Rank: Private
Number: 27876
Unit: C Company, 12th Battalion MANCHESTER REGIMENT
Date of Death: 22 July 1917
Age: 18
Cemetery: Sunken Road Cemetery, Fampoux, Pas de Calais, France

In the March quarter of 1899, Thomas Brelsford and Emily Deakin married in the Stockport area. She must have been pregnant with their son whose birth was also registered in that quarter. They named him Thomas after his father. It is probable that Emily is the same woman as the 26 year old whose death was registered at Stockport in the June quarter of 1900. It's understood she had given birth to a daughter in this time, although her name is not known.

It also isn't known if Thomas remarried or continued to bring up the children on his own at the family home of 34 Brunswick Street, Stockport. Nothing is known of his son's life except that he worked locally at India Mill. He enlisted into the army at Manchester on 11 August 1915 and will have gone overseas after training in the autumn.

After a short period in reserve, Thomas and his comrades returned to the front line on 20 July 1917, taking over from the 9th Battalion, West Riding Regiment in Gavrelle Switch Trench. Gavrelle is a small village east of the French town of Arras. The first couple of days were spent improving the trenches.

On the 22nd, the Battalion's War Diary records "Work on trenches continued. Considerable aerial activity in the morning. Several enemy machines flying over our trenches. One enemy machine brought down by our planes and fell east of Gavrelle. Enemy trench mortars active between 6am and 8am. Occasional shelling during morning by both sides......Casualties: 1 OR killed, 2 OR woulded (1 of whom remained at duty - all by Trench Mortar fire."

Thomas was the one OR (Other Rank - not an officer) who had been killed. His platoon lieutenant wrote to the family saying Thomas had been in the trench with four others and a trench mortar shell had dropped in front of them, killing him and wounding the man next to him. "He was in my platoon and one of the best machine gunners in the Battalion and we all feel his loss very much." Thomas' sergeant also wrote saying the Battalion Chaplain had conducted the funeral service and the men had arranged for a cross to be put over his grave.

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