Thomas MANNION
Rank: Private
Number: 27618
Unit: 7th Battalion SOUTH WALES BORDERERS
Date of Death: 18 September 1918
Age: 20
Cemetery: Doiran Military Cemetery, Greece

Little is known about Thomas. He was born in Stockport, the son of Michael and Ann. The 1901 Census records the family living at 9 Walker Street and he was the youngest of seven children. After the War, Mr & Mrs Mannion lived at 6 Jacques Street.

Apart from a few short weeks in France, the 7th Battalion of the Borderers spent its War in the Salonika theatre of Northern Greece, arriving there in October 1915. They would face the Bulgarian army for the next three years. Thomas' medal entitlement records list no date when he went abroad, in itself confirming that it was after the end of 1915. He will have joined as one of draft of replacement troops. Conditions for the men were awful and, for every man killed in action, three died of disease. Thomas was, however, one of those killed.

Every Battalion of the army was required to maintain a War Diary and these are now kept at the National Archives at Kew. As with other men researched for this project, an attempt has been made to try to establish the circumstances of how he died. However, the War Diary for September 1918 is missing from its file at Kew and it is not possible to provide much detail.

The general histories of the War record that the day he was killed (and the following day) have the official designation of being the Battle of Doiran, just about the final major Allied assault on the Bulgarians before an Armistice was signed on 30 September. It was a disaster.

The plan was a frontal assault on "Pip Ridge" a heavily defended mountain ridge. The assault would be led by the 12th Cheshires, including many other Stockport men.  They were cut to pieces. Meanwhile, Thomas and the other men of the Battalions making up the Army's 67th Brigade were attacking towards the stronghold of Grand Couronne. An article in the magazine "I was There", published in 1938, written by an unnamed officer, describes the attack. Firstly a Battalion of Welsh Fusiliers had attacked, followed by the 11th Battalion, the Welsh Regiment. "who were also compelled to retire fighting. For a time, however, a few of the enemy's trenches, full of dead or dying men, remained in our possession. A third Welsh battalion was offered up, to perish, on that awful day. The 7th South Wales Borderers nobly stormed up through the haze of battle until they had come near the hills of The Tassel and The Knot, Then, all at once, the haze lifted, and they were left exposed in the open to a sweeping and overwhelming fire. Melting away as they charged, a party of Welshmen ran up the slopes of Grand Couronne itself and fell dead among the rocks. Of the whole battalion, only one officer and eighteen men were alive at the end of the day. All night, unheard in the tumult of a new bombardment, wounded men were crying on the hillsides or down in the long ravines."

Although casualties had been heavy, the above account grossly exaggerates the number of deaths, in saying that only 19 lived through the day. Thomas was one of 78 to be killed. They will have attacked several hundred strong (a full strength unit numbered nearly 1000). Many, of course, would have been wounded but lived to see the end of the fighting here at the end of the month.

   
           
   
     
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