Air Mechanic Tom Raymond Walmsley

Thomas (Tom) Raymond Walmsley

Air Mechanic second class (engines) Thomas (Tom) Raymond Walmsley. Royal Navy. Service number F 19088.

The Walmsley family grave in Haworth Cemetery on Penistone Hill, Haworth.

Early life:
Tom was born on 13th January 1897. His parents were Thomas Binns Walmsley and Fanny Walmsley née Hartley, who had married in 1887. They had five children living plus two others, who had died young.
Thomas and Fanny had been living at 12 Cold Street in Haworth during the 1891 census but had moved to 3, Nile Street where Tom was born. They had recently moved from 1, Emily Street prior to this. Thomas was employed as a Stone Mason. He sadly died in late 1899 when Tom was just a couple of years old, which would have been a terrible shock to them all.
A couple of years later in the 1901 census, widow Fanny was living at 3, Nile Street, Cross Roads with her five children - Harold (thirteen), Ida (eleven), Frances (seven), Norman (five) and Tom aged four. Fanny was working as a weaver at a worsted mill to support her family although it's not clear who was caring for the younger children whilst she did this and life must have been a struggle for her.
In the 1911 census Tom was 14 and a spinner at a worsted mill (probably Lees Mill) The family were living at 31, Nelson Street, Lees and all would have been bringing in a wage. Janet had by now lost her husband and two children out of six.

War service:
Tom enlisted in the Royal Navy on 11th August 1916 for the duration of hostilities, when he would have been 19 years and 7 months old. He is shown as serving at HMS President II but this is an administrative centre and he would have been in training, possibly at Crystal Palace.
Tom was of above average height at 5 feet 7 inches and a 34 inch chest measurement. He had brown hair and grey eyes with a fresh complexion. He trained as an air mechanic and was rated 2nd class by the end of his short service. His character was rated: 'Very good' and his ability was 'Satisfactory.'

On 5th October 1916 he was discharged from the Navy with 'inicipent phthisis' which means he was in the early stages of tuberculosis of the lungs. He also had 'otitis media' which is a middle ear infection (inside the ear but behind the eardrum) and this may have been connected with his tuberculosis.

Death and commemoration:
Tom died at home in 31, Nelson Street just over a year and a half later on 22nd April 1918, so it's likely that the tuberculosis grew progressively worse until his eventual death aged just 21.
His death certificate shows he died of (1) Tuberculosis of lung and (2) Tubercular meningitis.

He is buried in the family grave at Haworth Cemetery on Penistone Hill, section B, grave 125.
Tom is remembered on the Lees, Bocking and Cross Roads War Memorial/Roll of Honour.
He had not been commemorated by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission so the research was submitted in October 2019 and he was accepted for addition to their perpetual roll of honour.
His brother Harold also appears to have served in the war and survived, as he is named on the above roll of honour as H. Walmsley.

Reference sources:
England & Wales, Civil Registration Birth Index, 1837-1915
1901 Census
1911 Census
Royal Navy service record sheet
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission Records
England and Wales Death Records
The Keighley News archives at Keighley Library
Death certificate

Some of this research has been carried out by Mick Hey and Tito Arana of Cross Roads.

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