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Thomas Marquis Watson Latham was born in Preston to James and Jane Latham (nee Watson). James Latham was a farmer living in Goosnargh near Preston when he married Jane Watson in St. Mary the Virgin Church in Goosnargh on the 23rd November 1892. The couple had four children;

  • Millicent Alice (1893) born in Goosnargh
  • Eleanor Annie (1894-1894) only lived for 5 days, born Goosnargh
  • Mary Bazelia Gaskell (1895) born in Higher Walton near Preston
  • Thomas Marquis Watson (1897)* born in Preston

In the 1901 Census Thomas and his two sisters were living with their mother Jane at 240 St. Paul`s Road in Preston, Jane Watson is described as a widow at the time and was not in work. By 1911 the family had split up, Jane Watson was living at 49 Chaddock Street in Preston with her eldest daughter Millicent and appears to be renting out some apartments. Thomas and his other sister Mary Bazelia were living with their Uncle John Watson in Weeton with Preese near Kirkham. John Watson was also a farmer and in the Census fourteen year old Thomas and his sister are both described as servants.

Thomas eventually moved back in to Preston and went to work for Messrs. J S Walker & Sons a gentlemen`s outfitters on Fishergate in the town.

The following Christmas advertisement for J S Walker & Sons appeared in the local paper on the 12th December 1914.Latham 1

Thomas enlisted into the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment around the early part of 1915. He was living at 3 Lauderdale View on Fishergate Hill and was still working for the Walker family at the time. Thomas`s records have been lost but he embarked for France after January 1916 and later information suggests it may have been around June/July 1916. After his arrival in France he was posted to the 1st Battalion.

He had only been in France for approximately eight months when on the 13th February 1917 he was killed by a shell.

Extract from Battalion War Diary

3.2.17 – Battalion moved from Bresle to Mericourt sur Somme via Mericourt L`Abee and Cerisy. The coldest night experienced during the winter.

4.2.17 – Day devoted to cleaning up and feet washing according to the French method.

5.2.17 – Battalion moved into huts in Chuignes recently occupied by the French. On the march the Battalion was inspected by the French General commanding the 18th Corps.

6.2.17 – 11.2.17 – Battalion practised in new attack formations, specialist training etc., few fatigues. There was no shelling whilst Battalion was in Chuignes but there was a certain amount of aerial activity; a few bombs being dropped in the village close to the camp in the early morning of the 7th.

12.2.17 – 13.2.17 – Battalion moved into the line on the night of the 12th relieving the 2nd Royal Sussex Regiment. A very peaceful time with only three casualties.

A photograph of Thomas was published in the Preston Guardian after his family had been informed of his death.Latham 2

After his death Thomas was originally buried in Barleux French Military Cemetery No.2 but in 1922 his body was exhumed and then reburied in Tincourt New British Cemetery on the Somme.

Thomas was awarded the British War and Victory Medals in recognition of his service for his country. His name is also remembered on the Roll of Honour in the Harris Museum and Library in Preston.

Rank: Private
Service No: 29812  29813*
Date of Death: 13/02/1917
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 1st Bn.

* CWGC incorrectly gives his initials as J. M. W.  and his service number as 29812. Several records, including SDGW and his medal index card record his surname as Lathom.

Janet Davis
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One Response to 29813 PTE. T. M. W. LATHAM. L.N.LAN.R.

  1. Paul Bailey says:

    Charles Bailey, who I believe to be one of my great grandfathers, was killed on the same day as Pte Latham. Buried at Barleux and reburied at Tincourt. Given the lack of activity in the area at the time, I would imagine he was killed by the same shell.
    I find this all fascinating.
    Great to find the website – I’ll continue digging.

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