Researched and written by Anne Wright
Pte W P A Tilbury
1/6th Battalion, East Surrey Regiment
William Penton Arnold Tilbury had served in the army for 3 years and 27 days by the time of his death so cruelly close to the end of the war. He was the only son of William Henry and Eliza (nee Arnold) of 4, Oxford Villas, New Road, Weybridge. They had married at St James’ Church in the town on 21 November 1891; William was a native of Hampshire and Eliza of Norfolk, they were born respectively in about 1867 and 1869. William was a gardener and Eliza had gone into service at the age of 12. They also had three daughters: Lilian May, born on 17 May 1892, Sylvia Margaret, born on 20 August 1894 and Violet Marion, born on 30 August 1900. William was born on 6 May 1896 and like his sisters was baptised at St James’ Church, in his case on 9 August 1896. The family home was still in New Road in 1911, but of the children, only Violet and William, now an errand boy and formerly a pupil of St James’ School (Baker Street), were still there. Ironically, in 1901 the household had included a German lodger, Emil Jiverschkie, a baker’s foreman.
William enlisted at Kingston-on-Thames on 7 October 1915; he was 19 years old, stood five feet and ten inches tall and was a shop assistant. He was initially posted to the 3/6th Battalion, East Surrey Regiment (3484) but subsequently moved to the 1/6th Battalion which he joined on 2 May 1916 in Rawalapindi, India where they were engaged in garrison duties. William’s new battalion had already been in the sub-Continent for eighteen months and since October 1915 had been part of the Jhelum Brigade of the 2nd Rawalapindi Division, a regular army unit of the British Indian Army. They were posted to Aden at the beginning of 1917, arriving there on 7 February. This posting would not have been greeted with enthusiasm; Aden presented such a difficult environment that tours of duty were restricted to one year. It was of immense strategic importance to British communications lying as it did on the route to India. William’s battalion would have been involved in fighting Turkish guerrillas from Yemen. He was awarded his First Good Conduct Badge on 7 October 1917.
They returned to India, disembarking from H.T.Aronda at Bombay, on 15 January 1918. The 1/6th East Surreys then joined the Dehra Dun Brigade of the 7th (Meerut) Division and moved to the Punjab, close to the NW Frontier. He was admitted to OC Station Hospital in Agra on 22 October, as was William James Carpenter, another Weybridge lad, both were suffering from influenza. Pte Carpenter died in 31 October and William Tilbury a day later. He was buried at Agra Cantonment Cemetery (S.38) on 2 November and commemorated on the Madras 1914-18 War Memorial (Face 15) in Chennai.
William’s parents remained in their Weybridge home until their deaths, his father in 1924 and his mother in 1956. His sisters Lilian and Sylvia did not marry and lived in Surrey until their deaths respectively in 1974 and 1956. His youngest sister, Violet continued the family connection with St James’ Church when she married Peter John Wooders there in September 1928. She died in Kent in 1992.
The British Army in the Great War of 1914-1918, The Long, Long Trail – East Surrey Regiment, www.longlongtrail.co.uk
Memorial to the Masters and Old Boys of St James’ School, Weybridge, Who Fell in the Great War 1914-1918, St James’ Church
Surrey, England, Church of England Baptisms, 1813-1912, www.ancestry.co.uk
Surrey, England, Church of England Marriages, 1754-1837, www.ancestry.co.uk
Surrey, England, Electoral Registers, 1832-1962, www.ancestry.co.uk
Voller of Heath End Family Tree, www.ancestry.co.uk