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Thomas Richard Hilton was born in Horwich in November 1887 and was the son of Henry and Mary Hilton (nee Hough).

In March 1901 he was 13 years old and had already left full time education and was working in a bleach works. His family, including his three brothers and two sisters, were living at 12 Lawson Street, Chorley.

At twenty years old, in October 1907 Thomas was working as a goods porter on the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railways and was admitted into the ‘Amalgamated Society of Railway Servants’ union.

He married Fanny Newbold in Horwich on 30th January 1909 and they had a son named Harry born in Chorley on 4th November 1910 just after leaving his work on the Railways.

At the time of the 1911 census he was living with his wife and child at 19 Fielder Street and was employed as a Motor Bus Conductor. On the night of the census at least, two of Fanny’s brothers were also present, William and Herbert Newbold. By 1914 the young family were living at 49 Bolton Street, Chorley.

Thomas Hilton enlisted in the Army at Chorley on 22nd August 1914 and joined the 6th (Service) Battalion of the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment with the number 11566. He had no previous military service and stated had recently been working as a dyer. The medical officer described Thomas as being 5ft 3.5in tall, weighing 110 lbs with a 33.5in chest. He was 26 years 278 days old, had brown hair, brown eyes and was of a fresh complexion. The officer noted several distinctive marks on his body that would help in identifying him should the worst happen; a mole on the left of his chest and his back, a scar on his right leg, ‘cross flags’ tattoo on his left arm and his initials ‘T.H.’ on his fore arm.

Somewhat surprisingly for a man with no previous military experience he was appointed paid Lance Corporal within three weeks of enlisting and was promoted to Corporal in less than two months.

Whilst preparing to sail overseas, when the Battalion was training at Blackdown in May 1915, he was severely reprimanded for neglect of duty by Lt. Col, Levinge; luckily for him he managed to retain his stripes.

Corporal Thomas Hilton sailed for Gallipoli with the 6th Bn. from Avonmouth aboard HMT Braemar Castle on 15th June 1915 and remained overseas until he was sent back to the UK on 15th October 1915 and was given ten days furlough of leave. His home address had changed in the interim to 10 Kershaw Street, Chorley.

Six weeks later, 25th November 1915 Thomas returned to the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force and moved on to Mesopotamia with them on 23rd April 1916.  

On 15th February 1917 notice came to say he was being transferred to the Royal Engineers and would employed as a motor engineer with the Inland Water Transport division at Basrah. He was now a Sapper with the number WR553391. It is not known why he didn’t keep his rank when he transferred. He was appointed acting Sergeant and promoted to Sergeant in early November 1918 just before the Armistice.

On being sent from Amara to the UK  for discharge his commanding officer wrote that Thomas was ‘reliable, intelligent, sober and has a good power of command and control, and is tactful in his way of handling men’. He was discharged on 23rd February 1919 and returned to live on Kershaw Street, Chorley; albeit a few doors away now, at number 6.

On 12th January 1920 the London Gazette published that Thomas Hilton had been Mentioned in Despatches for being ‘Brought to notice for distinguished and gallant services and devotion to duty’ by Lt. Gen. W.R. Marshall. The notice shows he was substantive Sapper, but had been appointed acting Sergeant when the recommendation was drafted.thomas hilton

For his service during the Great War, Thomas was awarded the 1914/15 star, the British War Medal and the Allied Victory Medal with MiD emblems. He was also awarded a War Pension of 6s 6d per week for himself and 1s-4d per week for his wife and child due to suffering from the effects of having contracted malaria during the War.

Thomas and Fanny went on to have two more children, both girls; Florence Abba Hilton (b. 1922) and Elsie Hilton (b. 1926).

Thomas Richard Hilton died at the Chorley and District Hospital on 7th May 1949. His probate shows he had lived at 6 Kershaw street up until his death.

Paul McCormick
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