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Postcards from the past

Updated: Nov 29, 2023

One day while rooting through some old postcards at an antiques fair I came across this smiling face.

Wilfred Tebbett RAMC soldier

Turning the card over I found my wish had been granted on the back was written Wilfred Tebbett. Aged 19 1/2 years in London. I put the card to one side and kept looking. A card a bit further on had a group of Royal Army Medical Corps men. I almost put it to one side and then I saw a familiar face - Mr Tebbett grinning out at me. Paying more attention now I went through the rest of the Military cards and found 3 more postcards with Wilfred Tebbett on. Another card had some additional information Wilfred Tebbett in London. Aged 19 1/2 years. 1915. King George's Hospital, Stamford Street.

Wilfred's cap badge and shoulder title shows that he was in the Royal Army Medical Corps. The stripes show he was a Corporal.

Wilfred Tebbett Full length

A quick search of Ancestry for Wilfred Tebbett (and similar sounding surnames) comes up with six possible Medal Index Cards but only one is in the RAMC - a corporal with the service number of 29867. The card shows he only has an entitlement to the British War Medal. This is unusual. The medal roll confims that he is entitled only to the British War medal as the words 'and Victory Medal' have been crossed out at the top of the roll. Most of the time the British War medal and the Victory medal were issued as a pair. The fact that Wilfred Tebbett was only entitled to the British War Medal shows that he probably never served overseas. There is no service record for him on Ancestry which is a shame.

Who was he though? Where was he from?

There are 2 likely candidates on the 1911 census: one Wilfred Tebbett born in Langley Mill, Derbyshire and living in Mansfield and Wilfred Tebbet born in and still living in Hopwas, Staffs. It would be easy to assume that the Derbyshire man is the one that I want but I am reluctant to make an assumption.

There were no further clues on ancestry to separate out the two. I turned to an old friend: the British Newspaper Archive. Old newspapers can often be useful either with a news story or a family notice. In this case there was only one story that came up when I searched for Wilfred Tebbett. I had my fingers crossed as I opened up the document. The paper was in the Tamworth Herald, 19 March 1938 and reported on the death of Eli Tebbett of Hopwas and the key paragraph was:

Newspaper extract

This shows that the Wilfred Tebbett from Hopwas won the Military Medal. The Wilfred Tebbett in my photographs didn't serve overseas and therefore would not have been awarded the MM. Therefore I can proceed with researching the WIlfred Tebbett from Derbyshire:

So on 1911 census Wilfred is living with his parents Joseph and Ada and 4 of his eight siblings at No 1, Second Avenue, Forest Town, Mansfield. His occupation (he was 16) is given as Coal Miner Hewer, the same as his father.

Forest Town was a mining , which has since been swallowed up by Mansfield and The Avenues was the high-density housing built as homes for the workers from the nearby Crown Farm Colliery.

Below is the view of Second Avenue as it is today on Street There are pictures of The Avenues in Wilfred's day online.

Second street - a street of houses

What about the hospital he worked at: King George's Hospital , Stamford Street, London. A quick google brought me this picture of one of the wards. King George Military Hospital in Stamford Street occupied one of the buildings of the 'new' HM Stationery Office, built to replace the existing facilities in Princes Street, Westminster, and which had just been completed, but not occupied by autumn 1914. At the outbreak of war, the War Office requisitioned the larger of the two buildings, the warehouse in Stamford Street, the other being office accommodation in Waterloo Road. The Times immediately started a fund to raise money by subscription, which was very successful, and the hospital opened on 26th May 1915 - it was intended to have 1,650 beds, but this number eventually rose to in excess of 2,000.

Postcard of men in uniform

For more details on the hospital including modern pictures visit What must that building have been like to a 19yr old miner from Mansfield? Must have been very exciting.

Wilfred smiling away - standing second on the right.

Group of men in uniform

Wilfred still smiling - front row, far right.

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