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Thomas Bradley was born in Preston in 1896 the son of a clog iron maker John Thomas Bradley and Martha Jane Pennington. Thomas`s parents married in St. Thomas`s Church in Preston on the 2nd August 1890 and they went on to have six children all born in Preston and all of whom survived; Annie (1891), Margaret (1892), John (1894), Thomas (1896)*, Martha Alice (1898) and Elizabeth (1904.

Thomas`s father was originally from Aldershot and was the son of a musician while his mother Martha was born in Barrow the daughter of a ship`s carpenter. After their marriage in 1890 they set up home at 30 Brookfield Street in Preston where John Thomas Bradley was working as a clog iron maker. By 1901 the family had moved to number 87 Harcourt Street which was just a few minutes’ walk away from their previous home.

In 1911 Thomas and his family were living at 292 Brook Street which was again not far from where they had been living previously. Thomas was now working as a weaver, his brother John was a `reacher` in the mill and his two older sisters Annie and Margaret were also weavers.

Thomas enlisted into the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment on the 3rd September 1914 and he was allocated the number 14054 and posted to the 8th Battalion. At his medical inspection it was noted that he was 5`7” tall and weighed 136lbs. He had a fresh complexion, grey eyes and brown hair. Thomas was unmarried and living at home with his parents in Brook Street and prior to his enlistment he had been working at the Leyland Rubber works. For official purposes Thomas`s father was listed as his next of kin.

The 8th Battalion remained in England for a full year after the date it first came into existence, training and growing in strength, until at the beginning of September 1915, it was announced that the Division was very shortly to sail for `an unknown destination`. The Battalion came under the command of the 74th Brigade of the 25th Division.

On the 13th September 1915 Thomas was appointed Lance Corporal (unpaid) and just over a week later he was appointed Lance Corporal (paid).

Thomas travelled with the main body of the Battalion from Aldershot to Folkestone on the 25th September 1915 and from there sailed to Boulogne. A month later on the 25th October the Battalion left the 74th Brigade and was transferred to the 7th Brigade of the same Division.

Thomas`s papers note that on the 10th June 1916 he relinquished his Lance Corporal stripe and reverted back to Private and it was apparently at his own request.

Just a month later on the 10th July 1916 Thomas was killed on the Somme when the 7th and 74th Brigades were ordered to attack northwards Ovillers. 

The Battalion War Diary – 10th July 1916

About 1pm orders were received to occupy several points in the enemy line running across our front and joining our trenches on the right. At 2.30pm an advance was made from our block and a heavy hostile barrage was opened on the trench, but in spite of very large casualties we reached Point 25, where we were held up by enemy bombing parties, and heavy shelling and bombing continued for about two hours without any gains on either side.

The enemy then tried to outflank us, both on right and left, moving across the open, but was driven off and the night passed quietly, a block being established just short of Point 25. A detached post under Sergeant Holmes of `C` Company on the left of our line held its ground all day, although it experienced many casualties and no supports could reach it. The post was relieved during the night of 10th-11th.

It is believed that at one time the Battalion was opposed by no fewer than three Prussian battalions. Desultory shell fire was continued until the Battalion was relieved in the front line on the evening of the 11th, moving back into dug-outs in La Boisselle.

The Battalion casualties had been very heavy with a total of 247 men either killed, wounded or missing.

Thomas`s death was later reported in the Preston Guardian in which he is still referred to as Lance Corporal, presumably word had not reached home that he had given up his Lance stripe a month before his death.Bradley

After the war his parents took receipt of his 1915 Star, British War and Victory Medals. As his body was never recovered from the battlefield Thomas`s name was recorded on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing on the Somme.

Rank: Private
Service No: 14054
Date of Death: 10/07/1916
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 8th Bn.

Janet Davis
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