Henry Edward Thurley was born in 1895, the tenth of twelve children to George and Charlotte Thurley. George was a brickmaker from Enfield, Middlesex, and the family moved around to follow his work.
Born in Sheerness, Kent, by the 1901 census, Henry was living with his family in Shoeburyness, Essex. Ten years later, the family had relocated back in Kent, and Henry had joined his father in the brickmaking business, while also working as a waterman – working on boats in the nearby Medway estuary.
When the Great War came, Henry was quick to enlist. He joined the East Kent Regiment – also known as “The Buffs” – in August 1915. After his initial training, Private Thurley was sent to France as part of the British Expeditionary Force.
Private Thurley was wounded on 6th March 1916, receiving gunshot wounds to his right foot, head and eyes. He was sent home to recover, but within a couple of months, he was back on the front line, serving for King and country again.
Henry was wounded again on 16th January 1917; this time is was his right eye that was affected, and he was shipped back to the UK and admitted to Merryflats War Hospital in Glasgow. His wounds appeared more serious this time, and he succumbed to them at 3:50pm on 1st February 1917. He was just 21 years old.
Private Henry Thurley was buried in the churchyard of St Mary the Virgin in his home village of Upchurch in Kent.