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Thomas Burns was born in Preston in 1895 to Thomas and Mary Burns (nee Cain). His father was originally from Slievemore, Achill Island in County Mayo before he moved to Preston where he married Mary Cain in St. Saviour`s Church on the 8th December 1877. Thomas had at least nine siblings several of whom had died and by 1901 only Thomas, his sisters Elizabeth Ann (1883), Ellen (1884) and a brother John (1886) were living at home with their parents at 19 Queen Street in Preston.

In 1911 the family home was still Queen Street where sixteen year old Thomas was living with his parents and working as a cotton spinner, his father`s occupation is noted as a labourer (clay miner).

At the age of nineteen Thomas enlisted into the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment at Bolton on the 2nd September 1914. Later information suggests that he had been working as an electrician prior to his enlistment so perhaps he was working away in Bolton when he joined up. He was five feet seven and a quarter inches tall and weighed 154lbs and had blue eyes and dark hair. He was allocated the service number 15507 and posted to the 8th Battalion. While Thomas was still training in England his service papers reveal four entries on his misconduct sheet;

  • 4/1/15 – Boscombe – Absent off pass 12 midnight till 9pm on the 5th. Punishment 3 days confined to barracks.
  • 15/4/15 – Boscombe – Absent from 7.15am parade. Punishment 5 days confined to barracks.
  • 5/7/15 – Aldershot – Making an improper reply to an N.C.O. Punishment 3 days confined to barracks.
  • 16/9/15 – Aldershot – Not complying with an order. Punishment 5 days confined to barracks.

Nine days after his last offence Thomas sailed to France with the 8th Battalion on the 25th September 1915.

From the middle of November 1915 to the middle of January 1916 the Battalion was in and out of the trenches in Ploegsteert Wood when on the 10th January Thomas was slightly wounded. The Battalion War Diary notes;

10th January 1916 – 9.45am – Heavy metal was dropped on T123 morning and afternoon and midday from WEST end of STRAND. In each case 110th Bde RFA gave powerful and adequate retaliation, with satisfactory results.

During afternoon, billet in Ploegsteert occupied by BDE Pioneers was shelled resulting in the following casualties; wounded 4280 PTE HEYES, 15507 PTE BURNS and 1550 PTE LITTLE killed.

At the end of March 1916 two companies were sent to Maroeuil under the command of Major Caldwell where they provided carrying parties for the 51st Division. The remaining companies joined them on the 11th April and a few days later the whole of the Battalion went up to the trenches in front of Mont St. Eloi. Opposite this part of the line the enemy was beginning to show considerable activity and the bombardment was at times exceptionally heavy resulting in a number of casualties.

On the 3rd May the Battalion went into Divisional Reserve but by the 9th May they were back in the trenches once again after relieving a battalion of the Wiltshire Regiment. The Battalion War Diary reports that the 10th May passed fairly quietly except for a little rifle grenade firing on the left of the line. Sadly, as a result of this activity Thomas was severely wounded with gun-shot wounds to his head, eyes and face and was taken to number 42 casualty clearing station. He was later admitted to 12 Stationery Hospital at St. Pol where on the 28th May he finally succumbed to his wounds.

The report of his death was announced later in the Preston Guardian;burns T 1

Thomas was laid to rest in St. Pol Communal Cemetery Extension. After the war his parents took receipt of their son`s 1915 Star, British War and Victory Medals.

Thomas is remembered on the Roll of Honour in the Harris Museum and Art Gallery in his home town of Preston.

burns T 2

Rank: Private
Service No: 15507
Date of Death: 28/05/1916
Age: 21
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 8th Bn.

Janet Davis
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3 Responses to 15507 PTE. T. BURNS. L.N.LAN.R.

  1. Peter Burns says:

    My great grandfather’s cousin…I have been researching the family over 35 yrs…p

  2. Peter Burns says:

    Thomas was my great grandfathers cousin… I gave been researching the family for over 35 yrs..

  3. Gareth Hughes says:

    Currently researching a friend’s great uncle, Pte 15515 Robert Beaver who enlisted on the same day as Thomas Burns and arrived in France on the same day. Killed in action on 14/10 1916 and buried at Grandcourt Road Cemetery, Grandcourt, Somme.
    More to follow ..

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