Tom FOSBROOKE
Rank: Private
Number: 39362
Unit: 2nd Battalion SOUTH LANCASHIRE REGIMENT
Date of Death: 11 April 1918
Age: 31
Cemetery: Ploegsteert Memorial, Hainaut, Belgium

Tom (not Thomas) Fosbrooke was born in Stockport between April and June 1886. In 1901, he was living at 27 King Street East with his parents, Tom and Elizabeth, and his seven brothers and sisters. He was the eldest son.

In 1910, he married Ruth Downhill at St Mary's Church, Newton in Mottram, Hyde. They lived at 112 Ashton Road, Newton and would have two daughters together  - Ivy and Ruth.

Tom's service number suggests he was conscripted into the army after late 1916.

On 9 April 1918, the German army launched the second phase of its spring offensive in what would become known as the Battle of the Lys (after the river). The War Diary of the South Lancashires records that heavy artillery fire was heard about 4am and this was, indeed, the prelude to the infantry attack, which followed three hours later. The Battalion was some miles away from the attack area and spent a normal day. On the morning of the 10th, however, they were ordered forward to a position known as Regina Farm near Ploegsteert. They arrived about 11.30 having collected some small groups of stragglers from other units. The situation remained quiet but the enemy could be seen massing near the village. At 6pm, two companies of the Battalion took part in a counter -attack to recapture Ploegsteert, but without success. Later in the evening, the Battalion received order to withdraw to Le Bizet.

The troops were reorganised during the night, which included a further small withdrawal at 2am. The War Diary records "About 6am the enemy attacked all along the Battalion front very heavily, but was repulsed with severe loss by rifle and Lewis gun fire, there being no artillery available." There were further strong attacks at 9am and 11am. After the latter attack, the Battalion on the right had been forced to withdraw and the South Lancashires had not option but to follow. They took up a position about 300 yards north east of Romarin, remaining there until 8pm, when a further withdrawal was ordered.

In the chaos of retreat, there was no time to deal with the dead and the bodies were, no doubt, buried later by the advancing Germans. It is, perhaps, no surprise that they were not overly concerned with ensuring the individual identification of each man. Tom now has no known grave and his name is commemorated on the nearby Memorial to the Missing.

Tom's name is also inscribed on the Memorial at Hyde Town Hall.

   
           
   
     
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