Thomas Hendra

Surrey in the Great War                                                                                                                                                  Jenny Mukerji

Thomas HENDRA (1889-1972)

Soldier and Woking Photographer

Thomas was born in Truro, Cornwall on 4 November 1889, the son of Henry HENDRA (1863-1894) and his wife Elizabeth, nee CLEMENS. He was the youngest of their four children. Henry HENDRA was a watchmaker and jeweller and after his death, aged 31, his widow married Philip Henry TONKIN in 1899. Philip TONKIN was a game dealer and seed merchant and he helped Elizabeth to raise her four sons at their home in Union Place, Truro.

Thomas’s disembarkation papers dated 20 November 1910 when he arrived at Ellis Island (United States) off the SS Carmania (out of Liverpool), tells us quite a number of things about him. He was 20 years old and a store man. He could read and write and was English speaking. His contact in England was his mother Mrs P H TONKIN of 11 Truro View Terrace, Truro. He was 5ft 8 inches tall and of a fresh complexion, dark hair and brown eyes. In 1908 he had visited the US before, this time going to Baltimore. In 1910 he was to visit a friend Miss E ELLERY* of 320 19th, Sacramento, California. However, giving his occupation as store man, he was wealthy enough to buy his own ticket and to hold the required $50 (to cover any costs so that he would not be a burden on the State).

Henry does not appear to have returned to England in time to be included in the 1911 Census but the next time he is found is when he enlisted in the 7th Battalion, Somerset Light Infantry (Prince Albert’s) on 18 November 1914. This was a battalion of volunteers in the Second (Kitchener’s) New Army and had been formed in Taunton on 13 September 1914. They then moved to Woking as part of the 61st Brigade of the 20th Division. They then moved to Witley, near Godalming. In March 1915 they moved to Amesbury and then to Larkhill, near Salisbury. Henry was definitely with them when they were mobilised for war and landed at Boulogne on 24 July 1915. The battalion was given trench familiarization and training in the Fleurbaix area before engaging with the enemy at the Battle of Sorrel (Hill 62) at the beginning of June. Henry may have been with the battalion at the start of the Battle of the Somme (1 July 1916), fighting in the area of Delville Wood. As he was discharged from the Army and awarded his Silver War Badge on 7 September 1916 due to sickness, the extent of his participation in the battalion’s later action is not clear; nor is it known why he should be considered unfit for further military service.

It may have been during his original time in Woking in 1914 or as a possible patient in a Woking Military Hospital, that he met the Woking photographer Marguerite REED (1884-1969). She was, as Margaret Emma REED, the youngest of the three daughters of postal worker Thomas REED (1855-1924) and his wife Elizabeth, nee WILSON (c1856-1929) of Stone House, 2 Sandy Lane, Maybury, Woking. Marguerite had taken over the Studio, formerly run by Alfred WILDMAN (1867-1916) at 88 Maybury Road, Woking in April 1917. On Saturday 2 June 1917 Thomas and Marguerite were married at the Guildford Registry Office. Their professions were given as Army Pensioner and Photographer respectively. Both gave their age as 28.

Marguerite had left the 88 Maybury Road studio by 1924 when Sidney FRANCIS took it over. The 1939 Register lists Thomas and Marguerite living at Stone House and both of them are photographers. Thomas was also an ARP Warden. Marguerite continued her business at Stone House and died in 1969. Thomas was still at Stone House when he died on 9 March 1972.

* Further research has uncovered the ELLERY family with whom Thomas planned to stay. William ELLERY (1848-1936) was a ship’s carpenter in 1871 and he was the son of James ELLERY. He married Mary Jane LLOYD, daughter of John LLOYD of Birmingham in May 1880 in England. William had already been to the United States in 1878 and in all the couple had five children of whom only 2 were still alive in 1910. They were 28 years-old Mary Elsie Ellery (born in England) and 14 years-old Lloyd (born in California – in 1930 he was an accountant at the Customs House). The two Marys had arrived in the US in 1884. William, his wife Mary and daughter Mary had all become Americans in 1888. In 1910 William and his family were living at 320 Sacramento, California and he was now a house carpenter, owning his own home. In 1930 William, Mary and Lloyd were living in Oakland City, Alameda County, California. William and Mary Jane ELLERY are buried together in Sacramento. Children Winifred and Cyril are in the same plot. Winifred Selwyn ELLERY was born in Truro in 1881 and died 13 July 1885. Cyril William, born 1887 and died on 26 January 1891.

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One Response to “Thomas Hendra”

  1. Roger Tonkin

    I am the grandson of P,H,Tonkin. My great Grandfather John Tonkin married Elizabeth Ellery and they lived in Union Place after P.H. moved to Truro vean. I do remember meeting Harry Hendra when he came to visit P.H and his son John who served in the R.A.F in WW2.

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