Born on 5th July 1885 in Birmingham, Thomas George Turrall was educated at the Dixon Road School in Small Heath, Birmingham. He trained to be a painter and decorator but in 1915 he joined the 10th Battalion, The Worcestershire Regiment.
Thomas Turrall was a powerfully built man who was known throughout the Battalion as being a character. In fact prior to the battle where he won his Victoria Cross, his platoon commander, Lieutenant Richard William Jennings, decided to release him earlier from the Battalion Guardroom were he was serving a short sentence. The two men were known to have a mutual respect for one another.
In early July 1916, the Battalion were part of the 19th (Western) Division on the Somme. During the night of the 2nd/3rd July, 57 Brigade which included the 10th Battalion were ordered to continue an attack started that afternoon by 58 Brigade. At 0300 hrs the Battalion crossed no-man’s land taking many casualties and then became involved in heavy hand to hand fighting which lasted until dawn. Lieutenant Jennings then led a small party of men, which included Private Turrall to attack a position to the flank. It was during this action that Private Thomas Turrall won his Victoria Cross.
His Citation reads
“For most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty. During a bombing attack by a small party against the enemy the officer in charge was badly wounded, and the party having penetrated the position to a great depth was compelled eventually to retire.
Private Turrall remained with the wounded officer for three hours under continuous and very heavy fire from machine guns and bombs, and, not withstanding that both himself and the officer were at one time completely cut off from our troops, he held to his ground with determination, and finally carried the officer to our lines after our counter attacks had made this possible.”
London Gazette, September 9th 1916
Lieutenant Jennings was able to recount Private Turrall’s action but then died of his wounds a few hours later.
Private Turrall, the third person from Birmingham to receive the Victoria Cross was congratulated by the then Lord Mayor, Neville Chamberlain. The people of Small Heath where he lived presented him with a gold watch and £250. He collected his Victoria Cross with his young daughter from Buckingham Palace. He kept in close contact with the Regiment after the war, attending many Regimental functions as the guest of honour. He died on 21st February 1964 in Selly Oak Hospital, Birmingham, at the age of 78.