Harry Culley D.C.M

Harry Culley was born on the 10th of December 1889, the son of John and Ann Culley, John was devout member of the Congregational Church in Twyford where there is a commemorative plaque in his honour; Harry’s schooling was at Twyford.

 

On leaving school he went to work as a plate layer on the railway following his father.

 

The War records show that in 1914, Harry joined the army and rose through the ranks eventually becoming Sergeant Harry Culley, number 20445 Machine Gun Corps, he fought in the Battles of Loos and Verdun, then during the fierce Somme battle against the Germans, he was in charge of two machine guns. Soon after the start of the attack he got his gun over the top and into action.

It was not long before most of his men had been killed; he then went back for reinforcements and ammunition but had great difficulty in getting the ammunition back to his guns. Once back in action he was providing the guns with ammunition, eventually working one gun himself with the infantry working the other, once the new ammunition was all used up he was left with only his revolver to defend himself, but an enemy bullet went through his knee and took him out of further action.

Buckingham Advertiser dated the 11th January 1917
Buckingham Advertiser dated the 11th January 1917

After the war he married Vida George and they lived in Portway Road, Twyford. The injury left him with a straight Leg which needed artificial support, but once fully recovered he found work back on the London & North West Railway, maintaining the Oxford to Bletchley branch line. His main responsibility was the section between Marsh Gibbon and Claydon Stations.

On the Railway, Harry was what was called a Ganger man and was in charge of a group of men. Part of the daily maintenance was to knock the keys back tightly into the chairs on which the Rails rested. These were initially just tapered blocks of hardwood but the passage of the trains loosened these keys. Those who walked the line with Harry noticed his restricted stride worked well with the spacing of the sleepers to which the chairs were bolted.

Sgt Culley receives his medal
Sgt Culley receives his medal featured in the Buckingham Advertiser dated the 4th November 1916.
This Photograph of Harry was taken by Chapmans Photographers of Buckingham.
This Photograph of Harry was taken by Chapmans Photographers of Buckingham.
This photograph was probably taken when Harry had recovered from his injury
This photograph was probably taken when Harry had recovered from his injury
harry culley in football team
Harry Culley in the Twyford football team

The newspaper cutting above from the 30th of December 1911 shows that Harry was in the village football team, also in the team were two footballers from the George family who later became his brothers in law, when he married Vida George after the war.

On retirement, he continued to walk regularly with his dog, Topsy, and maintained two gardens providing lots of vegetables; he died at home on the 25th December 1964.

Harry Culley stick

Harry’s Paddle and walking stick, the paddle he would use when walking round the garden. It was his favourite tool for grubbing up weeds.