When the 1901 census was taken, the Anderton’s were living at Gorsey Brow, Bredbury. 42 year old William Anderton was married to Annie and earned his living as a felt hat shaper. They had four children and 5 year old Tom was the youngest. At some point, they moved to nearby Romiley and, after he left school, Tom went to work for Rhodes Brothers – a local firm of joiners.
He enlisted into the army at Manchester in December 1914 and, as reported in the Cheshire Daily Echo in its edition of 1 September 1915 “He did not know anyone amongst the recruits at the line or in the Regiment he joined. At first he was at Winchester in the King’s Royal Rifles but was transferred a little later with others to the 6th Rifle Brigade and moved to Queensborough. Together with a draft of about 350, he went to France on active service on May 2nd last, the men being divided between the 2nd and 4th Rifle Brigades on arrival. Anderton went to the 4th Brigade. A very few days later he was in a battle in which he was one of 22 men left in the 4th Brigade out of the original draft.”
The battle referred to will have been one of the latter stages of the Second Battle of Ypres in which several battalions of the Rifle Brigade lost heavily. Tom will have celebrated his 20th birthday around the same time. Shortly after he wrote home “I have helped to bury scores of fellows coming out here. We place a small wooden cross with their name and regiment over the grave for later identification.” When not undertaking tours of duty in the front line, the men would rest but also would train and Tom was practising to become a specialist grenade thrower.
Whilst out of the line, he wrote his final letter home on 17 August, thanking his parents for food parcels they had sent and telling them he was safe and sound, although the weather had been very stormy. On the 25th, the Battalion went back into the trenches near Bois Grenier, a small village three kilometres south of Armentieres, relieving a battalion of the Shropshire Light Infantry.
His platoon sergeant, a man named Cohen, wrote to his family saying that Tom had been shot by a sniper and had died soon afterwards. They had buried him the same day.