Date of Death:06/07/1915
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Tom Kempster was born in Shaw in 1893, his parents were James and Sarah. He had three siblings, the two whose names we know were Harold (who survived the 1914 sinking of the HMS Pegasus) and Mary Elizabeth. At the time of the 1901 census they were living at Kershaw Street, Shaw. By 1911 Tom's parents had moved to Manchester and he was boarding along with Mary Elizabeth with the Taylor family (possibly relatives - his mother's maiden name was Taylor) at 114 Rochdale Road, Royton. Tom had moved back to his native Shaw by 1914 but he appears on the Royton War Memorial due to his parents having moved to Royton themselves by this time. They lived at 26 Middleton Road. Tom is one of the group of men who appear on the memorials of both Royton and the Crompton one in Shaw.
He joined the army as a regular early in 1914 before the outbreak of war. He was sent to France in late November 1914 as a reinforcement to the 2nd Battalion of the Border Regiment who had been fighting there since the start of October and had fought at the First Battle of Ypres. By the time Tom joined the battalion over half the men were now replacements for the pre war regulars who had already been killed or wounded. After only a short period with them he was invalided home in December with frost bite and rheumatism. There's a fair chance Tom was still with the 2nd Borders at the time of their abortive attack near Sailly on December 18th in which the battalion suffered 112 casualties.
After recuperation Tom was reassigned to the 1st Borders who were on their way to Gallipoli having been stationed in Burma prior to the start of hostilities. If Tom was at Sailly he would have had a much greater idea of what was waiting for them than many of the old hands around him. The day they landed at Gallipoli on April 25th they lost 27 killed and 81 wounded and within a few days those numbers had doubled.
There is a good chance that Tom received his wounds on June 27th in the battalion's last engagement of note before his death. General Hamilton described the success of the attack by the 1st Borders on a Turkish defensive position:
"at 10:45 a small Turkish advanced work in the Saghir Dere known as Boomerang Redoubt was assaulted. This little fort, which was very strongly sited and protected by extra strong wire entanglements, has long been a source of trouble.After special bombardment by trench mortars, and while bombardment of surrounding trenches was at it's height, part of The Border Regiment at the exact moment prescribed leapt from their trenches as one man, like a pack of hounds, and, pouring out of cover, raced across and took the work most brilliantly".
While that attack was being successfully pressed home other men were clearing a neighbouring trench and putting up a defensive barricade with barbed wire across a ravine. They had only shortly finished this when a large body of Turkish soldiers launched a counter attack, they were cut down by the Borders machine gun and rifle fire. Further assaults were fought off with heavy losses suffered by the attackers.
The battalion's losses were over 160 killed, wounded and missing. It seems likely that Tom was wounded during this fighting, if not then it would have been by sniper or shell in the following days. All that can be said with any certainty after that is that he died of his wounds on July 6th on a hospital ship and was buried at sea.
Back home in Royton, his parents had first seen Tom's name in a casualty list published on July 31st. His father wrote to the War Office and on August 9th received the reply that nothing was known of Tom's death. They later received confirmation that he was indeed dead.