Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Worsley, Thomas - Private (34637)

Pte Thomas Worsley
11th Battalion Lancashire Fusiliers,
Reported Missing 21st October 1916
and presumed to have been killed on this date

Thomas Worsley was born at Paradise Terrace, Haslingden on 15 September 1886. He was the son of Harry and Mary Elizabeth Worsley and was baptised at St. James Church, Haslingden on 25 April 1886. In 1901 Thomas was living at 8, Union Street, Haslingden with his parents and brother James. At that time he was employed as a cotton weaver. On 25 July 1915 he married Eunice Entwistle (the sister of William Entwistle) at Stonefold Church. Prior to the war he was a beamer at Grane Manufacuring Company’s Mill and was a member of the Haslingden Church Institute. He joined up on May 31st 1916, and went to the front, with the 11th Battalion Lancashire Fusiliers, the following August. He was reported missing on 21 October 1916 and is presumed to have been killed on that date. He was aged 31. At the time of his death his wife lived at 431, Blackburn Road, Acre, Haslingden. Thomas Worsley was killed during the Battle of Ancre Heights 1 October – 11 November 1916. Amongst the 26 other ranks missing was Private Thomas Worsley. Private Thomas Worsley was missing, presumed killed in action on 21 October 1916 but his body must have been found and identified and is buried in Regina Trench Cemetery, France. He is also on the Parish Church roll of honour

By 17 October 1916, Thiepval had fallen and the British front line ran roughly east to west along the Thiepval-Courcelette Ridge. In the right sector of the trenches, held by the 25th Division, of which the 11th Battalion, Lancashire Fusiliers were a part, the British had observation over the Ancre Valley towards Grandcourt. On the left, however, from Stuff Redoubt westwards, the Germans were on the crest of the ridge and therefore had the observation. Stuff Redoubt and Hessian Trench had been captured, but the situation was still unsatisfactory. The operations of 21st October were therefore designed to take Regina Trench, which would give the British the desired domination. The starting line was to be Hessian Trench, which had been the objective of the 9th Battalion in the Battle of Thiepval Ridge on 26 September 1916. The distance between Hessian and Regina Trenches varied from two to five hundred yards. The attack was to have taken place on 19 October but owing to heavy rain throughout the night before, the trenches and ground surfaces were in such a bad state that it had to be postponed until the 21 October.
The 11th Battalion’s objective was a stretch of Regina Trench five hundred yards long. As Hessian Trench east of Stuff Redoubt was very narrow, the Battalion was drawn up at Ovillers Post on the afternoon of 20 October in the order in which it was to attack. The first wave was to consist of “B” Company in line on the right, and “C” Company in line on the left; the second wave of “A” company in line with half the battalion bombers on each flank; and the third of “D” Company, also in line with two reserve Lewis Gun teams and two sections of the 74th Brigade Machine Gun Company. Two trench mortars were allotted the task of dealing with strong points on the right of the objective.
After organising itself thus, the battalion, which numbered four hundred, drew bombs, sandbags and similar stores from “K” Dump at Ovillers. Thence it made it’s way to Hessian Trench about 3am on the 21st. The rest of the night was spent in improving the trenches and the means of advance from them. By daybreak all was ready.
Shortly after midday the artillery barrage opened and the assaulting wave left Hessian Trench and moved up to it, followed at a distance of thirty yards by the second and third waves. At fixed intervals the barrage lifted until it finally reached Regina Trench. The waves kept close to it and suffered a number of casualties in consequence. When it lifted from Regina Trench, the leading wave rushed in. The majority of the garrison surrendered and seemed to have been taken more or less by surprise, as many had no equipment on and others were found in “funk-holes” still covered by groundsheets. But the enemy showed fight in two parts of the trench. On the extreme right thirty men under an officer resisted with rifle and bomb. A Lewis Gun was brought into action against them on a parapet and a bombing party worked down the trench. When about half the enemy had been killed or wounded, the rest surrendered.
By 12.50pm the whole objective had been captured and touch gained with the Norfolks on the right and the 9th Loyal North Lancashire’s on the left. Consolidation was later begun and was not interfered with by the enemy until next morning, when constant shelling continued until 4pm when the battalion was relieved.
The casualties of the 11th battalion were 2 officers killed and 3 wounded, 13 other ranks killed, 114 wounded and 26 missing.
From – “The Lancashire Fusiliers, 1914-1918”, by J. C. Latter.

Newspaper Memorial Notice:
In ever loving memory of Private Thomas Worsley, Lancashire Fusiliers, presumed dead on October 21st 1916.

"I little thought when you said Good-bye,
We were parting forever and you were to die;
The pain was hard, the blow severe,
To part with one I loved so dear."
"One of the best".

From his sorrowing wife, 431 Blackburn Road, Acre, Haslingden.