Thomas HOUGH
Rank: Private
Number: 8091
Unit: 2nd Battalion CHESHIRE REGIMENT
Date of Death: 25 May 1915
Cemetery: Menin Gate Memorial, Ieper, Belgium

Nothing is known for certain about Thomas Hough's life. Regimental records indicate he was born in Heaton Norris and the family history website, CheshireBMD, does record the birth of a boy of this name in 1887.

Thomas's service number also indicates he was either a regular soldier or an ex-regular who was recalled as a reservist when war was declared in August 1914. The 2nd Cheshires had been in India for several years and arrived back in Britain on Christmas Eve. The men only time for four days leave before they had to return to camp to prepare to go to the Western front on 16 January 1915.

The 2nd Cheshires suffered many casualties during a German attack on 8 May, described here, and Thomas seems to have been fortunate in escaping injury. The Battalion was then withdrawn to rest billets to recuperate and receive troop replacements. On the 22nd, they moved forward to positions at Brandhoek, some 6 kilometres west of the town centre of Ypres (now Ieper), but still some way behind the front line.

In the early hours of 24 May, the Battalion was ordered forward to positions south of Ypres to retake positions which had just been captured by the Germans. The Regimental History records "They reached a point east of Vlamertinghe and began to prepare their mid-day meal. Unfortunately they were ordered forward before they could eat it. All the Battalions of the 84th brigade were very weak, having been only partially made up to strength with drafts of young officers and raw men.... What men they had were immature, inexperienced and untrained and the officers were in much the same state. There were few NCOs. All ranks lacked training and discipline.......The actual attack started at 5pm. There had been no chance of cooking food and the men were all tired and famished, besides being without experience. Direction and cohesion were soon lost but a few men got within 200 yards of the German line and dug themselves in." The Battalion's War Diary records that they were subjected to a "withering shell fire" whilst advancing.

The Cheshires held the position until they were relieved at 11pm on 25 May. In the preceding 24 hours, the Battalion had suffered nearly 300 casualties - killed, missing or wounded. Thomas was amongst the dead, along with William Wood and James Randall. None has a known grave.

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