‚ÄčRoyton Roll of Honour

THOMAS HENRY
Date of Death:19/05/1915
Rank:Private
Service No:10191
Regiment:The King's (Liverpool Regiment)
Unit:1st Bn.
Memorial:
Le Touret Memorial
Panel Ref:Panel 7d

Thomas Henry was born in 1902 or 1903 in Stockport. His parents were Thomas snr, from Belfast, and Martha from Stockport.The Henry's first child James died in infancy, Thomas was their eldest surviving child. His siblings were Richard (see entry above), Sarah, William and Martha. When Thomas was about 2 years old the family moved to Manchester but by 1898 they had settled in the Heyside area of Royton. The 1901 census found them at Hill Street, Heyside with Thomas senior working as a Spindle Maker. They later moved to 30 Downing Street, the family being there in 1911. There is no sign of Thomas in the 1911 census but if he was away from Royton he didn't stay away for long.
Thomas married Mary Hearne in Oldham towards the end of 1913, their first child Annie coming along shortly afterwards on January 7th 1914. Annie was baptised at St.Paul's where Thomas was a parishioner. Thomas & Mary settled just along from his parents at 41 Downing Street.
Thomas enlisted at Ashton-under-Lyne early in the war, presumably with the intention of joining the Manchester Regiment whose depot was there. He was however sent to the King's Regiment, with him was George MacDonald from Shaw who the Oldham Chronicle described as a close friend. They probably joined up in August which was also noteworthy for Thomas as his wife Mary became pregnant with their second child at that time.
The pre war regulars of the 1st Battalion The King's had landed at Le Havre 13 August 1914 and were involved in much of the fighting for the remainder of that year. On 10th March 1915 the British launched the Battle of Neuve Chapelle. The role of the 1st The King's was in a subsidiary attack to the south aimed at preventing the Germans moving men north to meet the main British attack. The Kingsmens attack failed but it could be argued they were successful in keeping German units from being sent to Neuve Chapelle. The butcher's bill was high though, 113 men were killed and a similar total wounded.
Six days later Thomas Henry (and friend George MacDonald) arrived in France as part of a draft of reinforcements to replace those men.They reached the battalion on the 20th at Bethune.From then until Thomas' death a little over two months later the battalion spent time in and out of the front lines.
On May 9th, during the Battle of Aubers Ridge, Thomas Henry's unit were due to go into action behind men of the 1st King's Royal Rifle Corps and 1st Royal Berkshires. The attack was supposed to begin at 20:30 but with the men in position it was postponed until after midnight and then cancelled altogether. On the 10th they were again under the impression they were about to go into action at 11:30 but this attack was also postponed. That time was one of high stress for the men as they were keyed up for the attack, told it was off, then told they were going again and then told once again it was cancelled. Major T.W Shepherd of the Battalion wrote in his diary:

"All the morning there was nothing to do but watch the bodies of the dead from yesterday(9th) being carried away by us in stretchers, for burial - and think. I can imagine nothing more trying execpt to wait to be hanged. Over the ground we were to have gone the Munsters lost over 500 and 19 officers out of 22"

The 1st King's were to be thrown into battle again soon enough though,at the Battle of Festubert which began on May 15th. At the start of battle the battalion were in support of fellow units from the 6th Brigade - 1st KRRC, 1st Royal Berks & the 1st/7th King's (the latter being Territorials drawn from Bootle and the Southport area).
At around 23:00 on the night of the the 15th the attack began and by about 00:30 half of the 1st King's were being used as reinforcements for the Berkshires. The King's were supposed to attack through the Berkshires but the men were too scattered by that point to be able to be put into attack formation and word was sent back to Brigade HQ.The situation was such though that an order was received to start across No Man's Land. The Battalion Commander,Colonel Steavenson, recorded the action in his personal diary:

"At 3:30 am B Company attempted the crossing by platoons.The first one was mown down by machine gun fire from..the right. The second was out before I could stop it and was also wiped out, but I managed to stop the third moving.Reported this to Brigade.Then started a very heavy bombardment of our front and communication trenches which lasted all day(16th).The communication trench was completely wrecked.We suffered heavily (over 100 casualties) and there was not the slightest bit of parados (the parapet is the top of the front of a trench,the parados it's equivalent at the back) to protect the men from the back explosions"

During the action described above Private Joseph Tombs rescued four men and was to win the Victoria Cross.The fighting of the 16th had seen the 6th Brigade take some German trenches but there was now a gap between them and the Brigade on one of their flanks. The 1st King's were the advance unit involved in the fighting of the 17th to try to plug that gap and succeeded in doing so. The trenches they held at the end of the day were broken and shattered and full of dead, wounded and dying. The Kingsmen helped themselves to the plentiful amounts of German rifles and ammunition as nearly all of theirs were clogged with mud. At 09:00 on May 18th they were ordered to attack the German lines, along with a battalion of Irish Guards on their right, but this was cancelled.From 13:30 until 16:00 they came under heavy artillery fire which buried several men. Then, at 16:30, the attack along with the Guards finally went ahead. The men of the 1st King's got up to in front of the German positions but were nearly wiped out by machine gun fire. The survivors and those of the Irish Guards fell back. The battalion was relieved the following day and there is no mention in their Commanding Officers diary of any losses on the 19th. Perhaps all those men listed as dying by the War Graves Commission  on the 19th actually fell in the failed attack on the 18th. Or perhaps Colonel Steavenson had his dates wrong.
Thomas Henry was one of the many killed, along with his close friend from Shaw, George MacDonald. At the time Thomas was killed his wife Mary back in Royton was just about to give birth - their son William being born on May 19th, Thomas' given day of death.
A couple of weeks later Mary Henry recieved notification that Thomas had been seriously wounded in action. Shortly afterwards though she learnt of his death in a letter from Private H.Strange (11233):

"Dear Mrs Henry, no doubt you will have been officially informed by now of your husband. He gave me your address the night we went into action and I feel it is the least I can do to comply with his desire that I should write to you if anything untoward happened. We are still at a loss to understand what happened to your husband. I sincerely hope hye has not met his fate although there is little hope otherwise. He was a great pal of mine and I will miss him greatly. He was missed on Sunday May 16th and is still missing. I hope you are in possession of better news thatn what this note contains. Joining with the platoon in conveying their sympathy to you, believe me to be, yours faithfully.
H.Strange
"

The official confirmation of his death came three weeks or so later. Later that year little William Thomas Henry, born on the day of his father's death, also died. Mary remarried in 1918.
The other men listed as dying with Thomas on May 19th were:

AKIEN THOMAS Corporal 7462 from Sunderland        
ARMISTEAD JOHN 21 Private 11735 from Liverpool    
BASSNETT FREDERICK 31 Private 18952 from Liverpool    
BEASLEY  CYRIL Private 10503 from London        
BRANNEN  GEORGE 33 Private 6256 from Batley    
BROMLEY  WILLIAM Lance Corporal 10214 from Liverpool        
BURKE JOHN Private 9827 from Liverpool        
BURKE THOMAS 35 Private  10964 Boer War veteran    
BURKE WALTER 36  Private  8220 from Widnes        
BUTTERWORTH DANIEL 25 Private 9603 from Liverpool    
CAPON LOUIS Private 8547 from Liverpool        
CARPENTER ELIJAH 37 Private 26275 from Manchester        
CATO CHARLES 32  Private  8811 from Liverpool    
CLARKE FRANK Corporal 9623 from Rochdale        
COOK WILLIAM Lance Corporal 8907 from Bedford        
COWIN JOHN 33 Private 8678 from Isle of Man    
CROASDALE JOHN 31 Private 13064 from Liverpool        
CUNNINGHAM PETER Private 11314 from Liverpool        
DONNELLY JOHN Private 13801 from Salford        
DUMBELL  ISAAC 28 Private 9222 from Liverpool    
EGGLESTON JONATHAN Private 8634 from Penrith        
ELLIS LEO 22 Private 11855 from Liverpool    
FLANAGHAN THOMAS Private 8491 from Co.Roscommon        
FOSTER GEORGE 22 Private 9877 from Liverpool    
FOX GEORGE Private 8809  from Wakefield    
FRANE EDWARD Private 10497 from Liverpool        
FROST ARTHUR Private 12649 from Liverpool        
GAFFEY JAMES Private 9786 from Liverpool        
GREGORY WRIGHT 21 Private 10272 from Shaw     
HARDY HARRY Private 9459 from Nottingham        
HARRIS JOHN 38 Private 12670 from Manchester    
HATZER JOHN Private 8728 from Bolton        
HEWITT THOMAS 35 Private 7117 from St.Helens    
HILL RICHARD Private 10993 from Liverpool        
HOLT WILLIAM 20  Private  11600 from London    
HORNE WILLIAM Private 7307 from York        
HOWARD WALTER 21 Private 11220 born Sheffield,lived Cheshire     
HUNTER JOHN 20 Private 11427 born Liverpool,lived Dundee         
JOHNSON  ALEXANDER 20 Private 10465 from Liverpool    
JONES PERCY Corporal 10597 from Kent        
KEEGAN PERCY Private 10855 from Liverpool        
KENNEDY FRANK Corporal 8781 from Widnes        
LANGTON  HENRY Private 9535 from Liverpool        
LEE WILLIAM Private 10448 from Lees        
LEPP JOSEPH Private 11536 from St.Helens        
LINDSAY  FREDERICK Private 8744 from Liverpool    
LUND EDWARD 33 Private 7256 Boer War veteran.born Kendal,lived Liverpool    
MACDONALD GEORGE Private 10273 from Shaw    
MANNION  JOHN 21  Private  10204 from Staffordshire        
MASON WILLIAM 30 Private 9183 from Walsall         
MEYER WILLIAM Lance Corporal 8587 born London,enlisted Warrington        
MILES ALBERT Private 11887 from London        
MULLIN JAMES 23  Private  10415 from Liverpool    
MURPHY THOMAS 26 Serjeant 10044  from Liverpool    
McELROY WILLIAM 19 Private 10496 from Liverpool    
McGARRY JOSEPH 29 Private 8553 from Liverpool    
McGOWAN GEORGE  Private 10363 from Liverpool        
NASH GW  19 Private 11488 from Barking    
NASH THOMAS Private 13844 born Wolverhampton,lived Liverpool        
NEWLAND  HARRY Private 11882 from Burscough        
NORBURY ROBERT 20 Private 13241  from Liverpool    
O'KEEFE PATRICK 21 Private 11845 from Liverpool    
OSTCLIFF HARRY 21 Private 11761 from Leeds    
OWENS JAMES Private 9410 from Liverpool        
PHILLIPS JOHN Private 10561 from Liverpool        
POLLARD JOHN Private 12635 from Padiham        
PRESCOTT ARTHUR 28 Lance Corporal 8677 from Southport    
PURVIS JOHN Private 11523 from Liverpool        
QUINN JOHN 28 Private 14567 from Co.Dublin    
QUINN JOHN Private 6635  from Liverpool    
QUINN THOMAS Private 10275 from Liverpool        
RILEY JAMES Private 8741 from Barrowford,Lancs        
ROBINSON ALBERT 28 Private 8164 from Belfast    
ROWHOLD ERNEST Private 11972 from London        
SAMPSON  JOHN 25  Private  10054 from Birmingham    
SIDDONS LAWRENCE 23 Private 9582 from Derby    
SKIFFINGTON JAMES 24 Private 9604 from Liverpool    
STEEL THOMAS Private 11527 from London        
TARBUCK  CHARLES 24 Private 10660 from Widnes         
THOMSON  ARCHIBALD Private 11548  from Liverpool    
TOWNSEND GEORGE 31 Private 23252 from Liverpool         
TURNER JAMES 23  Private  10679 born Manchester,lived Liverpool         
WADE AUSTIN Serjeant 7470 from Southport        
WALTON RILEY Private 12578 from Nelson        
WARBURTON SQUIRE Private 10394 from Manchester        
WEBSTER  CHARLES  23 Private 8943  from Nottinghamshire     
WETHERALL ALBERT Private 11824 from Liverpool        
WILLIAMS ELLIS 18 Private 11687  from Liverpool    
WOODS ALFRED Private 12004 from Southport        
YATES SAMUEL Lance Serjeant 9600 from St Helens