Thomas Blackshaw MATHER
Rank: Private
Number: 4254
Unit: 1/9th (Highlanders) Battalion ROYAL SCOTS
Date of Death: 24 August 1916
Age: 24
Cemetery: Ploegsteert Memorial, Hainaut , Belgium

Tom was the youngest son of Richard Mather, landlord of the Commercial Hotel in Stockport. Tom's parents are thought to have divorced and Mrs Mather had remarried - to a Major Rawlinson, The Grove, Shaw Heath, who raised Tom as his stepson. There were two older brothers - Dick and Eddie.

Tom worked for the Manchester and Liverpool District Bank until he enlisted into the army. At the time, he was living in Congleton and enlisted there.

After he had been killed, a friend wrote home "Almost immediately after writing my last letter, we were warned to go up to the line again, where we spent another four days in the trenches. I am sorry to say that these were four too many for Tom Mather, as he went west on the first day, August 24. I have not his mother's address so you might convey my deepest sympathy through the Sprostons. He was hit in the head with shrapnel and I am told he never regained consciousness, so he did not suffer."

Whilst his friend may have accurately described how Tom met his death, the Battalion was actually away from front line duty from the middle of August until the end of September. It's War Diary records that, on the 24 August, it was in billets at the French town of Armentieres. The men undertook training and also provided working parties (in effect working as labourers). Perhaps the friend was hoping to convey an impression that Tom had met a death in combat rather than, as probably happened, being killed by a stray shell.

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