Thomas Herbert BARRATT
Rank: Private
Number: 8503
Date of Death: 5 November 1914
Age: 37
Cemetery: Ploegsteert Memorial, Comines-Warneton, Belgium

As a younger man, Thomas had served for just over three years as a regular soldier with the Lancashire Fusiliers.He had been on the reserve list for eleven years when War was declared in August 1914. He was recalled to the colours and will have joined the Battalion, at Dover, within a couple of days.Thomas was the son of William Barratt, the secretary of Palmer Mills Ltd. Since his last taste of army life, he had returned to Stockport and had been working as the assistant engineer at the local mill of the Ring Spinning Company. He had also married and lived with his wife and young daughter at 39 Charlotte Street. British troops first engaged the German Army on 23 August at the Battle of Mons. Retreat followed for three days until the tired troops reached Le Cateau. The plan was to deliver a “stopping blow” to the Germans that would allow the British to withdraw in good order. The Fusiliers, part of the 4th Division, arrived in France in time to take part and marched straight to their fighting positions. Thomas will have taken part in this fighting and the subsequent battles of the early weeks of the War.By early November, the Battalion had found itself in what was proving to be a relatively quiet sector near Ploegsteert (close to the border between Belgium and France and known to the British Tommies as “Plug Street”). On 3 November, the Battalion’s War Diary records they were in trenches at St Yves and that casualties were mainly being caused by enemy shell fire. Two men were killed that day. The entry for the 4th reads “As yesterday, Killed one. Wounded 6 men”. On the day Thomas died, the Diary again only records “As yesterday, 4 killed, one wounded”. In a quiet sector, it would be usual for the dead to have proper military funeral services in the reserve areas. However, Thomas and his three comrades have no known grave. It is probable that they were killed by the shellfire and, perhaps, literally, blown to pieces.

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