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Thomas Henry Thompson (1891-)

Shildon railway worker served with 6th Battalion DLI before re-enlisting into the Royal Navy

Born on 25 March 1891 in Eldon near Bishop Auckland, Thomas Henry Thompson was the son of Thomas and Lydia Thompson. Thomas and Lydia married in 1870 and had at least three children.

Unlike his father and older brother who worked as coal miners, after leaving school Thomas began working for the North Eastern Railways (NER). Thomas’ mother died in 1909 and at the time of the 1911 census Thomas was boarding in the household of William Littlefair in New Shildon. He was working as a labourer for the NER.

Thomas initially attested into the 6th Durham Light Infantry (DLI) Territorial Force on 6 April 1911. He married Priscilla Parkinson in 1913 and their son William was born the following year in November. As part of the territorial force, Thomas was probably at the annual training camp in North Wales when war broke out. He was embodied for service with the 6th DLI as a private with the service number 1365 on 5 August 1914. Following training, Thomas joined the Expeditionary Force in France on 20 April 1915.

Within days of his arrival in France Thomas was fighting in the Second Battle of Ypres. On 24 May 1915 he was admitted to Hospital in Wimereux suffering with the effects of gas poisoning. Following a few weeks treatment in hospital, he continued his recovery in a convalescent camp in Boulogne. In October, Thomas was transferred to number 3 Entrenching Battalion. At the beginning of April 1916 Thomas finished his service in France and returned to England. He was discharged on 7 April having served his term of engagement.

Following his discharge Thomas returned to his family in Shildon. A week later on 14 April Thomas returned to his job as a labourer on the railways. He continued to work for NER until the end of August 1916 before re-enlisting, this time into the Royal Navy. Thomas began his service in the Navy on 2 September 1916 with the service number K36105. He was based initially on HMS Victory II, a training depot for Royal Navy Divisions. Following this he was transferred to HMS Achilles on 26 February 1917, first serving as a stoker 2nd Class and then stoker 1st Class.

Thomas was demobilised in Portsmouth on 15 January 1919. He returned to his job as a sawmill labourer for NER at the end of January.

Thomas’ wife Priscilla served for a very short period in the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAACs) during 1918. An assistant cook in civilian life, Priscilla enlisted to serve as a cook and was attached to the 4th Reserve Battalion Black Watch. Enlisting on 13 February 1918 Priscilla only served for just over a month before being discharged due to breach of conditions.

In 1925 Thomas filed for a divorce from Priscilla, although the exact reasons for this are unknown. The co-respondent in the petition was William Griffith who records suggest Priscilla later married.

Thomas was re-married three years later to Mary Armstrong. Thomas and Mary had at least one child during their marriage; a daughter called Doris born in 1931. At the time of the 1939 Register Thomas is living with his wife Mary and their daughter in Darlington. He is working as a wood sawyer, probably in the production for use in the railway industry.

Civil Parish: Shildon

Birth date: 25-Mar-1891

Armed force/civilian: Navy

Residence: Eldon, Bishop Auckland (1891 Census)
9 Granville Terrace, Binchester, Bishop Auckland (1901 Census)
2 South Street, New Shildon (1911 Census, Service Record)
12 George Street, Shildon (NER Records)
101 Leyburn Road, Darlington (1939 Register)

Employment: Labourer, NER (1911 Census)
Wood Sawyer (1939 Register)

Family: Parents: Thomas Thompson, Lydia Thompson nee Fishwick
Siblings: William Thompson, Jane Ann Thompson
Wife: 1) Priscilla Thompson nee Parkinson 2) Mary H. Thompson nee Armstrong
Children: William Parkinson Thompson, Doris Thompson

Military service:

6th Battalion DLI
Service Number 1365
Royal Navy
Stoker 1st Class
Service Number K36105

Medal(s): British War Medal
Victory Medal
1914-15 Star

Gender: Male

Contributed by Fiona Johnson - Durham