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Thomas Holmes was born in the June quarter of 1898 in Preston to Thomas and Mary Ann Holmes (nee Rourke) and he was one of eleven children, seven of whom survived, the others being; Mary Ann (1889), Frederick (1891), Margaret (1895), twins, Florence and Lily (1897) and George (1900).

In 1901 Thomas and his family lived at 37 Brookhouse Street in Preston where his father was employed as a brick setter’s labourer. The family also had two lodgers, 48 year old widower James Scott and his 12 year old son Thomas. By 1911 the family had moved to 115 Inkerman Street and Thomas` father was working as a labourer for Mr. Topping at a builder`s merchants. Apart from twelve year old Thomas and his younger brother George who were both attending school, his elder siblings were all employed in cotton mills, Mary Ann and Fred had jobs at Mr. Leigh`s Brookhouse Mill, Margaret was at Eldon Street Mill and the twins, Lily and Florence at Arkwright`s Mill on Hawkins Street. Also listed as living with the family is a 5 year old boy named Fred Robinson and his relationship to Thomas and Mary Ann Holmes is described as a `son`. There was also another young lady staying with the family, 26 year old Alice Scott from Preston.

After he left school Thomas went to work as a weaver for Mr. Edward Healey at the Moor Hall Mill on Brook Street North. On the 9th October 1914 he gave up his job at the mill and presented himself at the recruiting office in Preston where he enlisted into the 4th Battalion of the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment and was issued with the service number 2843. His service papers state his `apparent age` as 19 years and 3 months old when in fact he had only turned 16 years old in the summer of that year. Thomas was still living at home with his parents at 115 Inkerman Street and for official purposes he named his father Thomas as his next of kin.

The 1/4th Battalion sailed for France on the 4th May 1915 but Thomas was held back, presumably because he was still only 16 years old at the time. However, having only just turned 17 years old Thomas embarked for France with a batch of reinforcements four months later on the 8th August 1915. After spending a couple of weeks at the Base Depot he was posted to the 1/4th Battalion along with a draft of 100 other ranks on the 22nd August whilst the Battalion was billeted in Aveluy, Thomas joining “B” Company.

Thomas and the other reinforcements did not have very long to wait for their first front line experience of the war, the Battalion leaving the billets in Aveluy to relieve the 2/5th Lancashire Fusiliers in the trenches around Authuille just six days after they arrived.

The Battalion remained in more or less the same area around La Boisselle and Authuille for a number of months and it was in this area that sadly on the 6th November 1915 Thomas Holmes was killed in action, he was just 17 years and 4 months old.

After his family had been informed of his death, the following announcement appeared in the Preston Guardian;2843 Private Thomas Holmes

A number of Thomas` personal effects were later returned to his family, these included;

  • 1 Identity Disc
  • 1 Scapular
  • Photographs and letters
  • 1 Rosary and 2 Crucifixes
  • Wallet and purse
  • 2 Prayer Books
  • 1 Ring

Seventeen year old Private Thomas Holmes was laid to rest in Aveluy Communal Cemetery Extension.

After the war Thomas` parents took receipt of his 1915 Star, British War and Victory Medals to which he was entitled. They would also have received his Memorial Plaque and Scroll in recognition of his sacrifice for his country.

Rank: Private
Service No: 2843
Date of Death: 06/11/1915
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 1st/4th Bn.

Janet Davis
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