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Thomas Davies was born on the 18th October 1877 in the village of Higher Walton which is not far from Walton le Dale. His parents John and Ann Davies (nee Atkinson) married in All Saints Church in Higher Walton in 1870 and Thomas was one of five surviving siblings, the others being; Ann (1870), Robert (1871), Frances (1873) and John (1879). Early census, baptism and marriage records for the family show the spelling of their surname as Davis rather than Davies.

By 1901 Thomas had left home and was boarding at 169 Ribbleton Lane in Preston at the home of Richard and Sarah Jane Lloyd who ran a hatter and hosiery business. Thomas was employed as a coffin maker for Mr Adam Cartmell who was an undertaker on nearby New Hall Lane.

On the 27th June 1908 he married Alice Leeming in St. James` church in Preston and the 1911 Census records that the couple lived at 22 Russell Street and that Thomas was still making coffins for Mr. Cartmell the undertaker. The couple had three children, Annie was born in late 1911, John in 1913 and another daughter Alice arrived in 1915.

Thomas enlisted into the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment on the 8th December 1915 and was posted to the reserve with the number 5532 which would later be changed to 202513. He was mobilised on the 4th August 1916 and on the 23rd December of that year he sailed to France with a batch of reinforcements. On arrival he was posted to “C” Coy of the 1/4th Battalion joining them in the field on the 29th December 1916.

On the 10th May 1917 he was temporarily attached to 177th Tunnelling Company and stayed with them for a month before re-joining his battalion on the 11th June 1917. At the time 177th Tunnelling Company was engaged in mining activities on the Bellewaerde Ridge near Zillibeke.

Sadly, Thomas was killed in action in the attack on the 31st July 1917, the first day of the Third Battle of Ypres at Passchendaele.

At 03:30 hrs on 31st July 1917 the British opened up a heavy artillery barrage on the enemy. Later, the 1/4th Bn, part of the 164th Brigade were tasked to seize and secure the Gheluvelt-Langemarck line.

Midway into their advance towards the objective, casualties began to get particularly heavy, owing to enemy sniper fire, machine-gun fire and shelling from two sides. A number of Officers had also been killed. The Battalion continued to push forward and succeeded in securing their objective by 11:40 hrs. The line was held up until around 14:30 hrs, until the enemy successfully counter-attacked and forced the Brigade to fall back.

Casualties had been high, just over 50 men from the 1/4th Bn killed; and another 250 men were wounded or missing during the attack.

The following article was printed in the Preston Guardian not long after news of his death had reached his family in Preston.202513 Private Thomas Davies

Several personal items belonging to Thomas were later returned to his family, these included; letters, photographs, a pipe, pocket book, religious books, a pocket wallet, cigarette case, 1 card and his cap badge and Identity Disc.

As his body was never recovered from the battlefield the name of Private Thomas Davies was later recorded on the Menin Gate Memorial to the Missing in Ypres.

Rank: Private
Service No: 202513
Date of Death: 31/07/1917
Age: 39
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 1st/4th Bn.

Janet Davis
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