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Remembered Today:

200284 Pte. Thomas Walter Guy Boucher

Andrew Marshall

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Another local man from me and following on with the recent tank corps queries that seem to be coming in at the moment.

Thomas Boucher was killed on 23rd November 1917 at Cambrai, he came from Northfleet in Kent and is a relative of one of my close friends.

My request for any information comes from the details that accompanied his photograph in the local paper after he was killed.

"Pte. Thomas Walter Guy Boucher of the Tank Corps, third son of Mr and Mrs J. W. Boucher, 7, Dover Road, Northfleet, was killed in action on the 23rd November in the great Battle of Cambrai. Deceased was educated at the Modern School, Gravesend, and was apprenticed to the engineering profession with Messrs. J and E Hall of Dartford. He enlisted in the Motor Machine Gun Corps in July 1915 a few weeks after he had attained his 18th birthday. When the Tank Corps was formed he was drafted into it. Before leaving this country for France in February 1916, his commanding officer gave him the opportunity of returning to his own trade, but he preferred to remain with his old comrades and to fight for his country. He went through the Battle of Messines, when the driver of the Tank, the crew of which he was a member, was wounded early in the action. Pte. Boucher took his place and guided his tank to its objective and brought it back with its crew into safety. On August 16th, the officer in charge of the Tank and one of the gunners were killed, a sergeant died of wounds and three other members of the crew were wounded, leaving only the driver and Pte. Boucher of the crew intact. Notification of Pte. Boucher's death had been received in a letter sent to his parents by their second son, who hearing that his brother was in the vicinity where he was located fighting, made enquiries concerning him, only to learn of his brother's death. He was informed that the Tank was hit and that his brother was the first to find out the defect. It is presumed that Pte. Boucher alighted from the Tank to deal with the defect, and in his effort to save it and the crew, was wounded in the abdomen, and the section officer informed the brother that deceased passed peacefully away. Pte. Boucher, who was only 20 years of age, was the youngest of three sons of Mr and Mrs Boucher serving their country. One of the remaining two is in the R.G.A. and the other in an A.S.C. supply column, and both are in France."

I have attempted to identify the men mentioned in the above extract and these are my results so far.

There are no casualties for the Tank Corps on the 16th August.

I searched SDGW for Tank Corps for the whole of August and got 49 returns, from this list I went throught the CWGC and found men who were in "B" Bn. Tank Corps.

The nearest I can get are these men that may be the men mentioned above

75228 Pte. Wilson Victor Carlson "B" Bn. Tank Corps. KIA 23rd August 1917. Tyne Cot Memorial.

Second Lieutenant Ernest Vincent Colley "B" Bn. Tank Corps. KIA 23rd August 1917 - the only officer listed in "B" Bn. on CWGC. Tyne Cot Memorial.

(this one is the one that ties in the least)

205774 Sgt. Henry Lewis Burt, 18th Coy. "F" Bn. Tank Corps. DOW 24th August 1917. Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery.

Are these three men the Officer and Gunner killed and the Sergeant who died of wounds? These are the only ones that I can get a connection with "B" Bn. Tank Corps (except Sgt. Burt). Can anyone shed any further details or help with avenues for more research?



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  • 4 years later...

Liddell Hart records that II Corps carried out an attack on 16th August towards the Gheulevlt feature - this was apparently a repeat on a previous (failed) attack on 10th August.

Liddell Hart records that the attack on 16th August foundered in the mud. The tanks in support of II Corps were 2nd Tank Bde which included B Battalion, Liddell Hart does not however mention B bn by name

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I can tell you a bit more about the tank that was commanded by 2/Lt Colley. It was a Mark IV, probably a Female, serial number 2520. Its crew number was B3 and the tank bore the name "Blue Bird". It belonged to 1 Section 4 Company B Battalion. This information comes from an undated but contemporary notebook in the B Battalion records held at The Tank Museum, Bovington, Dorset. I have no record of it after 23 August 1917.

There is a summary of the Battle History Sheet for this tank for 23.8.17 in file CAB45/200 at The National Archives, Kew. I am not certain that this gives the names of the commander or his crew, but it does confirm that it was still B3 on that date, the day that 2/Lt Colley was killed.

Of course none of this will help if the unnamed officer in Pte Boucher's tank wasn't 2/Lt Colley.

Just a thought, but could the confusion in dates have happened because the 16th and the 23rd are exactly a week apart? I get confused about which week is which, and I don't suffer the stresses that these people went through.


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