Private Thomas Henry WALL (260645)

7th Bn. Border Regiment
(Westmorland and Cumberland Yeomanry)


Born: 24 May 1893, Glenridding
, Westmorland
Died: 17 April 1918, Glasgow, (Age 24) 



Thomas Henry Wall was born on the 24th May 1893 at Gillside in Glenridding and baptised a month later at the Wesleyan Chapel in Glenridding on the 25th June. He was the eldest son of Henry Wall, a Lead Miner, and his wife Ann. His father Henry had arrived in Glenridding with his parents in the mid 1880’s from Rookhope in County Durham, along with many other families from that area (including the Readshaws) to work at the Greenside mine and in November 1889 had married the Penrith born Ann Tuer Dent in St Patrick’s Church. Thomas attended Patterdale School and was a choir boy at Patterdale Church. In 1901 Thomas was living at Myres Cottages, in Glenridding with his parents, baby brother John, three sisters and Ann’s widowed mother Charlotte Dent. His father died in October 1902 aged just 38, which must have been a great hardship for his mother Ann with no wage coming in. They were still living at Myres in Apr 1905 when Ann’s mother died. By 1911 Ann had moved to Place Fell Cottage in Patterdale with youngest child John and was working as a Charwoman. Thomas was living with his Uncle James Wall in Ryton-on-Tyne, where they both worked as Coal Miners (Thomas was using the name Harry by this time). James had married Hannah Jane, the daughter of Matthew Pattinson, in Patterdale in 1901. There is a reference to Thomas being a member of the Oddfellows.

Towards the end of November 1914, Thomas enlisted into the Westmorland and Cumberland Yeomanry, most likely into ‘B’ Squadron who had their headquarters at the Drill Hall in Penrith, and was given the service number 2724. From his Medal Card, we can see that he was initially assigned to the 2/1st which had been formed in September 1914 as a "second line" (training, draft-supplying reserve) for the 1/1st. However, before the 23rd of June 1915, Thomas had been transferred into the 1/1st and sent to Marlborough in Wiltshire, in preparation for going to France attached to the 1st Cavalry Division. He landed in France on the 28th July 1915. The movements of the 1/1st in France during the next two years are difficult to trace as they seem to have been moved around quite a bit.

Historically the Westmorland and Cumberland Yeomanry were a cavalry regiment on horses but in the trench warfare of WW1, horses were of more use pulling guns and supplies, so the regiment were re-equipped with bicycles. However because of manpower shortages at the front, in June 1917 it was decided to dismount the 1/1st Regiment and train them as infantrymen, before sending them to join the 7th Border on the 22nd September 1917, under it's new title – 7th (Westmorland and Cumberland Yeomanry) Battalion, Border Regiment. On the 24th September 1917, the newly constructed Battalion left Arras and marched to Ivergny (about 18 miles west of Arras). From there they went firstly by train to Elverdinghe in Flanders (near Ypres), then marched on to dug outs at the Yser Canal where they supported an attack on the 11th October in the Taube Farm area. Poor conditions and the uncertain nature of the attacks cost the 7th Border heavily. 

January 1918 found the 7th Border back in The Somme 
region, supplying working parties for the defences there, in anticipation of the expected German Offensive now that the Eastern Front fighting had finished and many battle hardened German Divisions were being amassed on the Western Front. On the 21st March 1918 the German Bombardment began (see the notes on Operation Michael below)2 and the 7th Border 'stood to' in battle positions at Havrincourt as part of V Corps, Third Army. The shelling was very intense and forced a fighting retreat from the Cambrai Salient to Millencourt, where a consolidation at Henencourt held up the German Assault for a time but further withdrawals had to be made as far back as Flesselles north of Amiens. By the 5th April 1918 when the battle ended, the 7th Border losses were 18 killed, 124 wounded and 65 missing. Thomas was one of those wounded, his injuries were severe but he was expected to make a recovery and was evacuated back to Britain by Hospital Ship to the No.4 Military Hospital in Stobhill, Glasgow. Sadly, during the journey he contracted a severe cold and double pneumonia ensued. His mother Ann was telegraphed in Patterdale and immediately travelled to Glasgow to be at his bedside. He died on the 17th April 1918 aged 24. He was buried with full military honours in Patterdale Churchyard on Sunday the 21st April 1918. His ‘military style’ gravestone can be seen in in the churchyard not far from that of his father Henry and grandparents Henry and Susannah.

Thomas had spent two years and 8 months in France and Flanders. His medal card1 shows that he was posthumously awarded the Victory Medal, British War Medal and the 1915 Star.

He is remembered and commemorated on: 

The Patterdale War Memorial
Glenridding Public Hall – Roll of Honour
Military Gravestone in St Patrick's Churchyard
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission Memorial Certificate


What became of his family?

Thomas’ mother Ann continued to live in Patterdale until her death in July 1950, aged 80, whilst living at 1, Oakbank. 

In 1911, his older sister Clara was in service as a 'Under-Housemaid' at Flass House in Maulds Meaburn near Crosby-Ravenscroft. This was the home of Mr Robert Wilkinson Dent Esq., a member of the Landed Gentry whose ancestors had become wealthy through the sale of Opium in China. Interestingly, the maiden name of Thomas' mother Ann was Dent, so was there a link between the families which helped get Clara employed? In early March 1912, Clara was to have married Thomas Thompson, a Railway Porter she had met at nearby Tebay, but for some reason the marriage was 'called off' before the third reading of the Banns on the 25th February. However, they eventually married around August 1914. Sadly, Clara died at the beginning of May 1923 aged just 33 years. She is buried in St Patrick's Churchyard.

Also from the 1911 Census, we found that younger sister Charlotte was in service as a 'third housemaid' at 'The Birks' near Lytham in Lancashire, the home of Mr James Fair a Land Agent. We do not know what became of her later.

Younger sister Cicely married Thomas Pears from Crookabeck on 26th Jan 1919 and continued to live in Patterdale until her death in May 1951 whilst living at Rooking Cottages. 

We do not know what became of his younger brother John after 1911. 


Notes:

1. Medal Card for Private Thomas H Wall (260645) 7th Bn. (Westmorland and Cumberland Yeomanry)
Border Regiment


The Victory Medal
To qualify for the Victory medal one had to be mobilised in any service and have entered a theatre of war between 5 August 1914 and 11 November 1918).

The British War Medal

To qualify for the British War Medal a member of the fighting forces had to leave his native shore in any part of the British Empire while on service. It did not matter whether he/she entered a theatre of war or not.

The 1914-15 Star

The 1914–15 Star was approved in 1918, for issue to officers and men of British and Imperial forces who served in any theatre of the War between 5 August 1914 and 31 December 1915 (other than those who had already qualified for the 1914 Star).


2. Operation Michael 

This was a German military operation that began the Spring Offensive on the 21st March 1918. It was launched from the Hindenburg Line, in the vicinity of Saint-Quentin, France. It's goal was to break through the Allied lines and advance in a north-westerly direction to seize the Channel ports, which supplied the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) and to drive the BEF into the sea. Two days later Ludendorff changed his plan and pushed for an offensive due west, along the whole of the British front north of the River Somme. This was designed to separate the French and British Armies and crush the British forces by pushing them into the sea. The offensive ended at Villers-Bretonneux, to the east of the Allied communications centre at Amiens, where the Entente managed to halt the German advance; the German armies had suffered many casualties and were unable to maintain supplies to the advancing troops. Much of the ground fought over was the wilderness left by the 1916 Battle of the Somme. The action was therefore officially named by the British Battles Nomenclature Committee as The First Battles of the Somme, 1918, whilst the French call it the Second Battle of Picardy (2ème Bataille de Picardie). The failure of the offensive marked the beginning of the end of the First World War. The arrival in France of large reinforcements from the United States replaced Entente casualties but the German Army was unable to recover from its losses before these reinforcements took the field. Operation Michael failed to achieve its objectives and the German advance was reversed during the Second Battle of the Somme, 1918 (21st August – 3rd September) in the Allied Hundred Days Offensive.