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Thomas Almond was born on 4 May 1894 in Leyland, and baptised at Leyland St Andrew’s on 25 May. His father was Thomas Almond (b. 1855 in Leyland), a general labourer. His mother was Ellen (maiden name not known, b 1869 in Rufford). According to the 1911 Census, Thomas and Ellen had 6 children but young Thomas was the only one to survive. Ellen died in 1902 so in 1911, the two Thomases were living at 24 Heaton Street, Leyland. Both of them were labourers, though later records say young Thomas was a bleacher and also worked for the Leyland and Birmingham Rubber Co.

Mr Thomas Almond of 24 Heaton Street, Leyland has received official intimation of the death in action in France on 18th November 1917, of his son Pte T. Almond, Loyal North Lancs. Regiment. He was 23 years of age and enlisted at the outbreak of war, previous to which he was employed at the Leyland and Birmingham Rubber Works. He attended Leyland St. John’s Church. CHORLEY GUARDIAN AND LEYLAND HUNDRED ADVERTISER – Saturday 15 December 1917

Tom enlisted in the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment on 7 January 1915. He was assigned service number 3558 and posted to 1/4Bn. After training, he landed in France on 10 March 1916 and joined his battalion in the field on 20 July 1916. In 1917, Tom was given a new-style service number, 201200.

From February 1916, 1/4Bn came under orders of 164th (North Lancashire) Brigade in 55th (West Lancashire) Division. In July 1916, 55th Division took its place in the line not far from Guillemont, in the Somme region, and they took part in the capture of that village (4-6 September) and also the capture of Ginchy (9 September). They saw further action at Flers-Courcelette (17-22 September) and Morval (25-28 September). They then moved north to Flanders.

The first half of 1917 was spent in the Ypres salient, where they had a comparatively quiet time, if being surrounded by enemy on three sides and under constant artillery fire could be described as quiet. They were then engaged in the opening phase of the Third Battle of Ypres, at Pilkem Ridge (31 July – 2 August). Between 30 July and 4 August, in the Division’s attack in the area of Spree, Pond and Schuler Farms, no fewer than 168 officers and 3384 men were killed, wounded or missing. The Division was withdrawn to Recques for re-fit and training on 7 August. About thisa time, Tom was allowed a period of leave back to England (25 August – 4 September). On 15 September, the Battalion returned to pretty well the exact position it had left the month before, under orders for the next phase of the offensive, the Battle of Menin Road Ridge (20 – 23 September). Casualties in this action were 127 officers and 2603 men, incurred in the heavy but successful fight for Gallipoli Farm, Schuler Farm and the Hanebeek. Relieved by 39th Division, the 55th moved out of the line from 22/3 September and proceeded to a very different area, south of Cambrai. They arrived at Lempire (20kms south of Cambrai) on 11 October 1917. Here they were in training and received a number of reinforcements so that by the end of the month the strength of the Battalion stood at 38 officers and 777 other ranks.

According to the Regimental History, on 17 November, the Battalion relieved another Bn in the Guillemont sector. At 5.30 in the morning the following day, the enemy opened a hurricane bombardment on their sector; out of 80 officers and men occupying the advanced posts only eight survived, the rest being killed and buried under the debris. Some 200 Germans entered the Battalion lines and began to work forward but they were held and eventually forced back, with 20 or more being bayoneted. Tom Alllison was killed in this action. He was 23 years old. The terror would continue for his mates who had to face the German counter-attack at Cambrai on 30 November – at least Tom was spared that.

Rank: Private
Service Number: 201200
Date of Death: 18/11/1917
Age: 23
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 1st/4th Bn.
Cemetery/memorial reference: Pier and Face 11 A.

Bill Brierley
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