Rank: Private
Number: 11705
Unit: 1st Battalion CHESHIRE REGIMENT
Date of Death: 29 April 1915
Age: 38
Cemetery: Menin Gate Memorial, Ieper, Belgium

Thomas originated from Crewe, the son of William and Elizabeth (nee Blackhurst). By the time of the Great War, William had died and Elizabeth had remarried – to a Mr Bagley.

It’s not known when Thomas moved to Stockport but, between April and June1899, he married Florence Campbell in the town. Between then and his enlistment into the army, in 1914, nothing is known of his life. He does not appear on the 1901 Census, although it is possible he was serving abroad as a regular soldier. His service number indicates he volunteered for the army within weeks of War being declared and will probably have gone to the front early in 1915, as one of the first replacements for the regular army soldiers who had already been killed on wounded.

The Cheshires had recently been on a tour of duty in the front line trenches and, on 25 April, had been relieved. Even though they had not been called on to go into action, they suffered casualties on a daily basis. They went into Brigade reserve dugouts at Zillebeke Lake (just to the south of Ypres – now Ieper), some little way behind the front line. About 5.30pm on the 29th, the dugouts were shelled by a heavy German gun to the south west. There were 26 casualties. 15 were wounded, but amongst the 11 dead were Thomas, Harry Bruckshaw and Thomas Dolan. None of the three has a known grave.

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