Thorne War Memorial lists the names of almost 150 men who fought and died in the two World Wars. Driving back to Thorne from my home in the Netherlands takes me through Belgium and Northern France and as the towns of Ieper and Dunkirk flash by, I often wonder whether any of the names on the memorial are linked to the landscape over which it is now so easy to cross.
New technologies are making it possible to peer back into time and connect people and places, and these pages are the beginnings of a web of information on those from Thorne who didn't return from the wars. The links shown below lead to a list of the names on the memorial which are in turn linked to entries in the Commonwealth War Graves Commission web site. Sometimes it has been possible to find additional information on an individual, and further links are provided.
Not all the names have yet been linked, and indeed there may be erroneous links. Any additions, corrections or further information on those mentioned on the memorial would be gratefully received...
C Tattersall & Dave - contact
When the then Mayor of Thorne/Moorends, Cllr. Tony Brookes, laid the wreath at the town's war memorial on Remembrance Sunday 2009 he decided to personally carry the message of remembrance to as many of the graves/memorials of the 113 men who died in the conflict as he could during his term in office. He planned to leave a small wooden remembrance cross with the serviceman's name at each grave/memorial inscribed 'from the people of Thorne'
On the following day he travelled to Belgium visiting the graves/memorials of 29 of the men of Thorne. These included 5 men whose names are listed on the Menin Gate at Ypres and a further 7 recorded at the nearby Tyne Cot Memorial. These memorials alone record the names of over 89,000 soldiers who died in the Ypres area and have no known grave. The visit took in several cemeteries from Lijssenthoek in which two Thorne men were laid to rest amongst almost 10,000 graves to Cabin Hill Cemetery which has only 50 burials including Thorne man, John Darvill.
In 2010 Tony made two visits to France where he remembered a further 64 Thorne men who died in the conflict. Of these 9 were listed on the Thiepval Memorial which commemorates over 76,000 men who died in the Somme region and have no known grave. Tony was able to remember two Thorne brothers John and Horace Pilgrim who emigrated to Canada in the early years of the century for a new life in farming. They were killed while serving with Canadian Regiments and their names are recorded side-by-side on the stunning Canadian Memorial to the missing at Vimy Ridge. He also visited the grave of James Oliver, Thorne's oldest casualty (45 years), who is buried at Sangatte, near Calais.
Tony also visited graves/memorials of 10 Thorne men in England. Two of them are buried in St. Nicholas Churchyard in Thorne; a further five seamen are commemorated on the Naval Memorials at Chatham and Portsmouth. Edmund Stevenson, who was severely injured in Belgium, died from his wounds in hospital in Guildford and is buried there.
Tony has been researching the backgrounds of the 113 men from Thorne for several years to enable him to update the website. His next project is to turn his research into a book. He has gleaned information from newspaper archives, almanacs, censuses and service records and war diaries at the National Archives at Kew. Employment of the men before military service gives a picture of life in Thorne at the time. Many of the men were employed on keel boats which plied their trade from Thorne to Hull, others on the railways or in farming. Several men were involved in sinking Thorne Colliery, others worked at the long gone Thorne Brewery and Dunston's shipyard. Geoffrey Kenyon, who died on the Somme, was a solicitor in Thorne, along with his brother Harold, who officially 'unveiled' Thorne War Memorial on Remembrance Day 1921. The solicitor's firm survives today as Kenyon, Son and Craddock.
The newspaper archives and war diaries tell poignant tales about the casualties of war. Jonas Kaye, a Thorne tobacconist, was killed by shrapnel while trying to save a wounded colleague near Poelcapelle. Albert Butler, a shipyard apprentice, was one of 19,000 British soldiers who died on the first day of the Battle of the Somme, 1st July 1916. The war diary shows that he was one of 680 men of his battalion (8th York and Lancaster) who went 'over the top' at 7.30 am that day. When the men re-grouped the next day only 68 could be accounted for. Not all casualties resulted from fighting. John Woodcock, an apprentice tin smith, was killed in a rock fall at a quarry while collecting chalk to reinforce trench parapets. He was one of over 30 Thorne men who served with the King's Own Yorkshire light Infantry. Several men also died from influenza which swept through Europe in late 1918, including Lieutenant William Crampton M.C., Royal Field Artillery. He was one of only three commissioned officers commemorated on the Thorne War Memorial and the only casualty to be awarded the Military Cross.
Despite his research, Tony has not identified all of the names on the memorial as they are difficult to match with census data or Commonwealth War Graves Commission lists. These include a T. Smith, one of 614 servicemen with this initial and surname who died in the conflict! The other mysteries are G. Clark and G. Hodgson. If any relatives can provide Tony with information about any the 113 men on the Thorne memorial please get in touch.
Tony can provide photographs of graves/memorials for 104 of the men on the memorial for families who have not been able to see a relatives grave.
LATES NEWS - Sep. 2015
HEADSTONE FOR THORNE WWI HERO 97 YEARS AFTER HIS DEATH
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) has erected a headstone in St. Nicholas Churchyard Extension to commemorate a WWI soldier who died in 1918. Tom Ernest Butler was born in 1892 and served his apprenticeship at Dunston’s shipyard. He served with the York and Lancaster Regiment from 1914 until he was invalided out in March 1918 with blindness in one eye. Tom had served gallantly in France, Belgium and Gallipoli, winning the Military Medal for his bravery.
Tom died in July 1918 from pneumonia and was not commemorated by C.W.G.C. as he was not a serving soldier when he died. Former Thorne Grammar headteacher, Tony Brookes, was researching the men listed on Thorne War Memorial and obtained Tom’s death certificate which gave the primary cause of death as ‘gas on active service’. Tony took up the case with C.W.G.C. and the Ministry of Defence agreed that Tom’s death was a direct result of his active service. The C.W.G.C. accepted Tom for commemoration in November 2011 and promised that a headstone would be erected in the graveyard where he had been buried in 1918. The headstone was finally erected this week, close to Tom’s parents’ headstone.
Tom’s brothers Joseph and Albert also died in WWI and are commemorated with him on the town’s war memorial. Tony Brookes is trying to contact members of the Butler family to arrange a dedication ceremony at the new headstone. He has also been successful in convincing C.W.G.C. to commemorate another Thorne man, Albert Venus, who was killed at Ypres in 1915 and will soon have his name inscribed on the Menin Gate.
|Once more I stand neath leafy boughs,
And bow my head in silent prayer.
For those who gave their lives for us,
in far off hostile fields somewhere.
As symbolic wreaths are laid,
By Comrades, Children and Town Mayor.
A solitary Bugle’s played,
we gather here to show we care.
WE WILL REMEMBER THEM.