Rank: Lance Corporal
Number: 40059
Date of Death: 27 January 1917
Age: 30
Cemetery: Thiepval Memorial, Somme, France

When the Census was taken in 1901, 14 year old Thomas was living at 29 Newbridge Lane, Stockport with his parents, Thomas and Ellen; older sister, Ellen and younger brother, William. He had left school by then and was working as an errand boy. Nothing else is known of his life until he joined the army, travelling to Wrexham to enlist into the Royal Welsh Fusiliers. His service number, 35454, suggests this was relatively early in the War, probably in 1915. He went overseas on active service with the Regiment, later transferring to the Borderers.

The Battle of the Somme was fought between July and November 1916. It was, of course, only later that an official date of it finishing was determined but fighting continued over the same ground for the remainder of the War. The Battalion had spent a couple of days in hutted billets in reserve at Guillemont before moving forward at about 4pm on 26 January. Most men were to be held in close support of other battalions who were to undertake an attack at Morval. Several platoons would, however, undertake "mopping up" operations immediately behind the main attacking force. This would involve checking enemy dug-outs and engaging any Germans who refused to surrender. In fact, it was rare that such niceties were followed and more usual procedure was to throw some grenades into the dugout and then "deal" with any still alive.

The attack started at 5am and the "moppers up" followed. This time, considerable numbers of Germans surrendered and over 400 were taken back under escort. Throughout the period, the German artillery heavily shelled the British front line, now being held by the main body of the Borderers. It isn't known if Thomas was killed while mopping up or became a victim of the shellfire but his body was never recovered and identified.

In the early 1920s, when the War Graves Commission collated its casualty information, Mr & Mrs Pownall had moved to 17 Torkington Street, Edgeley.

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