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Tom Greenhalgh was born on 4th March 1897 in Bolton to parents John a labourer in an iron foundry and Alice his wife, both aged 45 years on the 1901 census, they lived at 3 Hag End Brow, Haulgh, Bolton. They had two sons, James who was 8 and the younger Tom. By the time of the next census return of 1911 James had started work in the cotton industry and was employed as a weft warehouse man, Tom now aged 14 had started his career off in the news printing industry and worked as a Time office boy.

With the outbreak of the war Tom signed on with the 5th Batt L.N.L. Regt and is recorded as having attested on 30th March 1916 (service number 8168) , his occupation at this time was noted as a book binders apprentice, he was 5’7 5/8” tall and his age was given as 18 yrs and 240 days.
He is shown as home service from 30th March 1916 until 12th February 1917 when he sailed for France, for the next four months there is nothing of note happening within the battalion at this time, they were mainly engaged in working parties and were not involved in the operations in June.

His introduction to the western front and baptism of fire however began in July 1917 when the battalion moved to the front line on the Gheluvelt – Langemark system of trenches, in the Ypres salient. At 05.30 on 31st July they attacked the German trenches on a 350 yard frontage and managed to penetrate up to 400 yards capturing their first and second objectives taking many prisoners in doing so. Having reached their final objective, they eventually faced a counter attack and so the brigade fell back to a defensive line and consolidated.

During this period of 30th July – 4th August 1917 the battalion suffered 8 officer casualties and 150 O.R.’s killed, wounded or missing. The battalion being relieved, they moved back to St Omer for a much deserved rest and further training.

By mid-September they were back in Ypres and in particular working parties in their old area of the canal bank, still not safe, as enemy snipers were very active amongst the working parties during this time.

On 20th September 1917 the battalion was next engaged in the battle of Menin Road Ridge and the capture of Hill 37, they were supposed to be support troops on this occasion, but in the midst of battle found themselves in the forefront and taking the fortified hill. The battalion held out in their captured positions in the face of desperate counter attack until the 21st, when they retired.

By November that year they had moved south and were holding the line in the Honnecourt sector, of Cambrai. At 07.00 on the 30th November the vicinity of the town of Epehy was covered in thick fog and the battalion received a heavy bombardment, visibility being down to yards they were met by overwhelming numbers of enemy rapidly advancing on their positions. By 08.30 their signal lines had been cut and were being outflanked, their situation was precarious. The enemy had broken through their lines, and although they offered stiff resistance and inflicted severe casualties upon the enemy the battalion was cut off. They managed to hold off the enemy until 5am the next morning when being vastly outnumbered the battalion had been captured. Three officers had been wounded and 2 wounded and missing, the men had 2 killed 27 wounded and 384 NCO’s and men captured. This was a huge success for the enemy who shipped off the captured British to various German POW camps and would see out the duration of war in Germany until repatriation in 1919.

Tom Greenhalgh however had managed to avoid capture here he regained British lines to continue his service.

In late September 1918 the battalion was at Novevil and had marched to be part of the reserve brigade to Queant, Proville and the Hindenburg Line.

On 30th September they moved to the forward areas at 04.50hrs in the Proville sector. The strength of the battalion at this time is stated as 35 officers and 805 other ranks.

At 17.44 hrs on the 1st October 1918 the enemy attacked from Proville, the attack was regarded as unsuccessful in that they did not capture the British lines, but left behind 21 enemy prisoners. The cost to the battalion was high, they had 7 officer casualties, 3 killed and 4 wounded, with 23 other ranks killed and 110 wounded with 18 missing and 3 wounded and missing.

It was during this attack that Pte Tom Greenhalgh again witnessed his friends and comrades being killed and wounded and when he too received a gunshot wound to the left thigh by the enemy. This put him out of action and eventually being evacuated as a casualty was taken to hospital where he was cared for, Toms’ war was over.

He was sent back to England to recover and was a patient of Warren Park Hospital in the countryside of Largs in Scotland.

Warren Park Hospital

This was a large convalescent home in peaceful surroundings to allow for recovery , in April 1919 he had his photograph taken in hospital ‘blues’ with the nurses and other soldier patients here, after a period of convalescence he returned to Bolton.

(L to R) E.Weldish (London) Nurse Stafford (Ireland) Tom Greenhalgh, Nurse McInnis (Australia) L.Blacklin (Burnley) and G Patter (Croydon) with dog Bellie. )

For his war service he was awarded the British war medal and the victory medal and also the silver war badge which was issued to WWI soldiers who had been honourably discharged due to wounds or sickness.

In 1924 Tom married Gertrude Lois Winstanley b. 3.6.1898 and they started a family. By 1939 they lived at 39 Leverhulme Avenue in Bolton and Tom had resumed his previous career and was a foreman for a printer and bookbinder, he died in January 1982.

Photos: courtesy of the daughter of Tom Greenhalgh, Mrs Doreen Newby.

Garry Farmer
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Garry Farmer

Garry's grandfather and great uncles served in the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment during WWI, 2 Gt uncles were KIA at Ypres and Mesopotamia. A regular worldwide battlefield visitor and exhibitor at the OMRS Convention he spent 36 years as a civil and RAF policeman and served on operations in Bosnia, Cyprus, Kenya, North, Central and South America.
Garry Farmer
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