Pioneer Henry Tingle, 274315, Royal Engineers, (Road Troops Depot, Aldershot)
Henry Tingle was born in Ripon in early 1872, the eldest child of gardener John Tingle and his wife, Eliza (nee Shaw), who married in the Wakefield area in Spring 1871. The couple had eight children from their marriage, but sadly three died before April 1911. John Tingle was born in Warmfield, near Wakefield and Eliza was born in Lockwood, Huddersfield.
Shortly after Henry Tingle's birth, John and Eliza moved from the Ripon area and by 1881, they had arrived in Crofton via Leeds and Horbury, having a child in each location along the way. In the late 1880s they moved again and by 1891 John Tingle, his wife Eliza, and their five children were living in Eastmoor, Wakefield. Henry Tingle was 19 years of age and working as a gardener like his father.
Henry Tingle, of Shaw’s Yard, Northgate, Wakefield married 20 year-old spinster, and only, child Mary Ellen Adams at St. John the Baptist Church, Wakefield on the 9th November 1895. By 1901 the couple had three children. Henry was now working as a brick burner and the family had moved to High Street, Royston, Barnsley.
By 1911, Henry and Mary Ellen Tingle had been married for more than 15 years and she had borne him eight children, but five of those children had died in infancy before April 1911. In 1911, Henry, Mary Ellen and two of their surviving children were living in a 'one-up and one-down' house at 4, Union Square, Thornes Lane, Wakefield. Their eldest child was 14 years-old and their youngest was aged 2. The third surviving child, Annie Tingle, was staying with her maternal grandparents. Henry was still only 39 years of age and was now working as a foundry labourer.
Henry Tingle had seen a lot of family tragedy by the time he was 40 years-old. He had lost three siblings and five children in their infancy. In Spring 1913, his wife Mary Ellen died, aged only 38 years. Henry was 42 years-old in August 1914 when war was declared on Germany. As such he was too old to be a special reservist or to join the regular army. He did however, somehow, manage to enlist. On the 3rd August 1915, Henry joined the Royal Engineers (Road Troops Depot) with the rank of Pioneer and service number 274315.
During WW1, to enter the Royal Engineers, men had to have a recognised trade and were given the rank of Sapper, along with an enhanced rate of pay. The shortage of skilled artisans immediately pre-war however, forced the introduction of unskilled men who were given the rank of Pioneer. The rank was abolished in 1919/20.
Much of the role of the Pioneer was undertaken as part of the 'fatigue' routine common to all British battalions. This meant that in addition to their fighting duties, squads of infantrymen were routinely set various tasks that included: trench digging; installation of barbed wire entanglements; moving of supplies and munitions and any other pioneer type duty that had to be carried out. Active recruitment of Pioneers began in the UK and by the end of 1915 over 20,000 Pioneers were on the Western Front in Labour Companies. Meanwhile, additional recruitment of Pioneers took place from the cadres of skilled and semi-skilled workers across the whole spectrum of British industry.
Henry Tingle was working as a foundry labourer and was precisely the sort of recruit sought by the army. He was discharged on the 5th March 1918 under Army Order 265 of 1917 para 2(d). Henry was now 45 years of age and, in recognition of his army service, he was awarded a Silver War Badge. In the normal course of events this was issued to men who had served and been wounded or suffered sickness during the Great War. However para 2(d) grounds for discharge also applied to soldiers who were over military age, and who were being discharged otherwise than for misconduct.
As often happened in these cases, Henry Tingle's army record showed that he left the army because he was overage, and not necessarily sick. However, he was recorded as receiving the badge by reason of sickness and under KR 392 para (xvi) as 'no longer fit for military service'. The records also show that he had served overseas and it may have been the case that he served with another regiment before his service with the Royal Engineers since his medal card with this regiment does not record an award of the British and Victory medals for which he qualified by serving overseas. Since he enlisted in August 1915, he may also have been entitled to the 1914/15 Star, if he served overseas prior to the 31st December 1915.
Henry Tingle, aged 47 years, of 24, Little Town End, Ossett, was buried at Ossett Holy Trinity Church on the 28th December 1920 and he is remembered on the Ossett War Memorial and also on the Ossett Holy Trinity Church Roll of Honour. This suggests that he died as a result of an injury, wounds or an illness resulting from his army service during WW1.
Henry’s surviving children were all daughters, and all of them appear to have married. Annie Tingle, aged 20, married Albert Rayner in the Wakefield area in Summer 1919 and they had two children: Ivy in early 1922 and Albert in Spring 1923. Clara Tingle, aged 37, married Gilbert Whiteley in the Wakefield area in Spring 1933. Faith May Tingle, aged 31, married Fred Day in the Sheffield area in Summer 1931 and in 1937 they had one child, Alfred.
Pioneer Henry Tingle, aged 47 years, died in late December 1920. He was buried on the 28th December 1920 at the Ossett Holy Trinity Church, Church Street, Ossett.