Thomas GREGORY
Rank: Private
Number: 39313
Unit: 2nd Battalion SOUTH WALES BORDERERS
Date of Death: 15 October 1918
Age: 21
Cemetery: Dadizeele New British Cemetery, Moorslede, Belgium

In the closing months of 1893, Thomas Gregory, a brewer's labourer, married Annie Clent at Christ Church, Heaton Norris. She was 18 and he was 28. They are known to have had at least four children - all boys. Thomas was their third. When the census was taken in 1901, the family was living at 94 Short Street, Stockport (and later at 13 Harmer Street, Heaton Norris).

When Thomas enlisted into the army, he was assigned to the Monmouthshire Regiment and was given 3977 as his service number. It is not known when he transferred to the Borderers.

The men could not know it but, by the middle of October, there would only be another month of fighting before an Armistice was signed. Thomas and his mates undertook a relatively quiet tour of duty in the front line near Ledeghem and were relieved back to the reserve on the evening of the 13th. They got hot food, rations and supplies of water. They then moved to "jumping off" positions ready to resume the British advance. The attack started in the early afternoon but the men quickly came under very heavy machine gunfire and orders were given to break off the attack and wait for the artillery to bombard the Germans until the next morning.

At 8.15am the Battalion advanced again with the 1st Battalion, Border Regiment on their right. Their objective was the hamlet of Salines - to the north of the village of Gulleghem and now effectively incorporated into the village. The Germans quickly brought their own artillery and machine guns to bear and opened heavy fire. Particularly heavy fire came from Heule Wood to the left. As they past, "B" and "D" Companies found themselves being fired on from both front and rear. The men quickly diverted to attack the Germans in the Wood, rushing the machine gun posts and engaging in some fierce hand to hand combat.  

Battalion Headquarters had lost communication with the attacking groups and was only getting reports when wounded men made their way to the rear. However, support troops from other units now came forward the Borderers were able to overcome these defenders and pressed on to their objective along a nearby railway line.

In 2007, a Belgian resident of Gulleghem decided to research the attack which liberated his village. In the local archives, he discovered a document, written in Flemish, which recorded  the original burial places of the men killed in the attack. About 50 of them had been buried where they fell advancing through Salines or close by. Thomas had fallen near the house belonging to an Alphons Mareel on a street then called Bosbolletra.

(Author's note: As mentioned above, fighting alongside the Borderers was the 1st Battalion, Border Regiment. One of their casualties this day was my great uncle, Robert Brough. Robert was also killed in the fighting in Salines and was originally buried just 100 yards away from Thomas. They are closer now - buried in the same row of graves at Dadizele. My research into his death forms an article on this website:- http://www.hellfire-corner.demon.co.uk/jhbrough.htm. John Hartley)

   
           
   
     
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