Corporal Thomas Thompson

A white circle with a glove crossing it's fingers and the words: Made Possible with Heritage Fund.This man is a candidate for addition to Keighley's Supplementary Volume under the proposal to add further names in 2024, the centenary of the original roll of honour.
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Supported by the National Lottery's Heritage Fund, our project intends to submit about 120 names for peer review to add them to the book which is kept at Keighley Library. The unveiling of the book with it's new names is planned for November 2024, 100 years after the unveiling of the original war memorial.

Corporal. 1/6th Battalion, Duke of Wellington's (West Riding) Regiment. Service no. 265443.

Previously no. 2223.

Early life:

Thomas was born on 24th June 1896 in Halifax and his birth was registered in Keighley the first quarter of the year 1897, which suggests that this is when they moved to Keighley. His parents were Harry Thompson, and Kate Thompson, née McGuinness.

In the 1901 census they were living at 30, George Street in Keighley. Harry was aged 28 and employed as a hot water fitter (houses). Kate was 21 and looking after the family home, Thomas was aged four, Elsie aged two, Nellie aged one and the baby of the family was Mary J. aged just nine months.

In the 1911 census the family is now living at 23, Garden Street in Hebden Bridge and Harry is 39 and is now an iron dresser at a foundry, Kate is 31 and has been married to Harry for 16 years and they've had ten children born alive and one who has died. All of these nine are living in the family home at Hebden Bridge. They are Thomas aged 14, and a *Fustian trouser presser, Elsie aged 12 is a 'ticket sewer on.' She is part time and still attends school half days.
The next five children are full time at school; Nellie is eleven, Mary is ten, James is nine, Phylis is seven and Ethel is six. The youngest children are Sarah Annie, who is aged two and the baby is Stansfield aged just two months.
The family seem to have moved a few times, possible to go where there was work for Harry. If these ages and places of birth are correct in the census, then they arrived in Keighley in 1897 and left the town after James was born in 1902 and before Phylis was born in 1904. There is then a period of five years when they were at Hebden Bridge, then another period from 1909 in Keighley for one or two years when Sarah was born here, then they were in Hebden Bridge again for the 1911 census.
We are also aware that Thomas was resident of Keighley, living at 10, Farrar's Yard in Keighley when he enlisted for the war.

*Fustian is a rugged, hard wearing cloth with a short nap, used for utility and work clothes.

War service:

From local records we know that Thomas was a very early enlistment when war broke out. He is named in Keighley's Gallant Sons of early volunteers and also in the 'Town Clerk's 1914 Enlistments' which shows his address at 10, Farrar's Yard and that he was unmarried. It also shows he has the service number 2223 and is with H Company of the West Riding Regiment. THis number macthes with medal records which also tell us he arrived in France on 14th April 1915 when the 1/6th Battalion went overseas as a battalion on S.S. Onward. He is also named in the battalion's nominal roll for this period of time.

Unfortunately there are no Army service records available for Thomas, but after the war he was listed in De Ruvigny's Roll of Honour, 1914-1919. This roll of honour contains over 26,000 casualty biographies including officers and men, 700 photos are also included. It was published in five volumes. The information on each individual varies depending on what sources were available to them.
The entry for Thomas contains a great deal of information allowing us to build up a good picture of him and his war service.

His entry reads:

THOMPSON, THOMAS, Corporal. 265443, 1/6th (Territorial) Battalion. The Duke of Wellington's (West Riding Regt.), eldest son of Harry Thompson of 26 Calder Bank, Hebden Bridge.
Thomas was a store keeper; born in Halifax, County of York, on 24 June, 1896; educated Church of England Schools, Keighley; was an Engineer's Assistant; volunteered for active service on the outbreak of war, and joined the West Riding Regt on the 4th of August 1914; served with the Expeditionary Force in France and Flanders from April, 1915, where he saw much fighting, and died at No. 1 General Hospital, Rouen, 19 Oct. 1918, of wounds received in action on the *14th.
He as buried in St. Séver Military Cemetery Extension.
His Sergeant wrote stating that on the day he received his wounds they had been fighting since daybreak, and were short of ammunition, so Corporal Thompson volunteered to take a message, and never returned, being subsequently found severely wounded. A comrade also wrote: "He was the Corporal of our section (the Scouts), and a good friend to us, so we shall miss him very much." He was a keen sportsman, especially interested in boxing and football, and had won a Medal for the bantam-weight championship in a battalion contest in 1917. He was unmarried.

*According to all other sources, he was wounded on the 13th and died on the 18th October.

Battalion War diary:

Duke of Wellington's West Riding Regiment 1/6th Battalion war diary for October 1918:
1/6th Battalion Duke of Wellington's West Riding Regiment.
War diary major events for the Great War period.
October 1918:
12th Oct:
Patrols were pushed forward from line of railway and at 16.30 Battalion moved off to high ground West of Saulzoir, where they came in touch with enemy, who were driven back to Western outskirts of Saulzoir. Battalion headquarters were established in Railway Cutting in U.6.a
13th Oct. 0200:
Patrols went forward and found enemy holding western outskirts of Saulzoir heavily. Battalion was distributed as follows, A Company on the right, D Company on the left, with B & C Companies in support.
The 147th Brigade reinforced by 19th Battalion Lancashire Fusiliers (######) attacked with a view to crossing the RIVER SELLE. The 148th Brigade passed the 146th Brigade on the left, 51st Division attacking simultaneously on the left & 24th Division on the right. Our artillery put down a barrage on the East of RIVER SELLE.
Very heavy opposition was encountered & very little progress was made by any of attacking divisions. No. 16 of D Company managed to get it forward and established posts in Western parts of Saulzoir, capturing 2 prisoners (of 48 Res. Division) and a M. Gen.
Advance posts in Saulzoir were heavily shelled at night and forced back slightly. Battalion headquarters established at VILLERS-EN-CAUCHIES.
14th Oct:
Enemy artillery & machine guns were active throughout the day, otherwise no change.

A casualty list for October appears in the battalion war diary at the end of the month:
October 13th 1918. WOUNDED.
265443 Corporal. Thompson, T. 41164 Private. Lane, A. 35727 Private. Owens, H. 265652 L/Sergeant West, A. 265114. Private. Watson, W. (Died of Wounds)

The Keighley News, Saturday 26th October 1918, page 3:

The parents of Corporal Thomas Thompson, Calder Bank, Hebden Bridge, have been officially notified of his death in action on October 13. He was 23 years of age and on the outbreak of war was residing at Keighley. As a Territorial he was mobilised on August 4, 1914, and he had been in active service since April, 1915. About eight months ago he was promoted Corporal. In civil life he was employed at the Paragon Ironworks, Keighley. As a boxer he won the battalion medal.

Thomas was found badly wounded and evacuated to No. 1 General Hospital, Rouen where he died on 19 Oct. 1918, of wounds received in action on the *14th.
He was buried in grave 4 of row J in plot S. II of St. Séver Military Cemetery Extension at Rouen.

Harry was the next of kin and in accordance with his request, Thomas's outstanding Army pay amounting to a payment of £32 1s 0d, was paid to his mother Catherine on 26th March 1919. This included a war gratuity payment of £25 10s 0d.

She would also have received his personal effects and a Bronze memorial plaque and King's certificate inscribed with his name. She would also have received his service medals which were the 1914-15 Star, British War Medal and Victory Medal.

A dependant's pension was also paid to Catherine, which was for 6s 6d per week, beginning on 22nd April 1919.

In the 1921 census the family were living at 26, Calder Bank in Hebden Bridge. Harry was 50 and employed on road making for the West Riding County Council; Kate was 41 and on home duties; Phyllis was 17 and a cotton operative spinner and winder for Robertshaw & Sons, Cotton spinners;
Sarah Hannah was 13 and a part time school, part time machinist making fustian clothing for Hartley & Sons, wholesale clothiers (Fustian); Stansfield was 10 and full time at school along with Beatrice aged 9 and Nelson aged 7. The two youngest were Edwin aged 4 and Pearl aged 18 months.

Information sources:

England & Wales, Civil Registration Birth Index, 1837-1915
1901 England Census
1911 England Census
Duke of Wellington's West Riding Regiment 1/6th Battalion war diary for October 1918:
1/6th Battalion Duke of Wellington's West Riding Regiment.
War diary major events for the Great War period.
Keighley News archives at Keighley Library
Commonwealth War Graves Commission
Soldiers Died in the Great War, 1914-1919
Army Registers of Soldiers' Effects, 1901-1929
De Ruvigny's Roll Of Honour 1914-1918
World War I Pension Ledgers and Index Cards, 1914-1923
British Army World War I Medal Rolls Index Cards, 1914-1920
World War I Service Medal and Award Rolls, 1914-1920
1921 Census Of England & Wales

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