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harrison2Thomas was born in Preston in 1891 the son of William Thomas and Mary Harrison (nee Topping). Thomas had four other siblings, Joseph (1893), John (1894), George (1896-1897) and James (1899).

In 1901 the family were living in Golbourne Street in Preston, Thomas`s father was employed as an Iron Turner.

Thomas`s mother Mary died in 1906 and his father remarried to Mary Ellen Beetham in 1907, Mary Ellen had also been widowed.

In 1911 Thomas was living at 17 Albyn Street East in Preston with his father, stepmother and his three brothers, Joseph, John and James. Thomas was working as a plain cloth weaver in a local mill. Thomas Beetham, Mary Ellen`s son from her previous marriage was also living with them. Three other people were also boarding with the family, Edith and Nellie Whittaker both described as nieces and a William Whittaker aged 80.

Thomas went to enlist on 21 September, 1914 at the Preston Recruiting Office. He had left his job in the cotton mill and confirmed that he was now employed by the GPO in the Telegraphic Engineers Department in Preston. At his medical inspection he was recorded as 5`5” tall with a 34” chest, he had normal vision and his physical development was good.

He was allocated the service number 2684 which changed to 200684 in January, 1917 and he was posted to the 4th Battalion.

On the 23 October, 1915 Thomas married Annie Holland at St. Matthews Church in Preston.

He was appointed Lance Corporal (paid) on 19 May, 1915 and then further promoted to Corporal on 15 September, 1915.

On the 9 July, 1917 he got himself into a spot of bother while the Battalion were training at Park Hall Camp in Shropshire for:-

  • Breaking out of the Barracks
  • An act to the prejudice of Good Order and Military Discipline
  • Conduct to the prejudice of Good Order and Military Discipline

For this he was awarded 28 days Field Punishment No.2 and was also reduced to the ranks.

Thomas sailed for France on 21 August, 1917 and a week later he was posted into ‘A Company’ of the 2/4th Battalion, joining them in the field on 30 August.

Just four days later on 4 September, 1917 Thomas was wounded in action and was sent via 54 Casualty Clearing Station to 39 Stationery Hospital arriving there on the 6 September. His injuries were described as “shell shock wound”. The Medical Officer reported that Thomas had received “direct exposure to gases generated by the explosion of a heavy “Minnie” near No. 19 Post, Support Line L1 Pinetti Sector on date named”.

He went on to explain further that “This man was partially buried and appears to have been struck by a large mass of clay. It is reported that an Officer observed the aforementioned referred to before the man left the line. This man was nearer to the burst than others less affected.”

Thomas eventually recovered enough to re-join his Battalion on 30 September, 1917. A couple of weeks later he was appointed Lance Corporal (unpaid).

On the 6 October, 1917 Annie and Thomas`s first and only child was born, a daughter they named Hilda.

Three weeks later on 26 October, 1917 Thomas was killed in action at the Second Battle of Passchendaele. The Battalion had suffered severe losses with a total of 358 men killed, wounded or missing.

The following report appeared in the local paper a short while later.

harrison1

There is no record of whether any of Thomas`s personal effects were returned to his wife Annie in Preston.

Thomas was awarded the British War and Victory Medals which his wife Annie signed for. Thomas`s body was never recovered and so his name was recorded on the Tyne Cot Memorial to the Missing in Belgium.

Rank: Lance Corporal
Service No: 200684
Date of Death: 26/10/1917
Age: 26
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 2nd/4th Bn.
Memorial: TYNE COT MEMORIAL

Janet Davis

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.
Janet Davis

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