Ernest Teanby


This post was written by Victoria Doran.

Ernest Teanby was a young private in the King’s Shropshire Light Infantry who died during the Ottoman retreat to Jerusalem in Palestine.

Eccelston War Memorial.jpeg

WW1 Roll of Honour at St Mary, Eccleston, Cheshire

According to one source this unusual surname originates in Tenby, Pembrokeshire, Wales. However at the 1891 census virtually all people with this surname lived in Lincolnshire and Yorkshire, and none at all in Wales. It seems more likely to be a lost village of Viking origin somewhere in the area of the old Danegeld.

Ernest Teanby was born in the autumn of 1897 in Eccleston, Cheshire where his father, William Teanby (1869-1937) was a police constable in the Cheshire County Constabulary. Eccleston is the village next to Eaton Hall, the home of the Duke of Westminster. He was the second son in the family of 3 sons and 3 daughters of William and Sarah Ann Blagrove (1873-1957). Ernest was baptised on 5 December 1897 at St Mary, Eccleston.

William Teanby was born in Alkborough, Lincolnshire, which is on the north (river) coast of the county, the youngest of 12 children. His father John Teanby (1824-1900) was a carpenter / joiner who sometimes worked as a ship’s carpenter and sometimes on land based jobs. During the 1880s the family moved to Bradford, Yorkshire. William was set to work very young as in 1881, aged 12 he was ‘living in’ as a milk dealer’s assistant at Calverley, 3 miles north of Bradford. A tall lad at 5 ft 10 in, he enlisted in the Grenadier Guards still aged 17 on 15 September 1886. He served some time overseas, in Bermuda, but does not seem to have ever seen action.

William Teanby & Sarah Ann Blagrove marriage.jpeg

When he married Sarah Ann Blagrove at Trinity Church, Chelsea she claimed to have a father called William. However that was for form’s sake as she was actually one of 2 illegitimate daughters of Emma Blagrove (1837-1905). Emma, the daughter of an agricultural labourer in Harwell, Berkshire, worked on the land. She had a difficult life, being charged with ‘attempt to drown with intent to murder’ in 1863. The charge was dropped at the Assizes. She was 35 when Sarah Ann was born, and 37 when her younger daughter came along. She ended her days in the Union Workhouse. Quite possibly William knew nothing of Sarah Ann’s mother, as Sarah Ann was working as a servant in a boarding house in London when he met her.

It is not known what year the Teanby family moved to West Kirby. On 13 January 1915, when Ernest’s older brother William (1894-1957) enlisted in the Manchester Regiment, he gave his father’s address as Eccleston. When he was demobbed in April 1919, he gave the address as 3 Orrysdale Road, West Kirby. So the family moved during the war, presumably as William Teanby senior was moved by the Cheshire Constabulary. It is quite possible that Ernest never lived in or even visited West Kirby during his life. The Teanby family moved into the house vacated by William Webster and family sometime before he died in July 1916.

It is not known when Ernest joined the army. He would have reached the age of 18 in the autumn of 1915, so that is the most likely date. He joined the Cheshire Yeomanry as Private 939.

Cheshire Yeomanry cap badge.jpeg

Cheshire Yeomanry cap badge

From November 1915 this became a dismounted unit, so was in practice an Infantry Regiment. The Cheshire Yeomanry served at Gallipoli, and Ernest presumably joined it as a replacement. By 2 March 1917 they were in Egypt. At this time there were many dismounted understrength Yeomanry regiments and battalions, so a process of consolidation took place. The Cheshire Yeomanry was amalgamated with the Shropshire Yeomanry to form the 10th (Shropshire & Cheshire) Battalion of the King’s Shropshire Light Infantry (KSLI).

KSLI cap badge .jpeg

King’s Shropshire Light Infantry cap badge

Shortly afterwards the battalion became part of the 231st Brigade of the 74th (Broken Spur) Division. The Division was so named as it consisted entirely of battalions from 18 former Yeomanry regiments, all of whom had fought dismounted at Gallipoli. It had no artillery attached to it for many months.

Broken Spur 74th Div insignia.jpeg

‘Broken Spur’ Divisional insignia

This insignia was a cloth patch, probably stitched to the sleeve of the uniform.

The 10th KSLI moved to Palestine and was present at the 2nd Battle of Gaza on 17th to 19th April 1917, but they were held in reserve and took  no active part.

They did participate in the 3rd Battle of Gaza on the night of the 1/2 November, when the British forces successfully attacked the Gaza to Beersheba line of the Ottoman army. The Ottoman army then retreated slowly towards Jerusalem. The 10th KSLI took part in the Battle of Haeira & Sheria on the 6 / 7 November, when they attacked on the east of the battle line. Some ground was gained, but the Ottoman defences were strong. Sheria was one of the places that the Ottomans had fortified strongly.

Ernest died, aged 20, on 30 November 1917, probably from sniper fire, and was buried in Jerusalem Military Cemetery. At his father’s request the stone bears the words ‘PEACE PERFECT PEACE’.

E Teanby - grave marker.jpg

Ernest Teanby’s grave marker in Jerusalem Military Cemetery

He is also commemorated on Grange Hill War Memorial and at St Andrew Church, West Kirby. Not surprisingly he is also commemorated on the WW1 Roll of Honour in St Mary, Eccleston.

His brother William, an electrician, served throughout the war as a Sapper in the Signal Corps of the Royal Engineers. He was 5ft 11 in tall, so it is possible that Ernest was also a tall young man.

Birth: Oct 1897 at Eccleston, Cheshire
Death: 30 Nov 1917 in Palestine; lost his life
Addresses: Eccleston, Cheshire (01), (11), 3 Orrysdale Road, West Kirby (17)
Occupation: not known
Units: Cheshire Yeomanry; 10th Battalion (Shropshire & Cheshire Yeomanry) King’s Shropshire Light Infantry
Numbers and Rank: 939, 230686; Private
Medals: Victory, British War & Territorial Force War medals
Commemorated: Jerusalem Military Cemetery, Israel; Grange Hill War Memorial, West Kirby; St Andrew church, West Kirby; St Mary, Eccleston, Cheshire War Roll of Honour
Sources: CWGC, MC, Census: 01, 11, BR, WK, RSE, PR



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