Tom ADSHEAD
Rank: Private
Number: 17232
Unit: 7th Battalion NORTH STAFFORDSHIRE
Date of Death: 5 April 1916
Age: 23
Cemetery: Basra Memorial, Iraq

In the closing months of 1885, William Adshead married Frances Charlton at St Mark’s Church, Bredbury. They later lived at 4 Hempshaw Lane where William carried on his trade as a baker for the “two up, two down” house. Over the years, they had at least six children, all of whom were living at home when the Census was taken in 1901. Tom was then aged 8 and was the third child. His older siblings were William and Edith and the three younger children were Frances, Mona and Philip.

In later life, Tom found work further down Hempshaw Lane at the Hempshaw Brook Brewery belonging to Bell and Co and he was employed there until he enlisted into the army on 4 September 1914 – just a month after the declaration of War. He joined up at Weston-Super-Mare and was, possibly, on holiday there at the time. Tom was assigned to the North Staffordshires and undertook his military training in Hampshire. The newly formed 7th Battalion, now part of the Army’s 13th Division, went overseas in June 1915, going into action at Gallipoli at the beginning of July.

After the evacuation from the failed campaign, Tom and his comrades moved to Mesopotamia (modern day Iraq). The original invasion forces had met with initial success but the British troops had over-stretched themselves and were defeated early in 1916. The troops were forced into a retreat and took refuge at the city of Kut-al-Amara where they were besieged by the Turkish Army. Attempts to relieve the garrison had so far failed and a new strengthened force, including the 13th Division, was assembled.

On 2 April, the troops left camp, crossing the Tigris at dawn the next day. By 6.30pm, they had reached the front line positions opposite the enemy at El Hannah. British artillery had been shelling the Turks for several days and everything was ready for an infantry assault. The men rested the next day as they were tired from the long march and all had become thoroughly soaked during a thunderstorm.

Just before dawn on the 5th, the men went “over the top” only to find that most of the Turkish forces had secretly pulled back, leaving their front line trench only lightly garrisoned. Not surprisingly, the British troops captured the whole line with relative ease. In the excitement, the 7th Battalion advanced further than ordered and found itself in the midst of the British artillery barrage. Tom was one of 34 Staffords to be killed during the attack and from the “friendly fire”.

   
           
   
     
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