Rank: Private
Number: 82311
Unit: 23rd Company MACHINE GUN CORPS
Date of Death: 15 August 1917
Age: 23
Cemetery: Menin Gate Memorial, Ieper, Belgium

Thomas was the second of three children of Nicholas and Margaret Purtill. He had two sisters - Julia was two years older and Margaret, three years younger. When the Census was taken in 1901, the family was living at 10 New Zealand Road, Edgeley. Nicholas died in 1907 and this may have been when Margaret moved next door to possibly smaller (or cheaper) premises at No. 12.

Thomas worked as a doubler at the cotton mill of Dolphin Ltd on Warren Street, Stockport. He enlisted into the Cheshire Regiment in 1916 (service number 45949) His medal entitlement records at the National Archives confirm he never served abroad with the Cheshires and was, presumably, transferred to the Machine Gun Corps when he finished his training.

On 13 August, the Company moved from reserve positions at Swan Chateau into the front line at Railway Wood, four kilometres to the east of the town centre of Ypres (now Ieper). Their 16 heavy Vickers guns were intended to support an attack that would take place on the 16th.  Eight guns were camouflaged and dug-in to gun emplacements. These would fire a barrage of bullets intended to keep the enemy heads well within their trench whilst the British infantry crossed No Man's Land. Four more would be taken across No Man's Land behind the infantry to provide close support and the remaining four guns would be held in reserve. It is not known to which group Thomas was assigned but during the day, his position came under attack from enemy shellfire. Three guns were put out of action and Thomas and another man were killed. He has no known grave.

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