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Thomas Henry Hooper was born in Preston to Ernest Probin and Ellen Hooper (nee Davis). Thomas`s parents married in 1897 in Preston and Thomas was the eldest of six sons the couple had, the others being; Ernest (1900), John (1903), Henry (1905), James (1908) and Joseph (1911).
Thomas`s father was originally from Birmingham in Warwickshire and he had previously served in the Militia before enlisting into the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment at Preston on the 21st July 1893. He was still a serving soldier when he married Ellen Davis although he did not serve abroad.
In 1901 Thomas, his parents and baby brother Ernest were lodging with his maternal grandparents Thomas and Mary Davis at 24 Travers Street in Preston. Thomas`s father was still a Private with the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment and his Grandfather Thomas Davis was a `dock gate man` on Preston Docks.
After serving for 16 years Ernest Hooper was discharged from the Army in 1909 and by 1911 the family had moved into 42 St. Mark`s Road in Preston. Thirteen year old Thomas was working as a tenter in a cotton mill and his father had secured a job as a bargeman working for Preston Corporation on the Docks.
On the 16th November 1914 Thomas enlisted into the Army and following in his father`s footsteps he joined the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment. He was given the service number 18116 and posted to the 3rd Battalion. He was five feet three and a half inches tall and he weighed 110lbs. He had grey eyes, brown hair and a fresh complexion.
Thomas embarked for France with a batch of reinforcements on the 18th May 1915 and subsequently joined the 1st Battalion in the field.
Unfortunately he was wounded on the 25th September 1915 during the opening day of the Battle of Loos. He was hit with shrapnel in his right side and also received gun-shot wounds in his back. Two days later he was on his way back to hospital in England for treatment via the Hospital Ship St. David.
After finally recovering from his wounds Thomas was discharged from hospital on the 24 October, 1915 and then posted to the 3rd Battalion, joining them after some home leave on the 3 November, 1915.
John spent the next few months re-training with the 3rd Battalion at Felixstowe. While he was there he spent a week in late March at The Cliff Military Hospital suffering from bronchitis. After recovering from that he was then sent back out to France on the 12th April 1916 re-joining the 1st Battalion in the field on the 7th May 1916.
A couple of months later on the 15th July 1916 John was wounded for the second time during the 1st Battalions involvement on the Somme, he was hit by shrapnel in the buttock and left thigh and also received a gun-shot wound in his left leg. He was again sent back to England to the Southern General hospital in Birmingham for treatment, this time via the Hospital Ship Carisbrooke.
John recovered from his injuries and the usual format followed, discharge from hospital, two weeks home leave and then back to the 3rd Battalion for more training.
He embarked for France for the third time on the 13 September, 1916 and on arrival spent almost two weeks at the Base Depot in France before being posted to the 10th Battalion on the 29 September, 1916.
Thomas must have been doing quite well because by December 1916 he had been promoted to the rank of Corporal.
After leading a bombing party into action sometime in February 1917 Thomas won the Military Medal for “Bravery in the field”. This was reported in the supplement to the London Gazette on the 26 March, 1917 and was confirmed in the newspaper article below dated early April, 1917.
Sadly, not long after the newspaper article was published Thomas was killed in action on the 11th April, 1917 at Arras.
Arras – 10th/11th April 1917
During the night, orders were received that the L.N.Lancs were to continue the advance and attack at 05:00hrs going through the East Lancs and attacking the trenches, having as our objective the `Green Line` and in particular the wood (Tilloy).
Arras – 11th April 1917 – 05:00hrs
The Battalion having previously got into position for such an advance, almost immediately came into full view of the enemy and was met with very heavy machine gun and shell fire.
Arras – 11th April 1917 – 05:30hrs
We received orders not to advance until barrage opened. By this time, we had carried by assault, the enemy trench in front (east of Sunken Road) and were establishing ourselves in shell holes 100 yards further east.
It was at this time that Captain Peskett, 2nd Lieutenant Ibbotson and 2nd Lieutenant Goodman were killed.
During this assault, we suffered very heavy casualties and were being enfiladed from Monchy le Preux. The right flank, perceiving that they were in the air and appreciating the fact that if it remained as such, there was a likelihood of their being outflanked, boldly determined to risk all and assaulted a small trench running southwards from Cambrai Road in the direction of Guemappe and about 30 yards east of Sunken Road before mentioned.
A tank apparently also appreciating the situation in a like manner, came to their aid.
On obtaining possession of the trench, Corporal Leonard and Lance Corporal Dinwoodie and six men were all that was left. These eight men boldly bombed along the trench southward killing more than a dozen Bosche, taking three prisoners and found themselves in complete possession. To their almost surprise, seven Bosche officers miraculously appeared apparently from nowhere. This was not a time to stand on ceremony, whereupon the officers suffered the same fate as their men. Two machine guns were captured in this gallant assault, but as the new garrison were so weak in numbers and fearing that they might eventually be in their turn evicted, they blew them up.
These men retained possession of this trench as did also Captain Gravett, ably assisted by Second Lieutenant Deacon (being the only two officers now left) and CSM Webster with sixty men made themselves masters of the situation of the corresponding trench running northwards from the Cambrai Road. Here the garrison remained throughout the day, although there were signs of the enemy massing for a counter attack from the south.
It was about this time that Second Lieutenant Parker died after being badly wounded.
The Commanding Officer and Adjutant, having collected enroute stragglers of all Battalions to the number of about fifty, arrived on the scene. By this time, and with the assistance of these reinforcements, Captain Gravett was the complete master of the situation. From this time onwards, reinforcements of officers and men from other Battalions kept arriving.
Arras – 11th April 1917 – 13:50hrs
The Commanding Officer sent in a report to the General informing him that the situation had improved considerably and he had made plans for bombing parties to proceed along both sides of the Cambrai Road and to attack the enemy trench after nightfall, which was about 300 yards in front of our line, as it was not deemed advisable at the moment to advance further, knowing full well that were in advance of all troops on our right and left, besides which in our present position we had command of a good field of view.
During this period Second Lieutenant Deacon received two wounds, but would not desert his Captain or his men.
About three hours after entering the trench, some of the 3rd Dragoon Guards, acting as infantry, came up on their left. This gave them some breathing space.
During this time men of the East Lancs and 10th L.N.Lancs oozed from shell holes and thickened the line of fire to our front line and could also enfilade the enemy on our right where the troops on that flank would advance further.
Arras – 11th April 1917 – 17:00hrs
We received orders that we would be relieved at 18:30hrs and immediately informed Captain Gravett to hold himself in readiness to be relieved. This relief was not completed until 01:00hrs. The men being in a very exhausted condition withdrew to Tilloy where we spent the remainder of the night.
Tilloy Wood – 12th April 1917 – 08:00hrs
Roll Call. Only a few of the brave fellows left. Our losses were estimated at 13 Officers and 286 men. That is over 60% of our fighting strength.
Thomas`s body was never recovered from the battlefield and so his name was recorded on the Arras Memorial to the Missing.
He was awarded the 1915 Star, British War and Victory Medals in recognition of his service to his country.
Service No: 18116
Date of Death: 11/04/1917
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 10th Bn.
Memorial: ARRAS MEMORIAL
Janet Davis has been researching her family history for many years and through this she discovered many relatives who served in WW1. This interest then led Janet to do many walking the battlefield tours with her husband. In April 2013 she discovered this website and volunteered to help. Janet believes that there are lots of stories still to be told, most of them very sad but at the same time they are a fascinating insight into the men, their families, what they did and where they came from.
(This post has been visited 108 times in the last 90 days)
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- In the shade of a stately oak tree I found a man of the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment. He had been dead for hours. Around him all was still as the tombs. In his hands, were tightly clenched three photos – one of a woman about 30, and the others of a little girl about three, and a baby of a few months. Beside him lay a tress of bright golden hair, and down his grimy cheeks tear-tracks were to be seen like ruts in a countrylane after heavy rains. Account of a R.A.M.C soldier - December 1914
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