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Thomas William Ryan was born in Preston on the 24th June 1882 to boot and shoemaker William Ryan and Bridget Coates (nee Birmingham). Bridget was a widow when she married William Ryan in Preston in the September quarter of 1881. Her first marriage to Thomas Coates in 1875 ended when Thomas died in 1878 at the age of 26. Bridget and her first husband had a daughter Mary Jane who was born in 1878 but sadly she also died that same year.

Thomas was the eldest of four children born to William and Bridget, the others being; Mary (1884), Margaret Ann (1885) and Frederick Lewis (1888). After their marriage William and Bridget went to live at 2 Cumberland Street in Preston but by 1901 they had moved to 47 Atkinson Street which is where they remained for a number of years. In 1901 Thomas was employed as an iron moulder and his two sisters Mary and Margaret both worked in a cotton mill.

On the 6th September 1902 Thomas married Jane Alice Ramshead in St. Ignatius`s Roman Catholic Church in Preston. The couples` first child, a son William Henry was born in 1904 but sadly he died not long afterwards. The 1911 Census shows Thomas and Jane living with Thomas`s parents in Atkinson Street and by now they also had three more children; Thomas Ignatius (1905), Florence Edith (1908) and Frederick Charles (1910). Thomas was still employed as an iron moulder and was working for Messrs. Dilworth & Carr in Preston. His two sisters Mary and Margaret were also still living at home with the family and they both worked in the Tulketh Mill as cotton rovers.

Thomas and Jane`s fifth child, another son Sidney Leo was born in December 1912. After the outbreak of war Thomas enlisted into the 4th Battalion of the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment at Preston. Although the exact date is unknown due to his service papers not being available a newspaper report does state that he enlisted in November 1914. He was issued with his original number of 2291 which would later be changed to 200568.

Thomas sailed to France on the 4th May 1915 with the 1/4th Battalion and it seems he was wounded in the shoulder on the 15th June 1915 during the Battalion actions at Festubert and was subsequently shipped back to England for treatment.

After his family had been informed they posted the following photograph in the local paper;

200568 Sergeant Thomas William Ryan

Having recovered from his injuries Thomas returned to the 1/4th Battalion in France sometime after January 1916. In the December quarter of 1916 Jane Ryan gave birth to another son and he was named William Henry.

Thomas was still with the 1/4th when on the 17th July 1917 he was wounded for a second time during the Third Battle of Ypres. There is no other information on what his wounds were or whether he had to return to England again for treatment.

During his military service Thomas attained the rank of Sergeant and the Battalion War History also records that he was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal in 1918.

On the 20th April 1918 the Lancashire Evening Post reported on the tragic death of Thomas and Jane`s eleven year old daughter Florence Edith;


“An inquest was held at the Preston Infirmary this afternoon, on the body of Florence Edith Ryan (11), 12 Atkinson Street, Preston – The Mother stated that at about 8.40am yesterday she went into the yard, and, hearing screams, returned to find her daughter`s clothing in flames. She endeavoured to smother the flames with a raincoat, but the girl broke away and rushed into the street, where a neighbour put out the flames. Deceased was taken to the Infirmary, where she died – A verdict of “Accidental death” was returned”.

Sergeant Thomas William Ryan was discharged from the Army in February 1919 and returned to his home in Atkinson Street. After the war Thomas was awarded the 1915 Star, British War and Victory Medals to go with his Meritorious Service Medal.

Thomas and Jane had another son born in the December quarter of 1919 (died 1945) and he was followed by a daughter Gladys in 1921.

Jane Alice Ryan died in 1949 and Thomas passed away in 1969 in Preston.

Janet Davis
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