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Thomas Ainsworth was born in Sabden, Blackburn in 1875. His parents were John Ainsworth (1836 – 1908) and Lettice (nee Whittaker) (1837 – 1879).

Thomas was married to Lily (nee Ashworth) and they were living at 9 Walter Street, Brierfield. The couple had married at Nelson on 19th October 1895 and had a son named William. They had a second child that unfortunately hadn’t survived childhood.

On 18th August 1914, Thomas enlisted as a Special Reserve soldier at Burnley and joined the 3rd (Reserve) Battalion of the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment with the number 2835. He had previously served with the 2nd Battalion with the number 3714 before purchasing his discharge. At the time of his re-enlistment he was 39 year 240 days old and had been working as an overlooker in a cotton mill.

During  his first term of service he had been promoted to Corporal, thus following his re-enlistment he immediately assumed the same rank. The following month he was appointed acting Serjeant.

Thomas wrote to his wife when he received the news he was to depart for the Front;


Expect my bag home; I am for the draft… Pray for me, dear. I have put all my bits of odds and ends in the bag, and my fountain pen, for you, my dear. I hope to see you again, if not on earth, in heaven. Praise the Lord that promise. The Lord that shielded me in Brierfield will shield me in France… God bless and keep you all from harm.

On 4th January 1914 Thomas was transferred to the 1st Battalion and sailed to France to join them in the field. He wrote to his wife;

..to Lil, my true, dear wife… If we do not see each other again you will be able to say I did my duty.

On 12th January 1915 the 1st Battalion War Diary records ‘360 men and 3 officers joining’ which included Thomas.

Acting Serjeant Thomas Ainsworth was killed at Beuvry just 14 days later, 26th January 1915.

1st Bn. War Diary: 26th January 1915

At BEUVRY. A quiet night for us but heavy and continuous firing in the direction of GIVENCHY. The companies were re-allotted to billets in the village on account of the fact that the Germans had shelled it the day before.

At 9.30hrs, orderly room was being held in ‘D’ Companies billets in a paved yard surrounded by buildings. It was a particularly large orderly room on account of yesterday’s being interrupted by our sudden move from BETHUNE.

A high explosive shell falling almost perpendicularly struck the yard in the midst of us and detonated with great violence. The havoc was awful.

2/Lt G. E. Bunderkin was killed. Lieut J. G. Halstead wounded (in legs and arm). 2/Lieut M E Callard very seriously wounded in both legs.

Sergt. Major T. Hodgson, Sergt. Veacock, Sergt. Haggerty, Coy Sergt. Major Marsh, Coy Sergt. Major Melia and seven other ranks were killed on the spot. There were eighteen wounded, one of whom Coy Sergt. Major Custis died of wounds the same day.

This is a terrible disaster and a very severe blow to the Battalion. We all regret the death of 2/Lt. Bunderkin was a most reliable officer and Sergt. Major Hodgeson particularly.

These were all highly experienced men, three of whom had previously been awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal for acts of Gallantry in the field.

Second Lieutenant GEOFFREY ERIC BURDEKIN (Sherwood Foresters (Notts and Derby Regiment) attached LNL)
1481 Corporal WALTER BROWN
2338 Corporal JOHN CRAIG
8284 Company Serjeant Major SAMUEL JOHN CUSTIS
2526 Private FRANK CUSTY
7235 Lance Corporal EDWIN EDWARDS D.C.M
17592 Private WILLIAM GIBSON
4554 Regimental Serjeant Major THOMAS JOHN HODGSON D.C.M
1330 Company Serjeant Major FREDERICK WILLIAM MARSH D.C.M
533 Company Serjeant Major JOHN MELIA

Thomas Ainsworth was buried in Lievin Communal Cemetery.

Rank: Serjeant
Service No: 2835
Date of Death: 26/01/1915
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 1st Bn.

Paul McCormick
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