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Thomas Masheter was born into a Roman Catholic family in Preston in 1895. His father was a traction engine driver named Joseph Masheter and his mother was Ellen Masheter. Thomas had five brothers and a sister and in 1901 they were living at 11 Cobden Street, Preston.

By the time of the 1911 census his father had died and the remainder of the family were living at 60 Maudland bank, Preston. Those present were;

  • Ellen Masheter, age 46, widow
  • William Henry Masheter, age 24 – Clerk for Lancashire County Council
  • Joseph Masheter, age 21 – Cabinet maker
  • Frederick Masheter, age 18 – Cabinet maker
  • Thomas Masheter, age 16 – Clerk for Railway Agents
  • Ellen Masheter, age 13 – Cotton weaver
  • Albert Masheter, age 8 – School

When war was declared in August 1914, the Earl of Derby had made the suggestion that men might be more willing to enlist in the New Armies if they could be assured of fighting alongside their own friends, neighbours and workmates. Kitchener gave his blessing to this idea and sanctioned the raising of battalions by local councils, or even individuals, of what became known as ‘Pals Battalions’. The 7th Loyal North Lancs. was one such Battalion and much is written about their D Company, the Preston Pals. The three other companies making up the battalion were filled by ‘Pals’ from Blackpool, Kirkham and the Fylde, and Chorley.

The Mayor of Preston, Cyril Cartmell, placed the following advertisement in The Lancashire Daily Post on 31st August 1914.

‘It is proposed to form a Company of young businessmen, clerks, etc., to be drawn from Preston and the surrounding districts, and be attached, if practicable, to a battalion of the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment. Will those who would like to join apply here any afternoon or evening this week – the earlier the better. Town Hall, Preston – Cyril Cartmell 31st August, 1914”

At this time it was thought that the war would be over by Christmas’, and nobody wanted to miss out on the action. On 7th September 1914, 19-year-old Thomas enlisted in the Army and joined the 7th Battalion of the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, the Preston Pals, with the number 13100.

The Preston Pals parading in front of large crowds in Preston

The Preston Pals parading in front of large crowds in Preston

On his enlistment papers Thomas declared he was single, lived with his parents and had no previous military service and had been employed as a clerk. He allotted 10/2 from his pay to his mother.

At his enlistment medical the officer described Thomas as standing 5ft 4in tall, weighing 116lbs with a 56.5in chest. He then moved down to Tidworth with the Battalion and began training for war service.

Photo of `D` Company, 7th Battalion (Preston Pals) taken on the 21 November, 1914 at Tidworth.

Photo of `D` Company, 7th Battalion (Preston Pals) taken on the 21 November, 1914 at Tidworth.

At Clevedon on 8th March 1915 Thomas received a punishment of 7 days confinement to barracks for ‘When on active service, refusing to obey an order’. He sailed from Folkestone to Boulogne with the main body of the 7th Battalion on 17th July 1915.

He was granted one week leave, in the field, between 26th February and 2nd March 1916.

When the Battle of the Somme began on 1st July 1916 the 7th Battalion, part of 19th Division, moved to the USNA TARA line near ALBERT where they were put into the reserve. They were meant to be involved in the attack at OVILLERS at 5 p.m. on the first day but that was cancelled 15 minutes before they were due to go over the top. They then moved down to LA BOISSELLE.

LA BOISSELLE

The Battalion had been in the old German trenches near La Boisselle since the 3rd July. The trenches here were “very much knocked about and full of dead” and from here they launched their attack on the village of La Boisselle, during which, on the 5th July 1916 that Temp Lt. Thomas Orde Lawder Wilkinson won the Victoria Cross for most conspicuous bravery. The village was consolidated by the evening of the 6th but the Battalion remained in the line until 11pm on 7th July 1916.

Between 10th and 19th July they were in action at HENENCOURT WOOD where on 17th July Thomas was attached to a Lewis Gun Company.

The Lewis Gun

The Lewis Gun

On 20th July the Battalion moved to BAZENTIN LE PETIT and a report sent to H.Q. mentions an event that Thomas might have been involved at 7 p.m.

Sender: NL21 Day of Month: 21/7

Ref 19 Div I. 13

Our aeroplanes drove a German plane back to our reserve line yesterday evening. In spite of heavy fire from aeroplanes he was getting away until our Lewis gunners opened fire and brought him down after he crossed our front line flying North. The aeroplane lost control and the machine turned over as it fell. It was smashed to bits on reaching the ground and burst into flames which burnt the men in the plane.

7 N LAN R, 10:30 p.m.

On 21st July 1916 Private Thomas Masheter was killed in action, a party of men had been sent to a ‘jumping off’ trench for D Company and at 10 p.m. they came under fire from a barrage of lachrymatory shells. The War Diary notes that ‘a few men were gassed’. Thomas’ body was not recovered from the battlefield and as such he is remembered on the Thiepval Memorial to the missing.

No effects were returned to his family but Ellen would later receive her late-son’s 1914/15 Star, British War Medal and Allied Victory medal in addition to a memorial plaque and scroll bearing his name and in recognition of his sacrifice.

He is remembered on the Preston Roll of Honour at the Harris Museum. The original submission form for his name to be included is shown below;

13100 PTE THOMAS MASHETER 7TH BN

Rank: Private
Service No: 13100
Date of Death: 21/07/1916
Age: 21
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 7th Bn.
Memorial: THIEPVAL MEMORIAL

Paul McCormick
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Paul McCormick

Paul McCormick is the creator and administrator for the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment website. Since 2010 he has been researching the soldiers that served during the First World War and sharing their stories on his website. You can contact Paul through the website 'Contact Me' page or on Twitter and Facebook.
Paul McCormick
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