinkling of farmers and labourers too. Often the trades ran in families.

The early migrants to York (Chart 5), from about 1800, moved to a city sited on a main river, the Ouse. They were mostly watermen. After a couple of generations, this gave way to glass workers, bricklayers and labourers. In Hull (Chart 6) there was a family of butchers.

The earliest known Tattersfield in London (Chart 7) was a sail maker, around 1805-1808, but for the next three generations most of his descendants were fishmongers. One of them is said to have had the nickname "King of Billingsgate"

The first to move to Leeds (Chart 8) carried on as a clothier, but that was not to last. The Lancashire Tattersfields (Chart 9), though apparently started by a waterman, were predominantly tailors in the early years, much more so than their Yorkshire counterparts.

A few Tattersfields chose the army as their career, some ending up in the US Cavalry, as described under "Some Tattersfields who Emigrated from England". Then came conscription in World War 1 and again in World War 2, with a vast expansion of the number of Tattersfields who became temporarily involved in warfare.

3. List of Tattersfields Who Served in War.

The following table shows a few main details of all the Tattersfields known to have been in the armed forces in times of war. No attempt has been made to list the many who were called up for National Service in peace time. (Insert here the Excel spreadsheet listing details of all who served in war.)

4. Some Individual Military Records up to 1939.

More details are given below of some of those in the above list.

4.1. Richard Tattersfield (c1747-after 1811)- 2nd and 10th Foot Regiments and 8th Royal Veteran Battalion.

The earliest Tattersfield known to have seen military service was Richard. His Discharge documents, held at the Public Records Office, covering his army career, give all the information presently known about him. He was born in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, but no record has been found of his birth, baptism, early life marriage or death.

Richard was a big man for those days, 5' 10" tall, with hazel eyes and a fresh complexion.

On Christmas Day, 1783, he enlisted with the 2nd Foot Regiment. He was already 36 years old, and a tailor by trade. He served in that Regiment, as a private soldier, for the next 13 years, after which he transferred to the 10th Foot Regiment in 1796. He continued to serve, as a private, for 11 years, which included 3 years in the West Indies. The latter period seems to have counted as 4 1/2 years in the assessment of his Total Service.

On Christmas Day 1807 he transferred to the 8th Royal Veteran Battalion. This may have been a holding unit for time-expired soldiers. The Colonel, presumably honorary, was General John W.T. Watson. Richard served, still a private, for 3 years 122 days in Captain James Harvey's Company.

Finally, on 23 April 1811, at Fort Cumberland, which guarded the naval base at Portsmouth, he was discharged from the army at the tender age of 63. He had served in the army for 27 years and four months.

To prevent any improper use of his Discharge document, if it fell into the wrong hands, his age, height, colour of eyes, complexion and trade were recorded on it, plus the fact that his hair was grey! It is recorded that he had been "Well conducted in this Battalion". Evidently Richard could not write, as he signed with a X to acknowledge he had received "all my Clothing, Pay, Arrears of Pay, and all just Demands whatsoever......and 6 Days Pay and Marching Money from the Date hereof. Received no Clothing for the present year Shoes excepted". His rate of pay seems to have been one shilling three and a half pence per day, or about 6 1/2p per day in modern money!

Presumably the 6 days marching money was to pay for the time it would take him to walk to Huddersfield from Fort Cumberland on the south coast. Would the army shoes issued to him have lasted the journey?

Why was Richard, now aged 63, discharged? The Surgeon to the 8th Royal Veteran Battalion, M. Balfour, signed the Discharge form to confirm that Richard Tattersfield " considered unfit for further consequence of being worn out".

You had to be tough in those days!

4.2. Mark Tattersfield (Bef 26.7.1776-aft 1841)- 1st West York Regt. Chart 6- Hull.

A little is known about Mark from various church records, relating to him and to his family. No military records have been found.

It was Mark who, in his middle years, went to live in Hull, and started the Tattersfield family there, which exists to the present.

Mark's parents, David Tattersfield and Martha, nee Hall, were married in Dewsbury Parish Church on 3rd Dec 1771, by Banns, both being "of Dewsbury". Both signed with a X. In all, they had thirteen children, Mark being the third, all baptised or buried in Dewsbury. Five disappeared from the record after baptism, six died as young children, and only Mark and a sister appear to have married.

Mark was baptised on 26 July 1776, but his date of birth is not known. He married a girl called Hannah, but the record has not been found.

On 7 May 1807, Bishops' Transcripts show that a daughter Jane was born to Mark Tattersfield and Hannah in Scarborough, on the east Yorkshire coast. Then, surprisingly, a boy David was baptised in Maker, Cornwall, on 19 Mar 1809, his father Mark "belonging to ye first West York Militia", according to the Baptism register.

A third child Martha was born on 18 Mar 1811 and baptised on 23 Feb 1812 in Leeds Parish Church, the father being Mark Tattersfield of Bank. Martha was buried at St. Peter's Parish Church, Leeds, on 21 Feb 1813, "daughter of Mark Tattersfield and Hannah of Bank".

The fourth child, Joseph, was baptised on 2 July 1813 in the Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Dover, Kent. He was "of Dover Heights". The father was Mark Tattersfield, a Private Soldier, 1st W. York Regt., as stated in the Register.

Next came Henry, baptised 1 Oct 1815 at St. Mary Lowgate, Hull, son of Mark and Hannah Tattersfield of Church Alleys, the father being a clothier. Henry was buried on 8 Feb 1919, when the family lived at Broadley Street, Hull.

Three more children Hannah, David and Jane Elizabeth, were all baptised in St. Mary, Lowgate, Hull, the father being a clothier.

It seems that Mark, born in Dewsbury, joined, first, the West York Militia, and was stationed at Scarborough, on the east coast of Yorkshire, and then at Maker, near the naval dockyard of Plymouth, in the south west. By 1813, in the 1st West York Regiment, he was in the important military centre of Dover, in the extreme south east.

From 1803 Britain had been at war with the France of Napoleon. No evidence has been found that Mark ever crossed the Channel to fight the French, but it is tempting to think he played his part in helping to prevent any invasion of England.

When Mark returned to the North, it is not known why he went to live in Hull. Perhaps his wife came from there? At all events, he set up as a clothier, a common trade in the Dewsbury area of his origin.

After 1824 nothing more is known of Mark, except that in the 1841 Census Mark Tattersfrield (sic) was in St. Swithin, Lincoln, about 35 miles south of Hull. He was aged 65 (or 68), staying with the family of a cooper called Hilton, and was not born in the County of Lincolnshire. No other detail is given.

Hannah, wife of Mark Tattersfield of Broadley Street, was buried in St. Mary, Lowgate, Hull on 18 Aug 1828, aged 46. No record has been found of Mark's death.

The descendants of Mark and Hannah may be seen on Chart 6, under Tattersfield Trees.

4.3. John Tattersfield (c1828-aft1880); Thomas Tattersfield (c1850-26.1.1874); James Tattersfield (1850-1924)

The stories of these three early soldiers are given on this website under "Some Tattersfields Who Emigrated from England".

4.4. Thomas Tattersfield (c1850-aft. 1883). Royal Regiment of Artillery.

Thomas was born in St. Cuthbert's Parish, York. His parentage is still being researched, but he was probably the sixth child of Richard Tattersfield, bricklayer, and his second wife Margaret nee Littlewood. The child was born on 5 Nov 1844, and baptised as Thomas Littlewood Tattersfield. The second name did not, however, appear in any later records.

Thomas signed Proceedings of Attestation in Scarborough on 4 June 1877, and joined the Royal Regiment of Artillery at Woolwich on 13 June 1877 for twelve years of service. He declared himself to be aged 25 years and zero months, making him born about June 1852, and not 5 Nov 1844, as presumed above- a discrepancy of nearly 8 years.

Thomas's next of kin was named as his brother John in York. This is consistent with him being Thomas Littlewood Tattersfield, despite the age discrepancy of almost eight years. Did he understate his age by that amount, on applying to enter the army, to boost his chances of being accepted?

He was a waterman by trade, and unmarried. His height was 68 inches, weight 140 lbs, chest 37 inches. His "Physical Development" was good, and he may have had smallpox marks on the face.

He had previous service with the Yorkshire Artillery Militia. He signed his name very neatly. The terms were no Bounty and a free kit.

Thomas was assigned initially to 2 Brigade, called Depot Brigade, but transferred at the end of June 1877 to 5 Brigade, where he stayed until 1 Jan 1882, when he went back to 2 Brigade. On 8 Nov 1882 he was placed in 1st Brigade, Cinque Ports.

He served two periods in India, the first just over two years, and the second 343 days.

All was not well with Thomas. On 2 Oct 1877, four months after enlisting, he spent 18 days in hospital at Woolwich with orchitis. Not long after, he was transferred to India, and arrived at Fyzabad (probably today’s Faizabad) on 13 Feb 1878. There he contracted conjunctivitis, particularly in the right eye, and spent periods of 26, 74 and 37 days in hospital.

On 21 March 1880 he was sent back to England, and went straight into Woolwich hospital for 3 days, where it was concluded he had "No appreciable disease".

On 4 June 1880 he transferred to Weedon Barracks in Northamptonshire. Five periods in hospital were to follow, the longest of 51 days, resulting from conjuctivitis, bronchial catarrh and primary syphilis. He left Weedon on 14 Nov. 1881. During the Census of April 1881, Thomas was at Weedon Barracks. Strangely the Census calls him Henry. How can we know it was the same man? The Census records that he was "Handicapped. Blind In One Eye".

Twelve days after his last release from hospital, he was shipped back to India, arriving at Allmuck(?) on 2 Feb 1882. A month later he spent 42 days in hospital with ague, brought on by the "severe climate". Four more periods in hospital followed, from debility and ague, after which, on 12 Oct 1882, he was "Recommended for a change to England" by the Surgeon Major.

On 14 Dec 1882 a Medical Board at Herbert Hospital, Woolwich, decided "recommended for discharge-disease-'General Debility'". He was finally discharged on 30 Jan 1883. He stated he was going to Mr. J. Stephenson, Piccadilly, York.

Of 5 years and 240 days in the army, Thomas had spent 386 days in various hospitals. Despite this, his conduct at different dates in his career was recorded as "Habits Regular-temperate-conduct very good".

After his discharge from the army, no further reference to Thomas has been found in censuses, marriage or death records. Where do people disappear to?

The wretched army career of Thomas is a salutary reminder that soldiers in times past were as much in danger from disease as from any military enemy.

4.5. John William Tattersfield (1880-1921)- Lancashire Fusiliers. Chart 9 - Lancashire.

John was unusual in that he took part in two different wars.

He was the seventh of nine children of William Tattersfield and Eliza Ann nee Saxon, who married at St. Luke's Church, Heywood, Bury, Lancashire, on 4 Aug 1873. Of the nine children, the eldest died unmarried at 25, John William lived to be 41, his youngest sister was married at 22, and the other six all died before they were two years old. Such was life in those days.

John William was born on 31 Jan 1880 in Heywood. He was with his parents in the Censuses of 1881 and 1891. In the latter , aged 11, he was already working as a "doffer(?) cotton".

On 31 Jan 1900, his 20th birthday, he enlisted at Bury in The Lancashire Fusiliers. His grand daughter, Vera Lord, has kindly provided the photograph below, with John William in the centre in uniform. It is speculated the photograph might have been taken about 1900, soon after he enlisted. One of those with him might have been his brother Ellis, who died early in 1900.

(Photo of John William and 2 others)

No papers have been seen for his first military service, but The Lancashire Fusiliers Museum in Bury have said "He had a fresh complexion, brown eyes and dark hair. Height 5' 3 1/2", 34/35 chest. He described himself as a farrier, religion C.of E., weight 122 lbs. After the Boer War he was discharged in South Africa on 5 May 1902 and elected to remain there. His original Regimental Number was 8857. He was awarded the South Africa Medal with the following bars:- Cape Colony, Orange Free State, Transvaal, 1901 Star. He presumably re-enlisted in the Great War and was given the number 200541".

Despite his apparent decision to stay on in South Africa, he was back in England on 11 Jan 1903, when he married Sarah Ann Bridge in St. Mark's Parish Church, Bury. They were to have five children between 1904 and 1917. His Marriage Certificate described him as a cloth finisher, and his wife a cotton operator.

John William enlisted again in The Lancashire Fusiliers on 4 Sept 1914. It is unlikely that in 1914, 14 years after his first enlistment, he would have been on any reserve. It is likely that his joining up was voluntary, rather than from an obligation. He rose to the rank of Colour Sergeant, and seems to have been sent to Egypt. He was awarded the Victory and British (?) Medals, the 1915 Star and Silver War Badge (SWB).

LINKS. Subject to confirmation include 3 Links suggested by David.

At Christmas 1918, John William sent a Lancashire Fusiliers card, shown below, "To Pretty Jane from her Dad", with the injunction "Keep this card as long as you live". His daughter Jane would have been nearly nine at the time. She kept the card, and, on her death, it was found and kept by her daughter Vera Lord.

(Show card-either alone or at end with grave stone).

John William was discharged from the army on 23 June 1919. Sadly, he was not to live long. On 13 Aug 1921, aged 41, he died in a mental hospital at Betchworth, near Reigate, Surrey. He had been admitted there from Ewell Neurological Hospital. He died from "General Paralysis of the Insane 6 months and Dysentery 4 days".

John William was buried in Reigate and his Commonwealth War Graves Commemoration Stone in Bury is shown below. A sad end to a soldiering life.

(Show Commonwealth War Graves stone with or without Christmas card).

4.6. Albert Roland Tattersfield. RAF. Chart 7- London.

Albert Roland was the third child born to Samuel Tattersfield, a London fish salesman, and Annie Lane, nee Hall, who married in Hackney in 1876. In the Census of 1901 he was a cork packer, aged 19.

He married Mary Anne Charlotte Dorey in Camberwell on 17 Sept 1911. She had a daughter Ann Charlotte, born in Camberwell on 24 May 1915, during the course of World War 1.

The National Roll of the Great War describes his military career in the following terms :- “Tattersfield A.R., Air Mechanic, RAF. He joined in July 1916, and after completing his training was engaged at various stations on important duties which demanded a high degree of technical skill. He rendered valuable services, but was not successful in obtaining his transfer overseas before the cessation of hostilities. He was demobilised in March 1919. 19, Matham Road, E. Dulwich, S.E.22.”

He died in Roehampton on 19 Oct, 1971.

4.7. Frank Alexander Tattersfield. 25th London Regiment (Cyclist). Chart 7- London.

Frank Alexander was the younger brother of Albert Roland Tattersfield. His mother was Annie Lane Tattersfield, nee Hall.

Quoting again from The National Roll of the Great War:- “Tattersfield, F.A., Pte., 25th London Rgt. (Cyclist). Joining in March 1916, he was transferred to the 17th London Regt. (Rifles), and drafted to France in the following October. He was employed on special duties at Le Havre for a time, but afterwards joined his unit in the Ypres salient, and was present at the Messines engagement. Later he was gassed while serving at Bourlon Wood. Subsequently transferred to the M.G.C. he was in action in the Retreat and afterwards in the Advance at Cambrai. He holds the General Service and Victory Medals, and was demobilised in January 1919. 19, Matham Grove, East Dulwich, S.E.22.”

Frank Alexander died on holiday, at Alacio, Italy, at an unknown date.

4.8. Mary Jane Tattersfield ( 16 May 1885- c May 1957) - Nursing Sister in Salonika and Serbia. Chart 2,3 Heckmondwike.

Mary was born in Batley, Yorkshire, on 16 May 1885, the 8th of 10 children. Her parents were Joseph and Betsy, nee Pickering. Her grandfather was George Tattersfield (1822-1887), about whom a separate article is shown on this Website. Mary was a younger sister of my grandfather Charles Pickering Tattersfield.

Little is known of her early life. She had major surgery as a girl, which might have interfered with her schooling. She was with her parents and siblings in Ravensthorpe in the 1891 Census, and in Thornhill in 1901, when, aged 16, she was doing household duties. She was never to marry.

No details have been found about her schooling. It is believed she did her nursing training at a northern hospital.

Records show that in October 1914 she joined the British Expeditionary Force, and disembarked in Europe in November. Knowledge of her early war is sketchy. She was a Nursing Sister in the British Red Cross Society, employed in the United Allies Wounded Nursing Area. In this role she was awarded the British Medal and the Victory Medal.

At an unknown date she was transferred to the French Red Cross (FRX), and worked in Salonika and Serbia, under the Serbian Relief Committee.

An undated letter written by Mary to her older sister Mrs. Nellie Himsworth, was published in a Dewsbury newspaper. It describes her as a Red Cross Nurse, who went to France soon after the outbreak of war, under the auspices of the Ebenezer Church, Dewsbury. She was now doing Red Cross work in Salonika (today Thessaloniki in northern Greece). The letter is chatty and informal, talking about the delayed arrival of letters, the glorious scenery with snow-capped mountains, the anticipation of receiving a food parcel, a dance held in the mess room over Christmas, and whether she might get some local leave. She was working with a Serbian doctor, a British relief worker, six Serbian RAMC orderlies, and a number of Bulgarian prisoners who helped. She said she had to speak "Macedonski, Serbski, French and English"! She added ".....for the civil population I have two Scottish lady doctors, so there's lots to do, and I like it." Mary wrote the letter in her kitchen, which was "just a little over two yards wide and three or four long-nothing on the floor except earth".

The horrors of her situation were passed over lightly in this description: "Every two or three days we have visitors in the sky, and if one wishes to see star-shells, etc., well, we only have to wander a few yards behind our huts and you get as many fireworks as you want. It is an interesting change from doing base-work. If any soldiers or civilians are taken ill or wounded it is one of my duties to do the first dressing and then send them along to hospital for the military part of the programme.........Have come across all nationalities fighting in this wretched war, so wonder when it will be over.........My tent is built on a battlefield of a year ago, and there are many relics, though much too big for me to carry, am sorry to say."

(Show photo of Mary and three others in uniform with caption "Mary Tattersfield (left), nursing sister in or near Serbia in WW1.")

Towards the end of the war, and after it was over, there are references to Mary in Reports by a Mr. R.C.Grey to the Committee of the Serbian Relief Fund, Salonika, kept in the Imperial War Museum, London. On 3 Dec 1917 he reported "It has been arranged that Miss Tattersfield should go up country for a time at least, as there was no prospect of utilising her services in Salonika for the present, nor was there anywhere for her to live." Presumably she had just arrived, and "up country" was a reference to the battle zone in Macedonia or Serbia.

In a report on 5 Mar 1918, Mr. Grey stated " Skochivir Sister Tattersfield and Miss Middlemore are on the best of terms with the villagers and the children, which is more than half the battle". (Skochivir is in the south of Macedonia, until recently in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia).

On 14 January 1919, Mary herself wrote a private report for the Committee of the Serbian Relief Fund, written from Kumanavo, in northern Macedonia, near the Serbian Border. It is quoted in full below:-

"Private- for the Committee only.
From Sister Tattersfield.


14th January 1919.

Work was begun by myself and Miss Middlemore in Kavardar on October 12th 1918, when a dispensary was opened for the civilian population, however as there was no doctor there, military patients were also treated by us.

There was a great deal of sickness in the town, there being a population of approximately 5,000 people, who had received very little treatment during the time of enemy occupation- a period of about three years - hence there was a good deal of medical work to be done, both in the Dispensary and in the homes of the people.

During our nine weeks' stay there were no less than 3,296 patients treated, most of them being Malarial, Dysentery, Influenza and wounded, many of the latter having come down to us from the frontier villages, almost a day's journey in many instances. Clothing, etc. was also distributed, both in the town itself and surrounding villages, many families being entirely without; their gratitude being unspeakable for anything that was done for them. There were also patients that were retained by us, most of them severely wounded, whom it was impossible to nurse or attend to in any other way, the condition in the town being much too bad, also there was no food of any description to be bought, sanitary conditions were nil; therefore it was thought best to keep these patients until some means of transport, etc, could be found.

The outpost was closed on December 9th, the Serbian doctor arriving the following day."

Perhaps the most telling account of Mary's WW1 record is given in a note, added to the above report, by Dr. Chenow as follows:-

Note from Dr. Chenow.

"This report really gives no idea of the fine work done by Sister Tattersfield and Miss Middlemore, under exceedingly trying conditions. Moreover both suffered from illness during that time, Sister Tattersfield from a severe attack of gripps, and Miss Middlemore from recurrent attacks of malaria yet this was not allowed to interfere in any way with their work. I regard them both as among the very best and most valuable of our workers.

Miss Tattersfield and Miss Middlemore are now at Kumanova, where I have no doubt they will do an equally fine work."

It is believed that Mary was decorated by the French and Serbian Governments, as well as the British, but details have not been found. Sadly, her decorations were later stolen.

(Insert photo of Dorothy in Serb costume with caption "Mary's niece Dorothy Tattersfield (later Cooke) wearing Serbian dress brought home by Mary".

After the war it is known that Mary spent some time in the Dewsbury area as a private nurse to a Lady Oldroyd. She also ran a clinic at Bourneville. She also worked for a time in Birmingham and may have become head of public health for the City.

In 1946, after she retired, Mary went to live with her brother James Percival for a year, when his wife Annie was in hospital, incapacitated by a stroke. Later, when her elder, unmarried, sister Edith Hannah had a heart condition, Mary went to look after her in Bradford. Edith Hannah was secretary to Tattersfield and Co. in Bradford. Mary died there about May 1957, and Edith some three months later.

5. Some Individual Military Records after 1939.

5.1.David Crossley Tattersfield (c May 1926-7 Jan 1949)- RAF. Chart 1. An International Incident.

David Crossley Tattersfield's family had moved away from West Yorkshire. His grandfather Crossley Tattersfield was born in Ravensthorpe in 1864, married a York girl, and moved to Knaresborough between 1881 and 1891, where he ran the Union Inn.

One of his sons, Edwin Crossley (Teddy) Tattersfield, married Olive May Willetts from Birmingham, where their only child David Crossley was born on 28 May 1926. Teddy had fought in World War 1, and is listed in the table in Section 3 above.

On 21 April 1947 David was awarded a Certificate as a Cadet Pilot, taken on a DH82A at 15 E.F.T.S.

David joined the RAF about the end of World War 2, and was commissioned as a Pilot Officer in February 1948. A few months later he was sent to the Middle East, at a time of hostilities between Egypt and the Israelis. The declaration of the new state of Israel was to be signed soon afterwards, on 14 May 1948.

On the morning of 7 Jan 1949, an RAF tactical reconnaissance was being flown near the Egyptian/Palestinian border, with orders not to cross from Egyptian into Palestinian air space. Close to the border town of Rafiah one of the aircraft, a Spitfire, was hit by ground fire, and the pilot baled out. While the other three pilots in the formation were preoccupied in watching to see where their comrade would land, they were attacked by Israeli fighters, also Spitfires, and all three were shot down. Two pilots baled out, and one was killed. Of the three pilots who baled out, one was picked up by Bedouin in Egypt, and returned to base. The other two were captured by the Israelis.

The same afternoon the RAF mounted another tactical reconnaissance. The aircraft were attacked by Israeli fighters and returned fire. One RAF Tempest was shot down, and its pilot killed. He was Pilot Officer David Crossley Tattersfield, aged 22.

Four days later, on 11 Jan., three United Nations military observers from Tel Aviv went to the French Hospital in Jaffa. They escorted the body, together with an Israeli Liaison Officer and a guard of honour composed of Israeli Military Police, to the British Military Cemetery in Ramleh. The burial service was conducted by Rev. Roger Allison, and attended by Mr. Marriott, British Consul in Haifa.

The news of David's death in England can be seen in the following article from the Droitwich & Redditch Weekly.

(Show whole of single column article- enlarged) and show his photo in garden.

(show photo of burial-reduce size )

David's parents sent a card to their many sympathisers.

"In Loving Memory


our Dearly Beloved only Child

Pilot Officer

David Crossley Tattersfield,

Aged 22 years.

Killed on Reconnaisance Flight in Egypt

January 7th 1949.

David's Mother and Father

do earnestly thank you for

your kind letter of sympathy

which has been a great comfort

to them in their tragic loss.

31 Mill Lane,


Birmingham 31.


A Court of Inquiry was held into the loss of five RAF fighters on the same day. Attention focussed on whether the aircraft had crossed the Palestinian border, as the Israelis claimed. The Court found that they had not, although David Tattersfield's plane crashed and burned out on the Palestinian side of the border. There were suggestions that the Israelis had tried to cover up the locations of the wreckage of some of the aircraft. This version of events was contradicted in an Israeli statement to the United Nations in New York, which argued that the morning and afternoon flights had been thought to be hostile, the latter even carrying bombs.

The shooting down of five RAF aircraft was a matter of serious international importance. There are numerous de-classified records of it in the National Archives, some originally Secret or Top Secret. It also led to multi-party criticism of the British Foreign Secretary, Ernest Bevin, as reported on 16 Jan. 1949 in the Sunday Times-Signal of Zanesville, Ohio.

(Copy newspaper report.)

Among the records in the National Archives is the following letter, written to David's father Teddy, but without the name of the author.

(Copy letter of sympathy from Israeli).

On 9 Feb. Teddy wrote to the Foreign Secretary asking whether the British Government would press for compensation from the Israelis for the loss of lives and aircraft. The draft reply indicates that the matter had been raised with Dr. Ralph Bunche, the former U.N. Acting Mediator in Palestine. After giving it the most careful consideration, he did not intend to make a report to the Security Council.

Teddy wrote again, asking for a photograph of David's grave. The International War Graves Commission Custodian for Ramleh placed a wooden cross on the grave and arranged for a local photographer to visit. The cost was £1-12-0. IWG funds could not meet the cost, so a request for payment was sent from the British Legation in tel Aviv to the Eastern Department of the Foreign Office in London, asking them to send the photographs to Teddy, and to request that he pay the bill!

Teddy wrote again, requesting that David's grave should have the normal military headstone. The draft reply, on behalf of the Foreign Secretary, said that there was no provision for the erection of such headstones in peacetime. He would ask the Air Ministry whether an exception could be made. Available correspondence does not show whether this modest request was ever met. Nor does it show whether Teddy ever paid the bill!




3. Second Lieutenant Neville TATTERSFIELD.

7 April 1892 - 20 November 1918

His Involvement in the First Ever Tank Battle

This article was written by David John Tattersfield. The article relates to Neville, whose descent was Joseph | Moses | John | Moses Lister, and who also appears in Chart 1. David is second cousin twice removed to his subject. David researched the World War I history of Neville in the course of writing his book 'A Village Goes To War'.

My interest in the First World War started in 1990 when I read a book entitled First Day on the Somme by Martin Middlebrook. I was so impressed with the book that the following year my brother and I went to France to visit the battlefields of the Great War. Upon returning home I took a close look at the war memorial in our Parish Church, St. Saviour's in Ravensthorpe. Despite being a (relatively) regular attendee, I was surprised to discover the name of Neville Tattersfield on the memorial. This discovery prompted me to research the names of all the men on the memorial. After many years' research, I produced a book A Village Goes to War, which details the lives of all of the men named on the memorial. Although space restrictions stopped me telling all of it, Neville's story is just one of those in the book. I am pleased that this can now be told in full via the Tattersfield Family Web Site.

Neville's Medals: the Victory Medal and the British War Medal

Figure 1: Neville's Medals: the Victory Medal and the British War Medal

Neville's story is one of the more detailed ones to emerge from my research into the War Memorial. There are two reasons for this: first of all, because he was an officer there are detailed records surviving at The National Archives in London. He was in fact the only officer named on the memorial. This in itself is remarkable, statistically, for on a memorial containing 114 names there should have been more than one officer. Secondly, I was able to make contact with Neville's nephew, Maurice Tattersfield, who provided reminiscences of his uncle. Sadly Maurice died in March 1998.

Neville Tattersfield was born on 7 April 1892 to Moses and Louisa Tattersfield. Neville was the youngest of seven sons (although three died in infancy) and lived with the family at 'West Royd', Brunswick Street, Dewsbury. After attending Heckmondwike Grammar School, he joined his eldest brother, John, working in the dyeing laboratory at Jas Smith and Sons in Ravensthorpe. Tragedy was to strike the family twice in quick succession; on 12 December 1914 Louisa died, and less than a year later in August 1915, Harold, Neville's brother also died.

The Great War began in August 1914, and there was an initial flood of volunteers  after all it was widely believed that the war would be over by Christmas. By spring 1915 the flow of recruits was dwindling; it had become clear that voluntary recruitment was not going to provide the numbers of men required. The government passed the National Registration Act on 15 July 1915 as an attempt at stimulating recruitment. The attempt was largely unsuccessful; however, it did result in Neville volunteering, although this may have been a reaction to the death of his older brother.

Early in the war it was decided to add motor machine gun batteries to the British Expeditionary Force. Many of this unit's recruits were volunteers, or specially enlisted by being known to be actively interested in motorcycles (such as motorcycle club members).

On 18 August 1915, at the age of 23, Neville joined the army as a gunner in the Motor Machine Gun Service; as he owned a motorcycle it is likely he was attracted to the idea of joining a part of the army where there was a use for his hobby. This is speculation on my behalf. Maurice Tattersfield, Neville's nephew, suggested in a letter, that working as a Laboratory assistant, Neville "hoped to get a nice cushy job with the medical corps". Perhaps this is true, but being a volunteer it is likely that had he wanted to join the Royal Army Medical Corps he may have had his wishes met.

The forms completed on his enlistment record his height as 5' 4½", with a maximum chest expansion of 35". He weighed just less than ten stones.

Neville (on left) with unknown passenger in the side-car

Figure 2: Neville (on left) with unknown passenger in the side-car

On 1 January 1916 he was posted to the 27th Battery of the M.M.G.S., but on 1 April was transferred to the Armoured Car Section. This Armoured Car Section seems not to have lasted a long time as within five weeks, on 4 May, he was posted to the Heavy Section, Machine Gun Corps; this was the name under which what was to become the Tank Corps first operated. Neville therefore found himself at the cutting edge of the new military technology of the day: Tanks!

On 6 June Neville attended a Tank course and on 21 July went on a course to Whale Island at Portsmouth in order to learn how to use the six-pounder guns that armed some of the tanks. Neville was sent to France with the first draft of officers and men on 16 August 1916, arriving at Le Havre on 17 August; the first of the tanks arrived on 21 August.

Training was undertaken in France for several weeks: two companies of the Heavy Section, Machine Gun Corps were being trained for the very first tank action, which was to take place on 15 September 1916, during the Battle of the Somme. Unfortunately the War Diary of Neville's unit, 'C' Company, is less detailed than the other tank unit that was involved ('D' Company), and it is therefore not possible to say with any certainty which tank Neville was with on 15 September. A letter from Neville published in the Dewsbury Reporter on 7 October describes how he had only "one wash in a week and not even a shave..."; he goes on, "...our 'bus' has been stuck; unfortunately our steering was wrong before we went into action but we went in and returned safely."

Number 2300, Gunner Neville Tattersfield, Motor Machine Gun Service

Figure 3: Number 2300, Gunner Neville Tattersfield, Motor Machine Gun Service

Of all the tanks in 'C' Company that Neville could have been in, it is the tank of Second Lieutenant Ambrose that is the most likely candidate. This tank broke down on the start line with tail problems and engine trouble; however, it seems that repairs were carried out and the tank resumed its journey only to break down again. It is of course possible that Neville was in another tank of 'C' Company, but we cannot now be totally sure of Neville's exact involvement.

Watercolour painting by Jean Berne-Bellecour: Sir John Dashwood's tank C13 lying in Angle Wood Valley

Figure 4: A watercolour painting by Jean Berne-Bellecour (1874-1939) courtesy of the David Cohen Fine Art Collection: Sir John Dashwood s tank C13 lying in Angle Wood Valley. The painting represents one of the tanks that went into action on 15 September 1916. Although not the tank in which Neville went into action, it illustrates the conditions under which he fought. Whatever his exact involvement, it is without doubt that Neville has a place in history due to being involved with the first ever usage of tanks in action.

Page 1 of Neville's poemPage 2 of Neville's poemPage 3 of Neville's poemPage 4 of Neville's poem

Figure 5: A poem, written by Neville. Was the 'broken down individual' Neville, as he saw himself in forty years' time?
Please click here to see a full transcript of the poem.

Tanks were used again the following day, on 16 September and again at the end of the month. Some other operations were carried out in October but it is their use on 15 September that will be remembered.

Side 1 of Neville's cardSide 2 of Neville's card

Figure 6: Cards such as these were often embroidered by injured soldiers whilst they were in hospital. There is no evidence that Neville was in hospital in 1916, so it is likely that this was purchased as a gift for his nephew, Maurice.

After taking part in the operations on the Somme, Neville was granted leave in England in April 1917. Returning to his unit on Good Friday (6 April), he was immediately returned to England as his application for a commission had been accepted. Within days of returning home, he was to lose his father who died on 19 April.

Neville was ordered to join the Machine Gun Corps, Officer Cadet Battalion, at Grantham on 4 May; this was the Cadet School Preliminary. From 2 July until October he attended the Pirbright Cadet School, being appointed a temporary commission for the duration of the war on 4 November 1917. In December 1917 he was sent on a further course at Wareham. It was not until 13 March 1918 that he returned to France, arriving in Boulogne. He was posted to the 2nd Battalion, Tank Corps, and joined his unit on 21 March 1918, which turned out to be one of the most important days in the First World War.

It had been nearly a year since Neville was last in France. During that time, the course of the war had changed. Due to being posted home in early April 1917, Neville had fortunately just missed out in the Battle of Arras. Later that year saw the Third Battle of Ypres (commonly known as the Battle of Passchendaele) and the Battle of Cambrai. It is more than likely Neville's good fortune at missing these battles may in part be put down to political interference: Lloyd George, concerned at the losses amongst the British Army, by the end of 1917 wanted to try to stop what he saw as the needless slaughter on the Western Front. Not having the political will to dismiss the Commander in Chief, Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haig, instead he deliberately kept the BEF short of troops. This, amongst other factors led to the Germans launching a highly successful offensive on 21 March 1918.

Although the details of his actual involvement are not known, it seems that Neville may have been involved in the counter-attack by the 2nd Battalion of the Tank Corps against this German offensive. This small counter attack took place at Beugny, a village four miles east of Bapaume on 22 March. This counter-attack came at a crucial stage in the attempt to stem the German tide; it was made without infantry support and with minimal assistance from the artillery. Although many casualties were incurred in the 2nd Battalion, Neville came through this unscathed. The counter-attack was successful as it stopped the German advance here for twenty-four hours.

The German offensive was stopped, and by the summer of 1918 the Allies, led by the British, were ready to attack the Germans. The opening day of the next phase of the war was scheduled to be 8 August  this would become known as the Battle of Amiens. This was the start of the campaign known as 'The Hundred Days' which would end with the Armistice on 11 November.

On the evening of 4 August the three companies (each comprising twelve tanks) of Neville's 2nd Battalion set off from Querrieu on the Amiens to Albert road in order to get to the assembly position at Fouilloy. The roads were packed with heavy artillery, ammunition lorries, battalions of infantry and numerous other units needed to support a major offensive; as a result the tanks were able to make only slow progress. At a point approximately mid-way between Querrieu and Fouilloy is the village of Daours. This proved to be a severe bottleneck and the tanks had great difficulty in negotiating the two bridges and two right-angled corners. Despite these difficulties, the tanks were successfully hidden before daybreak on the 5 August, and remained out of sight from German aerial observation until the evening of the 7 August. At midnight on 7/8 August they completed the penultimate leg of their journeys and switched off their engines near Villers-Bretonneux.

One hour before 'Zero' the tanks of 'B' and 'C' Companies moved the last ¾ mile to a point in front of the waiting infantry.

'B' Company was to lead the 5th Australian Brigade and 'C' Company was to lead the 7th Australian Brigade; both of these infantry brigades being part of the 2nd Australian Division. The objectives of the Australians were the villages of Warfusse and the ground to the south of the village, and the village of Bayonvillers. 'A' Company, meanwhile, moved into position. They were to lead the 5th Australian Division on to the second phase objective of Harbonnieres. It was planned that the tanks would rally at Harbonnieres. In the event only five of the 48 tanks reached the village.

The successful attack of the 8 August was not as a result solely of the Tank Corps' part in the action, nor of any other single factor. Each part of the army (and R.A.F.) contributed to the most successful day of the war so far for the British: it was the successful integration of all arms that ensured the victory. Nearly 400 guns were captured from the German artillery in this advance together with 18,500 prisoners. In addition the Germans lost 9,000 men killed or wounded. The Allied losses (killed and wounded) were also in the region of 9,000 men. The German high command described 8 August as "The Black Day of the German Army."

We do not know if Second Lieutenant Neville Tattersfield took part in the first day of the battle, but we are certain of his involvement on the second day.

Notwithstanding the arrival of German reinforcements and the exhaustion of the Allied troops the attack was resumed on 9 August. Despite having advanced beyond the range of the artillery and without telephone links to headquarters in the rear, there was still an average advance of three miles. This was with only about half the number of tanks that had been available on the first day.

On 9 August, the 2nd Battalion Tank Corps - which was down to about seventeen tanks - mustered south of Bayonvillers. At 1pm the battalion moved off in support of the attack by the 2nd Australian Division. Despite the German infantry surrendering in large numbers, there was a great deal of hostile shell-fire which hit three tanks as they approached the railway station at Rosières. Further artillery fire was directed from German batteries on high ground at Lihons which knocked out a further five tanks.

The tanks were unable to advance in the face of this hostile shelling; the infantry, too, were held up. Eventually Australian artillery was brought up and managed to silence one of the German batteries, allowing the objectives to be reached. The remaining tanks withdrew. It was during the course of this day's fighting that Neville was injured.

A brief report in the Dewsbury Reporter stated that Neville had been wounded when a shell burst near him when he was attempting to unditch his tank whilst under heavy machine gun and shell-fire. Maurice - Neville's nephew - stated that Neville "could have been killed but for a spirit flask, which my mother gave him, stopped one of the bullets". His sergeant and two gunners were, according to the report, wounded at the same time. His medical records indicate that he incurred gun-shot wounds in a buttock and upper left arm.

Neville was taken first of all to the 15th Australian Field Ambulance, from where he was sent the following day (10 August) to the 20th General Hospital, where he was operated on for the removal of shrapnel. Eleven days later, on 21 August, Neville was evacuated to England to recuperate.

Neville during his convalescence in 1918

Figure 7: Neville is on the right of the group. This was probably taken in the late summer of 1918 whilst Neville was recovering from his injuries sustained on 9 August.

Following his injuries at the Battle of Amiens in August 1918 and his subsequent convalescence, Neville stopped with his brother, John, and his sister-in-law, with their 8 year old son, Maurice, at 64 North Road, Ravensthorpe in order to complete his recovery. It was probably about this time that John borrowed Neville's 'Wolf' motorbike and crashed it coming down the steep Shillbank Lane in Mirfield; Neville, it seems was none too pleased.

Although engaged to a local girl called Elsie Fawcett, Neville, upon recovering from his injuries, decided to visit a cousin (another girlfriend according to Maurice!) in Scotland. Neville, at this time had a heavy cold, and his sister-in-law tried to dissuade him from making the journey. Against this advice Neville went up to Scotland. Upon returning home his cold was much worse but he was now due to return to the Tank Corps depot in Dorset. He insisted on making the journey, and reported to Swanage on 3 November. Within a week he had contracted influenza.

In 1918 a much greater threat to the worldwide population than the Great War occurred, when the Spanish 'flu epidemic broke out. This was to sweep round the world from 1918 to 1919 killing many times more people than had been killed in the conflict; estimates range from 21 to 40 million people worldwide succumbing to the illness. Many of these deaths were of soldiers who had survived the war and, weakened by their injuries, were more vulnerable to the effects of the disease. Neville was admitted to a military hospital in Wareham on Monday 11 November, ironically the day the Armistice was signed. His brothers John and Clifford went down to Wareham to visit him on Saturday 16 November, after which they returned home.

A telegram was received in Ravensthorpe on Monday 18 November to say Neville's condition had deteriorated and so they set about the long journey back to Wareham.

Neville died aged 26, on Wednesday 20 November, with his brothers present. He was buried two days later in the churchyard at Wareham Parish Church. Wareham Cemetery contains 49 First World War burials, including  just behind Neville's grave  a number of Australian soldiers.

Neville's obituary in the Dewsbury Reporter

Figure 8: Neville's obituary, taken from the Dewsbury Reporter

Post Script

For many years, the original headstone, erected by the family, stood on Neville's grave. Unfortunately, by the 1990's the inscription was all but unreadable. Whilst military graves in France and Flanders are cared for by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, there is less certainty about the care of these graves in the UK. Concerned that the gravestone would one day be lost forever, I contacted the Commonwealth War Graves Commission who agreed to replace Neville's headstone with a standard pattern one. This has ensured that in accordance with the Commission's mandate, Neville's grave will be cared for "in perpetuity".

Neville's original gravestoneNeville's later gravestone, provided by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Links to spreadsheets of other WWI fatalities

For further information, please follow the two links shown below:

Commonwealth War Graves Commision : Wareham Cemetary Photographs

Commonwealth War Graves Commision : Debt of Honour Register