Thomas Edward GUNTRIPP
Rank: Private
Number: 31522
Unit: 1/4th Battalion King’s Shropshire Light Infantry
Date of Death: 4 November 1918
Age: 19
Cemetery: Ors British Cemetery, Nord, France

Thomas was born in Stretton, Staffordshire. He was the son of Thomas and Clara who, in 1901, were living at 11 Lansdown Terrace, Horninglow, Burton on Trent. Thomas had a younger sister - Gertrude, then aged just 10 months. Thomas, senior, worked as a railway guard and, after leaving school, Thomas also went to work for the railway. When he joined the army, he was working at Cheadle Heath station and lived nearby at 51 Myrtle Street.

Thomas was, almost certainly, conscripted into the army when he became 18. He was assigned to a Training Reserve Battalion and allocated 4/2205 as his service number. When he finished training, he was reassigned to the Shropshires.

By the beginning of November 1918, the German Army was retreating on an almost daily basis, but was still fighting every inch of the way. Throughout October, the Shropshires had been away from the front line but, on 3 November, the Battalion's War Diary records that they "advanced to high ground south west of Jenlain. Came under heavy shell fire and had to advance under constant machine gun fire." 8 men had been killed. The German rearguards were holding a line west of the river between Jenlain and Wargnies-le-Grand and, at 6am on the 4th, the Battalion attacked through Jenlain. The War Diary indicates that they incurred many casualties just east of Jenlain. Nine men are known to have been killed including George Seamark and Thomas. And it is probable that Frederick Sanders was another casualty sometime over these two days.

His officer later wrote "He was a machine gunner, a most excellent man on the gun; a hard conscientious worker and popular with the platoon, so cheery always. His death is a great loss to the Company. He was buried in the Cemetery at Jenlain, a village near Cambrai. I hope you will accept my very deep sympathy in your great loss."

After the Armistice, it was a regular occurance for the bodies of men who had been buried in small front line burial areas to be concentrated into larger cemeteries for ease of upkeep by the War Graves Commission. This is must have been what happened to Thomas' body, although it is somewhat surprising as 18 burials from the November fighting still remain in the village churchyard at Jenlain.

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