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Thomas Herbert Gorst was born in Preston in 1895 to Henry Thomas and Mary Jane Gorst (nee Barnacle). Mary Jane was about 15 years younger than Henry and was originally from Warwickshire.

Henry`s first wife was Jennet Tully and they were married in St. Mary`s Church in Preston in October 1880 and they had four children before Jennet died in 1891; William James (1881-1882), Hannah (1883), William (1885) and James (1887).

Despite extensive searches, finding a marriage for Henry Thomas Gorst to his second wife Mary Jane Barnacle has so far proved elusive. However, the couple had four children together and they are all registered with the surname Gorst and the mother`s maiden name of Barnacle; Thomas Herbert* (1895), Henry (1896-1897), John (1897) and Henry (1904).

In 1911 the family was living at 164 St. Paul`s Road in Preston. Thomas`s father was a clerk of works on the railways, brother James was a carpenter and joiner, Thomas a `reacher in` at Wharton`s Mill in Ribbleton, John was a newsboy at Smith & Son and the youngest Henry was at school.

Thomas enlisted into the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment on the 15th June 1914 at Preston. He was 19 years old at the time and his height was 5`6”. He was posted to the 4th Battalion and allocated the service number 1944.

He signed his agreement to serve abroad in the event of a national emergency on the 7th August 1914 at Preston and then sailed to France as part of “A” Company of the 1/4th Battalion on the 4th May 1915.

Sadly, Thomas Herbert Gorst was another of the 1/4th Battalion men posted as missing on the 15th June 1915 after the Battalion had taken part in the `great bayonet charge` at Festubert.

The local paper the Preston Guardian reported extensively on the events of the 15th June 1915, extracts from letters sent by the survivors to their families appeared in the paper afterwards. One such letter mentions Thomas Herbert Gorst who is referred to as Bert Gorst in the article.

“Amongst the numerous cases of “reported missing” connected with the 4th LNL is that of Lance Corporal A. Fraser (A Company), one of the 2 sons of Mr. Harry Fraser, jeweller, Preston, now in the service.

In a letter to his parents, Private George Clarke states that he himself last saw L/Cpl Fraser when the latter bravely led a section down the communication trench into the firing line to establish a temporarily lost connection. He was afterwards seen along with Private Bert Gorst close to the German entanglements, both of them untouched”.

Thomas`s parents would have to wait for several months before being informed by the Authorities that for official purposes their son had died on or since the 15th June, 1915.

A newspaper article with a photograph of Thomas Herbert Gorst was printed in the local paper afterwards.

Gorst 1

Thomas was awarded the 1915 Star, British War and Victory Medals in recognition of his service for his country.

The burial return attached to Thomas`s details on the Commonwealth War Graves website notes that his body was found buried together with some other men in “that portion of the old trench line known as Old Man`s corner”. Their remains had been badly disturbed by shell fire.

Thomas`s remains were identified by his ID Disc, clothing and a badge. He was afterwards reburied in his own plot at Arras Road British Cemetery in Roclincourt.

His name is also recorded on the War Memorial in the Harris Museum and Art Gallery in his home town of Preston.

Gorst 2

Rank: Private
Service No: 1944
Date of Death: 15/06/1915
Age: 21
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 1st/4th Bn.

Janet Davis
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