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Thomas Tinsley was born on the 17th March 1896 in Preston and baptised at All Saints Church on the 10th May 1896 the son of Robert and Jane Tinsley (nee Robinson). Robert and Jane married in St. Thomas`s Church in Preston on the 12th May 1894 and they went on to have four children, three of whom survived; Thomas (1896)*, John (1898), Richard (1902-1903) and Alice Ellen (1909).

Thomas and his younger brother John lived with their parents in Aughton Street in Preston in 1891 where their father Robert was employed as a cotton spinner and mother Jane was a cotton rover. Sadly, Robert Tinsley died in 1910 a year after his youngest child Alice was born. After her husband`s death Jane moved in with her mother Alice and stepfather John Monks living at 14 Aughton Street. Also in the household was Agnes Monks aged 21, Thomas Monks 19, Richard Monks 16 and John Monks aged 11. Fourteen year old Thomas Tinsley was a creeler in a cotton mill and his younger brother John was still attending school whilst also working part time in a local biscuit factory.

After the outbreak of war Thomas enlisted for 4 years into the Territorial Force, signing his papers on the 26th October 1914 at Preston. His original service number was 3057 which would later be changed to 200882. He confirmed that he was single and had no previous military experience and his home address was 23 Aughton Street in Preston. For official purposes Thomas named his mother Jane, brother John and his sister Alice of the same address as his next of kin. Thomas` medical inspection revealed that he was five feet six and three quarter inches tall and had a chest measurement of 35 inches.

On the 26th May 1915 Thomas was posted to the 42nd Provisional Battalion and six months later on the 19th November of that year he was appointed Lance Corporal. On the 11th January 1916 Thomas signed his agreement to serve abroad while he was in training at Herne Bay and the following month he was posted to the 3/4th (Reserve) Battalion. Two months later and having reverted back to the rank of Private Thomas sailed from Southampton on the 10th April 1916 with a batch of reinforcements, landing in Rouen the following day. After spending a week at the 55th Division Base Depot he joined the 1/4th Battalion LNL in the field on the 18th April 1916.

When Thomas joined the Battalion they were occupying a sector south of Arras, from Wailly to Bretencourt, the sector described in the War History as being fairly quiet. However, there had previously been heavy snow followed by a thaw and the trenches had become extremely wet. It was also noted that enemy aeroplanes were also frequent visitors to this particular area.

After being with the Battalion for just a couple of months Thomas was appointed Lance Corporal (paid) on the 6th June 1916.

On the 25th July 1916 the Battalion as part of the 55th Division proceeded south to play their part in the ongoing Battle of the Somme. By the 30th July the Division had taken its appointed place in the line opposite the village of Guillemont in preparation for an attack scheduled to take place on the 8th August. 

Battalion account of the actions 8th August 1916

After a night in bivouacs, preparations were made to go over the ground prior to an attack on GUILLEMONT on the 8th. The Battalion returned to the line that night and assembled in trenches east and west of the road which ran South from the east corner of TRONES WOOD, C Company being detailed to consolidate the right of the enemy line and D Company the left on the west side of GUILLEMONT. A and B Companies acted in conjunction with the 1/4th Royal Lancaster’s and the 1/8th Liverpool Regiments respectively.

The attack was not a success. The right was held up from the start by the switch line which had been reported by our patrol on the 6th, such report either having been overlooked or ignored, and the men had to fall back to the original line, though the 1/8th Liverpool’s went through the village on the left and D Company of our Battalion commenced to consolidate, but were driven off by the enemy coming from behind them and cutting them off from the Liverpool’s.

Considerable confusion was caused owing to the mist and the employment by the enemy of smoke bombs, the four platoons in the reserve not being called upon for this reason, though all their Officers were killed and they suffered many other casualties. The operation was a costly one. Nine other ranks were killed, 97 wounded and 107 reported missing; whilst of the Officers, Captain E.M. Rennard and Captain H. Lindsay were killed, Second Lieutenants O.H. Ducksbury and J.H. Holden missing (afterwards found to be prisoners of war) and Lieutenants de Blaby and A.T.D. Evans and Second Lieutenants E.L. Fairclough and T.A. Bigger wounded. Lieutenant Blaby died the following day.

Sadly, after the attack Thomas was one of the 107 men reported as missing in action.

The news that her son was missing prompted his mother to place the following request for any information on his whereabouts in the local paper, the Preston Guardian.200882 Lance Corporal Thomas Tinsley

In January 1917 the new style TF numbers came into force and as Thomas` fate had still not been confirmed by the Authorities he was allocated his new number of 200882.

Thomas` papers note that no personal effects were returned to his family in Preston. After the war his mother took receipt of her sons` 1915 Star, British War and Victory Medals to which he was entitled and she would also have received his Memorial Plaque and Scroll in recognition of his sacrifice for his country.

According to the CWGC record Thomas` body was recovered and originally buried in one of the smaller cemeteries on the Somme. However, on the 20th September 1920 his body, along with many others, was exhumed and reburied in Caterpillar Valley Cemetery, his body being identified by means of his Pay Book and Identity Disc.

Photograph taken July 2016

Photograph taken July 2016

Thomas` name is also included on the Roll of Honour in the Harris Library and Museum in his hometown of Preston. The original submission form is shown below.


Rank: Lance Corporal
Service No: 200882
Date of Death: 08/08/1916
Age: 20
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 1st/4th Bn.

Janet Davis
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