Rank: Bombardier
Number: 705651
Unit: C Battery, 211th Brigade ROYAL FIELD ARTILLERY
Date of Death: 28 March 1918
Age: 29
Cemetery: Doullens Communal Cemetery Extension No. 1, Somme, France

Thomas and Margaret Hallworth are thought to have married in the Disley area in 1877 and would have six children together. All four of their sons would serve in the War but only Harry would come home. John was the first to be killed in June 1917. Only nine months later, Thomas succumbed to wounds he received probably the same day. Only five months later, the postman would again call at Ivy Cottage, High Lane, with news that the eldest son, Herbert, was missing in action. His body was never found.

The family had moved from Disley in about 1882 and had lived at Ivy Cottage for many years and Tom had been born in the area. All of Tom’s social life centred around the village. He was the Secretary of the Cricket Club and a member of the Conservative Club’s Committee. He was also a member of the Orchestral Society. He worked as a teacher for Manchester City Council’s Education Committee (and is commemorated on the Committee’s entry in the Manchester City Battalions Book of Honour).

211th Brigade was a pre-War Territorial unit of the Artillery and Tom’s original service number, 1588, suggests that if he wasn’t also a pre-War member, then he joined up soon after War was declared in August 1914.

On 21 March 1918, the Germans launched their long-awaited spring offensive. Its strength and ferocity took even the best prepared British defenders by surprise. Within hours, the front line had been overrun along many miles and the British were fighting a desperate retreat. Tom and his comrades were not in action that day and were being held in reserve. Two days later, the fighting started to reach their position.  The German advance continued and, by the 27th, the Brigade was in position near to the village of Bucquoy.

At 6.55am, the infantry holding the front line felt threatened and signalled for urgent artillery support. This was given immediately and there was almost instant retaliation from the German artillery which heavily bombarded the front line. The Germans followed this up with a very strong infantry attack which continued throughout the afternoon. Between 11am and 2.30pm, the artillery positions were heavily shelled and this may be when Tom was wounded.

The British had fought off the enemy attack but the Germans resumed their shelling of the front line the next morning. The men of 211th Brigade had now properly got the range of the German positions in this sector and were able to start a slow and methodically accurate shelling. However, the Germans were managing to break through the now ragged front line. Just after 1.30pm, a large party of Germans got round near the gun positions held by Tom and his mates in “C” Battery. They attacked the Tommies with grenades and it seems most likely that this will have been when Tom suffered the wounds from which he would die later in the day. He was evacuated from the gun positions to a field hospital some 15 miles to the rear, at Doullens where army surgeons will have done all they could for him but without success.

Further information about Tom and his two brothers, can be found in the book “Remembered” by P Clarke, A Cook and J Bintliff.

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