© Helvellyn Consulting 2021
Guardsman Thomas (Tommy) Henry Murray
3rd. Battalion, Grenadier Guards
Born 31st may 1917 in Glenridding.
Died 5th October 1944 in the Apennine Mountains, Italy (Age 27)
Son of Alexander and Jane (nee Robison) Murray
Husband of Dorothy May Vines
Father of Jean Murray (born 1942)
Thomas Henry Murray was born on the 31st May 1917 in Glenridding and baptised 6 weeks later on the 15th July at the Wesleyan Chapel in Patterdale. Thomas was the youngest of eight children born to Alexander and Jane Murray (nee Robison). We don’t know any details about his childhood although one of his nephews, Alexander, kindly shared some stories with us, including the fact that Tommy kept a pet red squirrel as a child and that he and he brothers would run up Keldas in 20 minutes from their house in Low Glenridding -
Around May 1941, Thomas married Dorothy May Vines. in the South Westmorland District and on the 2nd February 1942 had their only child, a daughter named Jean, who was baptised on the 22nd March 1942 at St Patrick's Church (the baptism register records their address as 3, Low Glenridding and Thomas's occupation as a soldier).
In November 1942, the 3rd Battalion, still in the 1st Guards Brigade but by now transferred to the 78th Infantry Division, were sent to Tunisia to take part in the invasion of North Africa. By February 1943, the Battalion had transferred to the 6th Armoured Division.
Following the surrender of all Axis forces in North Africa the 6th Armoured Division were sent to Italy in March 1944, where Thomas would have seen action at Cassino and then Operation Olive in August and September 1944 when the Germans were in retreat into the high Apennine Mountains. Many small actions followed, with several casualties recorded in the early days of October, so it is likely that Thomas was killed during one of these actions. His obituary, published in the Cumberland and Westmorland Herald on the 28th October 1944, describes Thomas as an accomplished angler and an outstanding player in the Ullswater United football team. It also notes that two of his brothers were serving in the forces in France and Italy but doesn't name them, although we believe that it would have been Joseph and John. Tommy’s nephew Alexander kindly shared a very poignant story about his father John and Uncle.
“My Dad had joined the Merchant Navy at 14 and served in it during WWII, on the Atlantic convoys, Russian convoys and in the Mediterranean. What is a very emotional point for me regarding my Dad and Uncle Tom is the following. My Dad's ship docked in Italy and he managed to find out where Tom's battalion was fighting. He was told that the battalion was being withdrawn in a few hours and if he waited he could see him. He waited as instructed but hours later was informed that the German forces had broken an American line and Tom's section had been rushed back in. My Dad never saw Tom as he later learned he had been killed by a mortar shell. So near to what would have been an amazing reunion. My Dad continued in the Merchant Navy till his ship was torpedoed and he and the crew were rescued”.
Guardsman Thomas Murray is remembered and commemorated on The Patterdale War Memorial and The Santerno Valley War Cemetery, Italy (Plot II, Row B, Grave 16).
His father Alexander, who was born in Glenridding and worked in the Greenside Lead Mines, died in November 1918 at the age of 46. His mother Jane lived to the grand age of 86 until she died in July 1959 at Snowdon Road Hospital in Bristol. She was buried in St Patrick's Churchyard on the 23rd July 1959 alongside her husband Alexander. Unfortunately we have currently have no further information on what became of his wife Dorothy May Murray, or their daughter Jean Murray.
His eldest brother William (Billy) Allinson Murray was born in Glenridding on the 14th March 1902 and baptised at the Wesleyan Chapel in Patterdale on the 23rd March 1902. He died in Westmorland around September 1970 aged 68. His sister Violet Murray was born at Halton Terrace around June 1905 and baptised at St Patrick's Church on the 12th July 1905. His sister Annie Elizabeth Murray was born at Halton Terrace on the 17th July 1906 and baptised at the Wesleyan Chapel in Patterdale on the 12th August 1906 and again a few days later at St Patrick's Church on the 15th August 1906. She married Albert John Bruce in South Shields on the 18th February 1934 and died there in February 1896 aged 89. His brother Ronald (Ronnie) Alexander Murray was born at Halton Terrace, Glenridding on the 6th January 1908 and baptised at St Patrick's Church on the 17th February 1908. He died in Bristol around November 1986 aged 78. His brother John Edward (Ted) Robison Murray was born at Halton Terrace, Glenridding on the 27th May 1910 and baptised at St Patrick's Church on the 24th July 1910. As above he served with distinction throughout the Second World War in the Merchant Navy. He died in the Central Cleveland district around July 1986 aged 76. We are very grateful to his son Alexander kindly shared some of the information and photos on this page, including the one of John and his brother Josh in uniform taken in Glenridding. Alexander was born in 1943 and remembers spending holidays as a child with his Gran (Tommy’s mother) in Glenridding, including during the time that Donald Campbell was setting records Bluebird on Ullswater in 1955. Alexander and his father met Campbell’s lead engineer, Leo Villa, although his Gran seemed more concerned with the noise levels generated by the activities on the lake! Both John and Ronnie’s ashes were scattered at St Patrick’s Patterdale.
Joseph (Josh) Murray was born in Glenridding around September 1914 and baptised at St Patrick's Church on the 25th October 1914. He also served in the war and his photo, kindly shared by the family, is shown below, and with brother John.
His sister Lena Isabella Robison Murray was born on the 22nd February 1912 in Glenridding. She married Stanley Cartwright in Wrexham around August 1941 and died there in early 1981 aged 69.
We are very grateful to Claire, Lena’s grand daughter, and Alexander, John’s son for the family information and photos below that they have shared with us. These include the moving photo of his grave in Italy below, a photo of his brother Joseph in uniform and the announcement of Thomas’ death in the Herald . This is the original clipping cut out from the paper and kept by Thomas’ mother.
Also shown below are another photo of a proud Thomas in his uniform and also a family wedding photo of sister Lena’s marriage to Stanley Cartwright.
If you can add anything further to Thomas’ story please contact us.
A close up of Tommys Grave supplied by his nephew Alexander.
John and Josh Murray in World War Two in Glenridding.