Tom CROFTS
Rank: Private
Number: 35387
Unit: 6th Battalion King’s Shropshire Light Infantry
Date of Death: 28 March 1918
Age: 19
Cemetery: Pozieres Memorial, Somme, France

As confirmed by the 1901 Census, his name was Tom, not Thomas, and he had been born in the Stockport area in the early months of 1899.

Tom's father, Enos, originated from Puddleton in Dorset and, in 1893, married Fanny Potts in Stockport, By 1901, they had had three sons and were living at 8 River View, Reddish. Living next door, at No. 9, was Mark Crofts, his wife Elizabeth and their daughter Alice. Mark also came from Puddleton and was, probably, Enos' younger brother.

In later life, Tom worked at the cotton mill belonging to Thomas Houldsworth & Co Ltd, Houldsworth Street, Reddish. Tom will have been conscripted into the army when he became 18 and he was attached to 4th Training Reserve Battalion (service number 30332) at Rugeley Camp in Staffordshire.

On 21 March 1918, the German Army attacked along a wide front, overwhelming the British troops. Their advance was relentless and, at about 3.50pm, next day, they reached positions held by the Shropshires west of the village of Happencourt. They attacked against both flanks and, in spite of strong fire, they broke through the line, cutting off the platoon at each end of the Battalion position. By 11pm, the German attack had strengthened still further and they managed to get into the Shropshires' trenches, now cutting off "B" Company before they had chance to withdraw to safety. The rest of the Battalion attempted a counterattack to rescue their comrades but the German strength was too great. "B" Company had no option but to surrender.

During the fighting, Tom had been wounded and he was taken prisoner. He will have received medical treatment from German military surgeons, but he died whilst at a prisoner of war camp some way behind the German lines at Flavy le-Martel. He will have been buried with dignity by the Germans but it is not surprising that they took little account of the identities of the dead. Tom has no known grave and is commemorated on the Memorial to the Missing at Pozieres.

It's understood his older brothers, Edward and George, also served during the War and are thought to have survived.

   
           
   
     
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