‚ÄčRoyton Roll of Honour

THOMAS WRIGLEY
Age:20
Date of Death:25/04/1916
Rank:Private
Service No:15581
Regiment:West Yorkshire Regiment (Prince of Wales's Own)
Unit:2nd Battalion
Cemetery:Aveluy Communal Cemetery Extension
Grave Ref:E.29

Thomas Wrigley,known as Tom,was born in Oldham's Glodwick district in 1895.His parents being Joseph, an ironworker, and Martha. Tom was their eldest child with Lizzie,Joseph,Ivy,Fred and Annie following. Lizzie was to die aged one in 1896 and Annie aged only seven months in 1908.
Around the time of the turn of the 20th century the Wrigleys moved to Royton and were at 13 North Street for the 1901 census. Tom's mother Martha died in 1913 aged 44, the family were still living at North Street at that time. Tom worked as a piecer at the Roy Mill.
Tom enlisted early in the war and is possibly the same man reported in an Oldham Chronicle of October 1914 as having joined the Hussars. When it came his turn to be sent out to the front though it was to the 2nd Battalion of the West Yorkshire Regiment, arriving in France to join them in mid March 1915.
After Tom's arrival with the battalion he quickly found himself acquainted with the front line as the 2nd West Yorks were holding positions near Neuve Chapelle at that time.His first few months found his unit rebuilding trenches, tours in and out of the front line and while there whilst experiencing sniping and shelling there were no attacks launched by either the British or the Germans. During an attack at Fromelles on May 2nd 1915 the Battalion was in support and were not called upon to cross No Man's Land. After that it was back to the routine of spells in the front line but again no great actions to report. There was another close brush with action in late September 1915 when the Battalion was held in reserve for the Battle of Loos, again they were not involved in any attacks. The familiar routine continued for Thomas and his comrades all the way through the rest of the year and well into 1916. Casualties were a regular feature of their spells in the front line but they were not to go 'over the top' during Tom Wrigley's service with them. Tom's only spell of leave came in March or April 1916 when he had briefly returned to Royton for the last time.
On April 25th 1916 whilst part of a party putting out barbed wire in front of their positions Thomas was mortally wounded by machine gun fire and died shortly afterwards. Shortly afterwards a letter from Tom's platoon commander, addressed to Tom's mother (the author obviously not knowing she was dead) arrived at the Wrigley home:

"Dear Mrs Wrigley - I thought perhaps you might like a few lines to tell you how your son died, and how sorry we were to lose him. I know more sympathy seems very empty on these occasions, but I hope you and Mr.Wrigley will accept mine and believe it heartfelt. He was in my platoon, and quite one of the best men, and what is more, one to be relied on in an emergency. We had a job of wiring the trenches to do i.e putting barbed wire out in front, never a very nice job, and on that night, a machine gun was playing on us off and on, and in one of these bursts your son was hit. We all thought that it was a trifling wound, but apparently the bullet penetrated deeper than was thought, and he died shortly after being carried out of the trenches. I believe he did not suffer much as the wound was numb. Two of his chums went out with him till the end. I had known him a long time, and felt his loss very much, as did all the platoon, as he was always very cheery and happy. I won't say any more now, but if there is anything in connection with him that I can do for you, I shall be only too pleased to do it"

Tom's father Joseph Wrigley, by then living back in Oldham, died in 1951 aged 79. He is buried in Royton Cemetery along with Tom's mother Martha, his brother Joe and sister Annie.