The story of Victor Tickner

Victor Tickner.
Photo courtesy of Shirley Cook

We continue to discover echoes of our First World War soldiers as we go about our other Museum roles.

A number of postcards were donated to the museum a year or so ago. We were told that we could sell any of these that had no relevance to Dorking.

At first glance, a postcard image of the Interior of “Blue Idol” Coolham (where William Penn preached) had no relevance to Dorking at all. However, the man who wrote this postcard has a very real connection to Dorking.

Victor Tickner was born in Capel in 1887. He attended the South Holmwood Church of England School, as his family were living in Brook Cottage in Holmwood. After a spell working as a porter at Petworth Station in 1905, the next time we found him was in the 1911 census where he was living in Ifield near Crawley in West Sussex, where he was working as a bricklayer’s assistant.

When Victor’s call up papers arrived – he was back in Holmwood, where he tried to obtain an exemption from the Navy, citing that he was the only man in the house, and there was a shop to run. The exemption was rejected on March 11th 1916.

On 4th April 1916, Victor enlisted into the Royal Navy. He was a Stoker 2nd Class on the HMS Victory. His service number was K32062. Less than month later, on 27th April 1916, Victor was dead. He died at the Haslar Royal Naval Hospital of a heart attack, following which seemed like a self inflicted wound to the throat.

Victor Tickner was buried in Dorking Cemetery, the Dorking Advertiser reported that he had died in an accident.

It was unusual for men to be commemorated on local war memorials if they hadn’t died in active service, so when Victor’s name was nominated, the committee of the Holmwood memorial were unsure what to do – so they contacted the Navy. The Navy replied saying he was on Portsmouth Naval Memorial as they commemorated all the men who had died during the war, no matter how they had died. Victor Tickner’s name appears on the South Holmwood Memorial.

Shirley Cook contacted the Museum, she is the great niece of Victor Tickner. Shirley was able to provide us with a photograph of Victor.

In October 2020, we were sorting through the postcards, and recognised the addressee as Tickner. Looking closer – we realised that the postcard was signed “Vic”

The postcard, sent on 9th December 1910, read

Dear Lizzie,

I am just sending a line to let you know we are all right. If you should come over on Sunday please will you bring over a pair of my old trousers for work, if you haven’t got rid of them. I get so dirty where we are working as I wear my overalls. I will send a present for mother then. Wish her happy returns of the day from me. Love to all, Vic.’

The postmark is Crawley, and 1910 is the time when Victor was living in Ilfield and working as a bricklayer, so his appeal for old trousers would have been for that job.

Shirley told us that her Great Grandmother and Victor’s mother, Ellen Tickner, celebrated her birthday on 11th December.

We have sent Victor’s postcard to Shirley Cook, and we are so grateful to her for providing us with the photograph and information about her great uncle.

Victor Tickner’s profile on Holmwood Memorial is here.

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