Corporal Tom Allsopp, 1/6th Battalion Duke of Wellington's (West Riding Regiment). Service no. 2595.
Tom was born in Bingley in early 1895. The family were living at 4, Ingram Street, Ingrow, Keighley, in 1901 and had moved to Aire Street, Junction, Crosshills by 1911, when Tom was 16 and working as a weaver, most likely making worsted fabrics at Junction Mills, near Crosshills, just across the road from his home. This mill building still exists today.
Tom was 19 years and ten days old and living at 22, Beech Street, Crosshills, when he took the oath at Skipton and enlisted for four years service with the 6th Battalion West Riding Regiment (Territorials) on 7th September 1914.
After training he went out to France with the 1/6th Battalion from Folkestone on SS Onward and landed in Boulogne a few hours later. He was appointed Lance Corporal on 18th November 1915. On 28th February 1916 he was admitted to hospital with cattarhal jaundice (possibly as a result of gas poisoning) and was treated at a hospital in Dublin until 22nd March then at a convalescent hospital in Blackpool until 15th April. He later returned to France, joining a base depot on 13th June and would have rejoined his unit shortly afterwards. He was promoted to Corporal on 30th September 1916. Tom was killed in action along with three of his comrades by a trench mortar bomb on 20th November 1916 which was right at the end of the main 'Battle of the Somme' period. Tom had served for two years and 75 days.
War Diary for 1st/6th Battalion, Duke of Wellington's (West Riding Regiment):
TRENCHES NOVEMBER 1916.
Early in the morning one of our patrols was bombed & 3 men wounded. LINCOLN LANE was T.M. about 8 am.
A much better day, the sun been shining at times.
TRENCHES NOVEMBER 1916.
The 5th WRRgt raided the enemy's trenches on our right, zero hour 8 P.M. A number of Germans were killed, only 2 of the raiding party (5 Off & 95 O.R.) were killed. 3 men went out from our left Coy & sent up German SOS rockets from a German advanced sap & this drew most of the retaliation onto our Bn., the centre coy in especial being heavily bombarded by minnies(sic)
One of our patrols rear LA BRAVELLE (sic) Rd were bombed & 3 men hit.
# 1461 Sgt Hudson W. A coy killed by shell Buried by Capt Jones in Fonquevillers(sic) Cem.
5291 Pte Calvert B. A coy Wounded by shell
5631 Pte Armitage W. R. A Coy " " "
5709 Pte Haigh W. A Coy " " "
5630 Pte Vantry(sic) H. A Coy " " "
1855 Cpl Swindon H. B Coy Wounded by bomb
3057 Pt Smith F B Coy " " "
3997 Pte Glenton G. B Coy " " "
#2595 Cpl Allsopp T. D Coy Killed by T.M. (trench mortar) Buried by Capt Jones in FONQUEVILLERS CEMETRY(sic)
#2026 L Cpl Scott A. H. D Coy " " "
#2139 L Cpl Lowndes C. D Coy " " "
#1907 L Cpl Tatton J W D Coy " " "
1953 Pte Gee F. D Coy Wounded in jaw by sniper.
#Sutton man# 1759 Pte Shackleton C. D Coy wounded in forearm by shrapnel.
Corporal Allsopp was about 22 years of age when he died. The three other local men: 2026 L/Cpl A. H. Scott; 2139 L/Cpl C. Lowndes; 1907 L/Cpl J. W. Tatton, all of D Company, were killed in the same incident and are buried in adjoining graves 12 to 15 of row H, in plot 1 at Longuevillers Cemetery.
The family inscription on Tom's grave states 'GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN.'
Keighley News report 2nd December 1916:
News was received on Sunday morning last that Corporal Tom Allsopp of Cross Hills was killed in action. He joined the West Riding Regiment early in September, 1914, and went into training at Riby Camp, afterwards going to Ealing and Doncaster.
On April 14, 1915, he went to France, and had practically been there from that time up to his death. Immediately before last Christmas he was returning home on leave with some of his comrades, and while they were resting in a farm building near the firing line the officer in charge ordered them to put on their gas helmets as the Germans were making a gas attack. The men then marched into the front line trenches and found the occupants all dead as a result of the gas attack. Some of the party were then picked out to go on guard on the canal bank, and Corporal Allsopp (then a private) was one of those chosen. He was on guard for three successive days and nights, and about this time was slightly gassed. For his good work at the time of the gas attack he was promoted to lance-corporal, and shortly afterwards was allowed to return to Cross Hills on leave. He left home around News Year's Day for France, but had not been long there when he fell ill as a result of the German gas, and was admitted to a French war hospital. For several weeks he lay dangerously ill. Three times he should have journeyed on a hospital ship but was too ill to move. When he began to improve he was sent to a military hospital in Ireland, and was transferred from there to a convalescent hospital for soldiers at Blackpool. After staying at Blackpool for some time he was given the usual ten day's leave, and came home to Cross Hills around Easter. At the expiration of his leave he reported at Clipstone, and very soon after he was sent out with a draft to France. He was promoted full corporal mid-October.
Up to enlistment Corporal Allsopp resided with his parents in Beech Street, Cross Hills. He was very closely connected with the Cross Hills Wesleyan Sunday School and was on their roll of honour. He is the first lad from the Cross Hills Wesleyan Chapel and school to make the supreme sacrifice. In a letter to his mother Lieutenant B. Godfrey Buxton says: "I deeply regret to have to inform you that your son Corporal T. Allsopp was killed in action last night (November 20). He had just received his promotion and was doing particularly good work. We will all join in sending you our deepest sympathy in this great loss and pray you may indeed have comfort through it. He was buried this afternoon by the chaplain with some of his comrades in a little British cemetery behind the line. You have our deepest sympathy in the loss of so brave a son.
Keighley News report 9th December 1916:
MEMORIAL SERVICE: TRIBUTE TO CORPORAL T. ALLSOPP.
On Sunday morning last, at the Cross Hills Wesleyan Church, a service was held in memory of Corporal Tom Allsopp, the first of the young men from the church who had fallen in action. There was a large assembly, including several members of His Majesty's forces in uniform, among whom were Private Brian Smith, of Lima House, Cross Hills, who was severely wounded in the leg and head on July 10, and still walks with the help of crutches, and Lieutenant John Spencer, who is at home on leave, and members of the Volunteer Training Corps. Miss Fanny Wilson sang the solo "O rest in the Lord," and the organist (Mr Walter Thornton) played appropriate music on the organ.
The Rev.Thomas Dargue, in paying a tribute to Corporal Allsopp, said he could describe his character in one sentence - "He was everybody's lad." It was the duty of the Christian Church to keeo the world alive to the terrible horrors of war, but there was one thing worse than war, with all it's horrors, and that as an immoral peace. Never had their been a conflict in the history of the world when the issues between right and wrong were so plainly and clearly defined as in the present war.
Corporal Allsopp enlisted on September 4th, 1914, when the soldiers of the enemy were not far from the gates of Paris. Everyone did not agree with him when he enlisted, but he was posessed of no lust of blood. He was indeed a type of vast army to whom the war meant a complete revulsion, and he entered the conflict because a strong country chose to regard a treaty of peace with a weaker nation as a scrap of paper to be torn up when the fitting opportunity arose.
The revolution was the result of a revelation which came when poor suffering Belgium was invaded. When the young men of their churches and Sunday schools stepped forth as they did into their baptism of fire, there came to them a nobler and purer character. Here was man who was not actuated by any dreams of glory or passion for adventure. There came to him the call of God and the call of country, and he responded. He offered his life and services to do his bit to oppose the mailed fist, and he had not fallen in a doubtful conflict, but in a great struggle for justice, truth, humanity, progress, and civilisation.
He was the first of the lads from the Cross Hills Wesleyan Chapel to fall. He stooped to no debasing deed, nor sang a song of hate. Such men as he were the glory of the home, the honour of the churches, and the strength of the nation. The service closed with the singing of a special hymn of supplication for the forces of land and sea, followed by the National Anthem.
Tom Allsopp is remembered on the Farnhill Wesleyan Chapel and School War Memorial and also on memorials at Crosshills, and at Kildwick.
His name appears on the nominal roll of men from the 1/6th battalion who were among the first draft to France on 14th April 1915.
He was awarded the 1914-15 Star, the British War medal and the Victory Medal for his war service.
BMD Birth Index, 1837-1915
1901 and 1911 England Census records
British Army WWI Service Records, 1914-1920
Soldiers Died in the Great War, 1914-1919
Army Registers of Soldiers' Effects, 1901-1929
WWI Service Medal and Award Rolls, 1914-1920
Keighley News archives held at Keighley Library
Commonwealth War Graves Commission
National Archives War Diary for 1/6th Battalion West Riding Regiment WO95-2801_1 to _4