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Thomas McCue was born in 1898, he was the son of Patrick and Ann McCue, of 9 Peel Street, Preston, Lancashire.

On 19th January 1914, Thomas attested as a ‘Boy’ entrant into the 4th Territorial Battalion of the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment. He was only 16 years 5 months old at the time, and was employed at Margerison’s Soap Works, Leighton Street, Preston.

At his enlistment medical, he was described as being 5ft 1in tall with a 31in chest.

Due to his young age, Thomas spent most of his first three years working with the 42nd Provost Battalion, serving in the UK. His service number 1777.

Thomas began getting into trouble in late March 1915, he had three regimental entries for ‘improper behavior’ between 23rd and 25th of the month. During the months that followed, Thomas continued to mis-behave, the following charges were made;

  • 07/05/15 – Late on parade.
  • 11/06/15 – Using obscene language, disorder and conduct in company lines
  • 17/07/15 – Absent from 7AM parade.
  • 04/08/15 – Absent from 7AM parade.
  • 08/10/15 – Absent from defaulters from 9PM to 10PM.
  • 22/11/15 – Not complying with an order.
  • 04/02/16 – Absent from tattoo, till tattoo on 13/02/16 (9 days).
  • 10/05/16 – Absent from billets until 10:15PM.
  • 24/05/16 – Late on 7AM parade.
  • 26/05/16 – Absent from billets until 10:20PM.
  • 27/05/16 – Absent from 08:30PM until tattoo on 29/05/16 (49hrs).
  • 05/06/16 – Being in area out of bounds, not in possession of identity disc, being improperly dressed, disobeying an order and breaking out of barracks.

In 1917 when the Territorial soldiers were renumbered, he became 200402.

On 29th February 1917, Thomas sailed to France, joining the 10th (Service) Battalion in the field on 21st March 1917.

The following month, at Arras, Thomas was reported missing in action, later presumed dead.

The Battalion War Diary details the attack on Greenland Hill at Arras, during which Thomas lost his life;

27th April 1917 – Arras

During night moved to companies into Cuba (trench) and brought support companies into new trench in front of Clasp Trench. Attended conference at Brigade Headquarters.

Received orders to attack Greenland Hill at dawn next day. Made all the necessary arrangements and decided the Battalion should ‘go over’ in two waves. In the meantime getting my first wave which was already in Cuba out into the open about 100 yards in front, so as to get a good start and escape any enemy fire which might be brought to bear on it, my second wave remaining where it was.

28th April 1917 – Arras 

04:25hrs – Barrage opened, Battalion being already in position for attack. The enemy did not put up much of an artillery barrage so I immediately brought my second wave into the new trench.

04:27hrs – The Battalion attacked and reached a point where a trench had been begun by the enemy. By this time the Battalion had suffered heavily and one one officer (2nd Lt. Jones was left).

The Battalion immediately commenced to dig in into this newly begun trench as they were so heavily enfiladed with machine guns from the right flank (Chemical Works).

There were several batches of the Regiment still further advanced in shell holes. These wisely remained there all day, sniping and doing as much damage as the could. By the time the Battalion was dug in, between 50 – 60 were all that remained.

During the advance, a few of the East Lancs, Bedfords and Warwicks joined my Battalion and dug in with us.

 

Thoughts as to why the attack on Greenland Hill failed; Lt Col E. A Cameron, Officer Commanding 10th Bn LNL;

This attack on Greenland Hill once more failed although we did gain some ground. Undoubtedly the Chemical Works was the main reason for this failure, but I cannot help thinking that if my Battalion had been supported in a more determined manner, we might have got to the enemy’s trench, but they were so few in numbers they were killed or wounded.

There was a great delay and much confusion at the time of the start, amongst the supporting Battalion, which I myself witnessed and tried to rectify. I am afraid this delay was a great hamper to the leading Battalion as the wave which should have been the first evidently never started, or if it did, it didn’t support my Battalion. Only the second wave appears to have got through, so naturally, there was a gap between the front waves and the supporting ones. Still, on the whole, I am afraid the ‘right flank’ was the main reason for our failure.

mccue

 

In recognition of their late sons service, his parents received his British War Medal and Victory Medal, in addition to a memorial plaque and scroll. Private Thomas McCue is remembered on the Arras memorial.

Rank: Private
Service No: 200402
Date of Death: 28/04/1917
Age: 19
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 10th Bn.
Memorial: ARRAS 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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