Thomas SHAW
Rank: Corporal
Number: 442394
Unit: 432nd Field Company ROYAL ENGINEERS
Date of Death: 6 July 1917
Age: 33
Cemetery: Ramscappelle Road Military Cemetery, Nieuwpoort, Belgium

Like his father, James, Thomas was a joiner and it is, perhaps, no surprise that, when he enlisted, the army wanted to utilise his craft skills and assigned him to the Engineers.

He was the eldest son of James and Sarah and had been born in Birkenhead where it seems his parents lived when they first married. Two years after his birth, the family had moved to Northenden and Minnie was born. Shortly after that, they came to live in Stockport taking up residence at 32 Cambridge Street, Cale Green. Between the late 1880s and mid 1890s, another four children were born - Lottie, Edith, Arthur and Elsie.

When Thomas enlisted in Manchester, probably around the middle of 1916, he was married and lived at 105 Chestergate with his wife and children. The 432nd Company had recently been formed and was a Territorial unit. It went overseas on active service in the spring of 1917.

On 6 July 1917, the men were based at Oost Dunkerque. The Company's War Diary mentions only that they were engaged on "normal work" but it is probable that they were constructing advanced billets for the infantry near Nieupoort. The Diary notes "Heavy shelling round Sardinerie; 4 men killed and 3 wounded by one shell. It appears this work may have been observed and so it will be carried out at night in future." Thomas was one of the men killed. Working alongside him were Harry Bailey and William Bramley.

Some weeks later, the local Stockport newspapers published an "In Memoriam" notice from the family for him. It noted that Minnie was living at 19 Reuban Street with her husband Tom and their children. Lottie and her husband, Alf, were at 7 Parsonage Street. Arthur, Elsie and the youngest sister, Lily, are thought to have still been at the family home, although Arthur was serving in France with the army. There was no mention of their parents who may have died by this time.

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