Albury Charles Turner was born on the 24th August 1884 in Coventry, Warwickshire. Albury was presumed dead on the 30th of June 1916 in the Battle of Boar’s Head in France at the age of 32. Albury was with the 13th Royal Sussex Regiment, his rank was Private and his service number was SD/2804.
Albury was the grandson of Josiah Turner (b 1826 in Southwark – d 17 June 1886 in Coventry leaving an estate of £190 15s 0d) and Sarah Ann Lister Lee (b 28 January 1829 in Leeds, Yorkshire d 11 October 1893 at Binley, Coventry, leaving an estate of £184 15s 5d). Josiah and Sarah married in South Australia on 6 March 1851.
Josiah was a manufacturer of sewing machines, an inventor and entrepreneur. He held several patents for the improvement of mechanisms of sewing machines and bicycles. Albury’s father, Charles Thomas Turner, was the eldest of Josiah’s four surviving children and he was born in Kensington (South Australia) in on 3 December 1851 and died in Coventry on 8 March 1908, leaving an estate of £1654 6s 6d.
In Brighton, between April and June 1880, Charles Turner married Albury’s mother, Maria Georgina Bagg (born 20 September 1851 in Bloomsbury, London, died 4 March 1929 in Hove, leaving an estate of £5622 11s 1d).
Albury’s maternal grandfather, William George Thomas Bagg (b 1804 d 20 December 1869 leaving an estate of between £1000 and £2000), was described as an “artist” on Maria’s baptismal certificate, but he was also a talented engraver and his work was sought after for the production of plates for books on anatomy and botany. He is mentioned in a letter from Charles Darwin to his publisher, John Murray in 1861.
Charles and Maria lived in Coventry where Charles eventually became a director of J and J Cash Ltd (described in the 1891 census as a frilling manufacturer making ribbons, tapes and woven pictures. They had eight children: Jessie Vaughan (b 1881), Horace Lister (b 1882), Albury Charles (b 1884), Leonard Frederick (b 1885), Kathleen Ada (b 1886), twins Stanley Josiah and Elsie Maria Georgina (b 1890) and Dorothy Dale (b 1893).
After Charles’s death in 1908 Maria returned to Brighton, perhaps to be near her widowed sister, Selina Morris, and some of her children came with her. In the 1911 census Maria, Leonard, Kathleen, Elsie and Dorothy are all living at 7 Sudeley Terrace. By the time Albury is killed the family has moved to 9 Hove Park Villas.
Albury’s eldest sister, Jessie, had married Harry Nichols, a railway clerk, in 1903 and was living in Birmingham. Horace went to South Norwalk, Connecticut, USA, and lived there for several years. In the USA census of 1910 there is a Horace Turner living in South Norwalk, Ct, and working as a book-keeper in a lace shop and the census states that he has been resident since 1903. The Ellis Island records show that Horace Lister Turner was certainly in America from 1908 until 1911 and his destination in these records is South Norwalk. Albury remained in Coventry and worked as a surveyor, a profession also followed by his mother’s brother, another William Bagg. Stanley emigrated to Australia but came back with the ANZAC forces and in 1917 he married a girl in Coventry, which is where he spent the rest of his life.
Leonard, Kathleen and Elsie all remained in Brighton. They did not marry and continued to live together. When Kathleen died in 1974 she was still living at 101 Edburton Avenue which had been the family home for at least forty years. Dorothy also stayed in Brighton and married John W. Collinge in 1917. In 1920 she had a son whom she christened Albury and who went to Canada in 1951. She had a second son, Charles, in 1927.
Albury enlisted in Brighton into the 13th Battalion, Royal Sussex Regiment. The battalion crossed to Le Havre from Southampton on 5/6 March 1916. Albury’s regimental number is consecutive to that of Clement Trill (SD 2803 – another Brighton man, who was wounded at the Battle of Boar’s Head and died the following day of his wounds).
It is presumed that Albury was killed during the fighting at Boar’s Head. The war diary for the battalion merely notes that casualties were “very heavy” and no estimate is given of how many men were killed or injured. However, it was later reckoned that 360 men died and over 1100 were injured or missing hence “The Day Sussex Died”.
In essence, the bombardment, which had been arranged to quell the Germans and drive them from their trenches, failed and the smoke from the bombardment drifted into the attackers, so men lost their sense of direction. Some ended up advancing at an angle across No Man’s Land, exposing their vulnerable flanks to the Germans. Many were mowed down in waves. A ditch existed in front of the British trenches, and carrying parties with small bridges had gone forward to assist in the crossing of it. These men had been amongst the first to fall and very few of the bridges were in place. Most had to scramble in and out of the ditch, as machine-gun fire swept the area. When they reached the German front line most of the wire was intact, and very few of the 13th ever made it into the German trenches. By the close of operations very few survivors had made their way back to the British frontline.
Albury’s date of death was presumed 30 June 1916 – Battle of Boar’s Head.
His body was exhumed from a large trench grave marked with a cross and a German cross. The grave contained 84 unidentified British soldiers and 7 unidentified British officers. The Graves Registration Unit then identified some of the men in the grave by their dog tags, their uniform, their badges of rank or their personal effects. Albury Turner was identified by his clothing and his identity disc.
25 July 1923 he is recorded as having been reburied at Cabaret-Rouge British Cemetery, Souchez. His headstone carries a cross, his name, age, date of death and regimental badge.
Probate was granted to his mother in May 1917 and his total effects amounted to £114 2s 11d
He is commemorated in the City of Coventry Roll of the Fallen: the Great War 1914-1918, also in the Hove Library War Memorial.