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Thomas Henry Maxfield was born in Birmingham on 2nd October 1884. His parents were John and Elizabeth (nee Simpson).

At the time of the 1891 census, Thomas was 6 years old and living with his family at 28 Barker Street, Birmingham. His parents were originally from Sheffield, his father was now employed as an electro-plate worker in Birmingham.

Thomas was their forth child; he had two brothers;  Walter (1874 – 1934) and John (b. 1877); and three sisters, Alice (b. 1882), Catherine (b. 1890) and Lizzie (1892 – 1968). Another sibling named Thomas had died in infancy in 1876.

By the time of the 1911 census Thomas, Catherine (Kate) and Lizzie (Elizabeth) were boarding with their sister Alice and her husband Joseph Porter at 117 Hingeston Street, Birmingham. Thomas was working as a cycle maker.

On 31st August 1914, Thomas enlisted in the Territorial Force. He joined the Royal Warwickshire Regiment in Birmingham as a Private with the number 2426, although he was quickly transferred across to the Army Cyclist Corps probably due to his previous profession.

At his enlistment medical the doctor recorded that he was 5ft 7.5in tall and weighed 150lbs. He was 28 years old and had given his occupation as being  a cycle finisher.

On 30th March 1915,Thomas sailed for France with the Cyclists. At some point later he was transferred to the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment joining their 10th (Service) Battalion with the number 33859. During his time in France he was promoted to Corporal.

On 20th September 1915 Thomas had an operation on both of his legs. This was due to varicose veins that were causing him pain. He returned to the UK for the operation and transferred to the 3rd (Reserve) Battalion for administrative purposes.

By February 1916 Thomas was still convalescing and hadn’t returned to France. On 20th February 1916 he married Lilian Mary Diwell at St. Michael’s Church, Wood Green, Middlesex. They had a son, Frederick Thomas Maxfield that same year. In 1919 they had a second son, whom they named Walter and in 1921 a third son they named John (after his brothers).

It is not known exactly when in 1916/17 that Thomas returned to the front, but it wasn’t too long before he would be back in Blighty again.

On 24th April 1917 Thomas was admitted into the 3rd Northern General Hospital in Sheffield. He spent 48 nights in hospital due to sustaining a gunshot wound to his left hand which was becoming septic and painful. This resulted in him losing the tip of his little finger. He was discharged ‘fit’ on the 13th June.

In July 1917 Thomas’ name was published in the London Gazette. He had been awarded the Military Medal for Bravery in the field. This gazette covered Arras in early-April 1917 which would coincide with Thomas sustaining the wound to his hand.

The following transcription of the 10th Battalion War Diary shows their part at Arras;

Arras – 10th / 11th April 1917

During the night, orders were received that the L.N.Lancs were to continue the advance and attack at 05:00hrs going through East Lancs and attacking the trenches, having as our objective the ‘Green Line’ and in particular the wood (Tilloy).

Arras – 11th April 1917 – 05:00hrs

The Battalion having previously got into position for such advance, almost immediately came into full view of the enemy and was met with very heavy machine gun and shell fire.

Arras – 11th April 1917 – 05:30hrs

We received orders not to advance until barrage opened. By this time, we had carried by assault, the enemy trench in front (east of Sunken Road) and were establishing ourselves in shell holes 100 yards further east.

It was at this time that Captain Peskett, 2nd Lieutenant Ibbotson and  2nd Lieutenant Goodman were killed.

During this assault, we suffered very heavy casualties and were being enfiladed from Monchy Le Preux. The right flank, perceiving that they were in the air and appreciating the fact that if it remained as such, there was a likelihood of their being outflanked, boldly determined to risk all and assaulted a small trench running southwards from Cambrai Road in the direction of Guemappe and about 30 yards east of Sunken road before mentioned.

A tank apparently also appreciating the situation in a like manner, came to their aid.

On obtaining possession of the trench, Corporal Leonard and Lance Corporal R. Dinwoodie and six men were all that was left. These eight men boldly bombed along the trench southward killing more than a dozen Bosche, taking three prisoners and found themselves in complete possession. To their almost surprise, seven Bosche officers miraculously appeared apparently from nowhere. This was not a time to stand on ceremony, whereupon the officers suffered the same fate as their men. Two machine guns were captured in this gallant assault, but as the new garrison were so weak in numbers and fearing that they might eventually be in their turn evicted, they blew them up.

These men retained possession of this trench as did also Captain Gravett, ably assisted by Second Lieutenant Deacon (being the only two officers now left) and CSM Webster with sixty men, made themselves masters of the situation of the corresponding trench running northwards from the Cambrai Road. Here the garrison remained throughout the day, although there were signs of the enemy massing for a counter attack from the south.

It was about this time that Second Lieutenant Parker died after being badly wounded.

The Commanding Officer and Adjutant, having collected enroute stragglers of all Battalions to the number of about fifty, arrived on the scene. By this time, and with the assistance of the these reinforcements, Captain Gravett was the complete master of the situation. From this time onwards, reinforcements of officers and men from other Battalions kept arriving.

Arras – 11th April 1917 – 13:50hrs

The Commanding Officer sent in a report to the General informing him that the situation had improved considerably and he had made plans for bombing parties to proceed along both sides the Cambrai Road and to attack the enemy trench after nightfall, which was about 300 yards in front of our line, as it was not deemed advisable at the moment to advance further, knowing full well that we were well in advance of all troops on our right and left, besides which in our present position we had command of a good field of view.

During this period Second Lieutenant Deacon received two wounds, but would not desert his Captain or his men.

About three hours after entering the trench, some of the 3rd Dragoon Guards, acting as Infantry, came up on their left. This gave them some breathing space.

During this time men of the East Lancs and 10th L.N.Lancs oozed from shell holes and thickened the line of fire to our front line and could also enfilade the enemy on our right where the troops on that flank would advance further.

Arras – 11th April 1917 – 17:00hrs

We received orders that we would be relieved at 18:30hrs and immediately informed Captain Gravett to hold himself in readiness to be relieved. This relief was not completed until 01:00hrs. The men being in a very exhausted condition withdrew to Tilloy where we spent the remainder of the night.

Tilloy Wood – 12th April 1917 – 08:00hrs

Roll Call. Only a few of the brave fellows left. Our loses were estimated at 13 Officers and 286 men. That is over 60% of our fighting strength.

The London Gazette showing Thomas being awarded the Military Medal;

maxfieldmm

Thomas was discharged due his wounds on 1st April 1919 and was given the Silver War Badge number 470613. Thomas filed for a medical pension as the varicose veins and gunshot wound had left him with a 20% disability, and this was deemed to be attributable to his military service. Thomas attended medical appointments in Birmingham up until November 1921 when it was deemed his varicose veins had passed. His hand had healed and caused him no trouble.

Thomas Henry Maxfield’s death was registered in Birmingham in September 1924. He was 39 years old.

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Paul McCormick

Paul McCormick is the creator and administrator for the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment website. Since 2010 he has been researching the soldiers that served during the First World War and sharing their stories on his website. You can contact Paul through the website 'Contact Me' page or on Twitter and Facebook.
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2 Responses to 33859 CPL. T. H. MAXFIELD. L.N.LAN.R

  1. Maureen Cate says:

    How wonderful to find this information. The Lilian Mary Diwell that he married in 1916 was my aunt!I am currently trying to solve a mystery about her and this entry has certainly given me some additional data.

    Thank you!

    • Tony Maxfield says:

      Lilian Mary Diwell was my grandmother, Maureen. It would be nice to know more about you. I have a fairly substantial family tree on Ancestry.

      Tony Maxfield

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