I was quite the ancient mariner by the time the war broke out in 1914.
I was born in Devoran on 7th October 1864, the third child of Richard and Elizabeth Tyack. My father was a master shoemaker, who was originally from Chacewater but he had a good business in Devoran and employed three men. We lived at 24 St. John’s Terrace.
When I left school I went to live in Fairmantle Street, Truro where I lodged with Mrs. Emma Curnow and her daughter, Mary. Emma was a widow and they took in laundry to earn a living. I got a job as an apprentice engine fitter but I soon got fed up with life ashore and took my trade into the Royal Navy, which I joined on 3rd July 1887.
I served on a lot of ships and saw service and action all over the British Empire in the late Victorian era and into the early years of the 20th century.
I rose to the rank of Chief Petty Officer, Engine Room Artificer and was discharged from the navy in 1909 with “very good character” on my discharge papers.
I came back home to the family in St. John’s Terrace after my discharge and lived with mother, who was now past 80 and my sister Mary, who was a year older than me and was at home looking after her.
Father had died back in 1906 at the age of 91 and was buried in Devoran Churchyard on 26th October of that year.
War in Europe was becoming ever closer during July 1914 and Britain declared war on Germany on 4th August 1914. I had re-joined the Royal Navy just a couple of days before that on 2nd August when there was a general call to the nation to prepare for war.
I joined HMS Albion, a 13,000 ton pre-Dreadnought type Battleship first launched in 1896. We were stationed in the English Channel for a while and then off the coast of Finisterre in case the German navy tried to break out into the Atlantic. After that we went out to the Dardanelles where we were in action against Ottoman shore bases in preparation for troops to move in. We were hit many times by gunnery from ashore, but the old ship was tough and managed to avoid serious damage until May 1915 when we had suffered so much damage that she had to make for Malta for repairs.
I came back home to HMS Vivid, a shore base at Devonport, but I was not in the best of health by then and I was invalided out of the navy in July 1915 suffering from bronchitis and emphysema.
I came back home to 24 St. John’s Terrace.
Mother died just a few months after I got back and we buried her alongside father in Devoran Churchyard on 19th November 1915. She was 89.
There were just me and Mary left now and we grew old together.
Mary followed mother and father up to the Churchyard on 30th November 1940, at the age of 77 and I followed them all up the road a year later and was buried in Devoran Churchyard just a week before Christmas 1941 also at the age of 77.
Written by Bob Richards for the 1st July centenary 2016 in Devoran Village Hall.
Read more about names on the Devoran War Memorial and Roll of Honour: