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Thomas Helme Byrne was born in Bolton in 1896 and was the son of Clara Byrne.

On the 1911 Census he was listed as Thomas Helme Byrne – the adopted son of John and Jane Helme of 37 Stone Street, Bolton.

Thomas worked as an apprentice sawyer in a saw mill. John Helme was a joiner at a bleachworks and Jane was a housewife.

He enlisted in the Army and joined the 6th Battalion of the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment with the number 11401. He sailed to Gallipoli with his Battalion in June 1915 and was reported to be missing after action at Chunuk Bair on 9/10th August 1915.

The official despatch states;

“The two battalions of the New Army chosen to hold Chunuk Bair were the 6th Loyal North Lancashire Regiment. The first of these arrived in good time and occupied the trenches. Even in the darkness their commanding officer, Lieut-Colonel H.G. Levinge, recognized how dangerously these trenches were sited, and he began at once to dig observation posts on the actual crest and to strengthen the defences where he could; but he had not time given him to do much.

The second battalion, the Wiltshires, were delayed by the intricate country; they did not reach the edge of the entrenchment until 4am, and were then told to lie down in what was believed, erroneously, to be a covered position. At daybreak on Tuesday 10th August, the Turks delivered a grand attack from the Chunuk Bair Hill-Q against these two battalions, already weakened in numbers, though not in spirit, by previous fighting.

First our men were shelled by every enemy gun, and then, at 5.30am, were assaulted by a huge column consisting of no less than a full division, plus a regiment of three battalions.

The Loyal North Lancashire men were simply overwhelmed in their shallow trenches by sheer weight in numbers, whilst the Wiltshires who were caught in the open, were literally almost annihilated. The ponderous mass of enemy swept over the crest, turned the right flank of our line below, swarmed round the Hampshires and General Baldwin’s column, which had to which had to give ground and were only extricated with great difficulty and very heavy losses.

Towards this supreme struggle the absolute last two battalions from our general reserve were now hurried, but by 10am, the effort of the enemy was spent. Soon their shattered remnants began to trickle back, leaving a track of corpses behind them, and by nightfall, except prisoners or wounded, no live Turk was left upon our side of the slope.”

The Bolton Journal and Guardian of 15th October 1915 carried the following article;

Missing in Gallipoli
Word has been received by Mr. J. Helm 3, Lydgate, Breightmet, that Pte. Thomas Helm Byrne, whom he adopted, is reported missing after an engagement in Gallipoli on August 9th. This adds another name to the long list of casualties published in connexion with the 6th Loyal North Lancashire Regiment in their charge at at the new landings in Suvla Bay. Pte. Byrne, who was a signaller, and 19 years of age, enlisted on August 17th last year, and after being in training at Preston, Tidworth, Aldershot and Blackdown,he proceeded to the Dardanelles. Prior to enlisting he resided in Tonge Moor. He was employed at the Tootill Bridge Bleachworks. His name is on the St. Augustine’s Roll of Honour.

Sometime later he was presumed to have died on that date. Thomas was 19 years old and his name appears on the Helles Memorial.

HELLES MEMORIAL

THE HELLES MEMORIAL

Rank: Private
Service No: 11401
Date of Death: 09/08/1915
Age: 19
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 6th Bn.
Memorial: HELLES MEMORIAL

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This article has been reproduced with kind permission from the DBBC young roots heritage project. The young people identified and researched the the servicemen pictured in a 1916 Bolton Journal and Guardian supplement who were killed at Gallipoli. You can visit their website by clicking on the DBBC logo.
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