Private Thomas Wilkinson Binns, 15th Battalion, Prince of Wales' Own West Yorkshire Regiment. (1st Battalion, Leeds Pals). Service no. 1138.
Later served with 9th Battalion, Princess Victoria's Royal Irish Fusiliers, Service no. 40054.
Thomas was born in Oakworth on June 14, 1895, his birth was registered in Keighley in the third quarter of the year. His parents were Walter Atkinson Binns and Sarah Ann Binns.
In the 1901 census he was five and living at living at 4, Oldfield with his parents, brother Arthur (7), Sister Emmie Eliza (2) and brother Clifford (11 months). Father Walter's occupation was waterworks labourer. Oldfield waterworks is just up the hill from this address.
By the time of the 1911 census he was 15 years old and living at 16 and 18 Oldfield with his parents, brother Arthur (17), sister Emmie Eliza (12), brother Clifford (10) and sister Lily (7). Father's occupation was still a waterworks labourer and Thomas was employed as a worsted spinner.
Thomas enlisted early in the war. He was best pals with another Oakworth lad Clifford Baxandall who had signed up with the Bradford Pals Regiment (16th Battalion West Yorkshire Regiment).
Thomas had joined the 15th Battalion, West Yorkshire Regiment on January 1, 1915, with the service number 1138. These were the 1st Battalion Leeds Pals and his brother Arthur Binns had also signed up with them. They would likely have entrained at Masham and then marched to Colsterdale in North Yorkshire for training. On deployment he would have travelled to Egypt, arriving on December 30, 1915 to defend the Suez Canal and then to France in March 1916 and was present at the start of the Battle of the Somme, where 500 of his comrades died on the first day.
Keighley News 8th September 1917:
Private Tom Binns, West Riding Regiment [should be West Yorkshire Regiment], and of Commercial Street, Oakworth, has been gassed.
He was wounded and in hospital in 1918 when he wrote a note to the Keighley News to tell of his friendship with his best pal Clifford Baxandall who had died on May 3, 1917 at the start of the Battle of Arras. They had been photographed together before going off to war.
Keighley News 11th May 1918:
Baxandall. - In loving memory of my dear pal. Pte. Clifford Baxandall, who died of wounds in France, May 3rd, 1917.
The happy hours we once enjoyed,
How sweet their memory clings.
My pal in life; not forgotten in death.
From Tom, (wounded, in hospital).
Thomas later served with the 9th Battalion, Princess Victoria's Royal Irish Fusiliers, with the service number 40054.
Thomas was discharged medically unfit for service on December 6, 1918 and issued with a Silver War Badge, number B54750 and given a war pension. Family information tells us he'd received an upper leg wound, possibly in the groin.
He was awarded the 1914-15 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal for his war service.
In 1919 he was the best man at his brother Arthur's wedding and he's wearing his Silver War Badge in this photograph. Note that he has a chain attached for security as these badges were uniquely numbered, and the recipients were informed that they would not be replaced if lost:
On April 8, 1922 he married Priscilla Whitaker, the marriage being registered at Keighley. He was 26 and employed as a sanitary inspector and living at 38, Edensor Road in Keighley. Priscilla was 28, the daughter of John wilkinson, a blacksmith and she was a spinster, living at 3, Balfour Street at that time. They had no children.
Thomas died at the age of 77 in December 1972, reportedly at Beanlands Nursing Home in Glusburn. His death was registered at Staincliffe.
Birth, marriage and death records.
1901 and 1911 census.
WWI Service Medal and Award Rolls, 1914-1920.
Silver War Badge roll.
Keighley News archives, Keighley Library.
Photographs supplied by family.
Silver War Badge drawn by Andy Wade.