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Remembered Today:

Cadet honouring a Military Medal winner


RMC

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Hello,

My son is a member of the Cadet Force and we have persuaded the school battlefields trip to take a detour to visit Pernes miitary cemetery in a couple of weeks to lay a wreath at the grave of Pte Thomas Farnworth MM240412 1 / 4th Battalion Loyal North Lancs (Later the 55th (West Lancashire) Division.

I have searched The London Gazette to try and get some information on how my Great Uncle came to be awarded the Military Medal but his name does not come up on the word search.All we know for certain is that he was killed at Willow Drain on April 14th 1918 as part of the battle of Givenchy.

Any help at all with this greatly appreciated.

Kind regards

Alan and Steven Thomas Farnworth

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Thomas Farnworth N Lancs R, N Lancs R 1992, 240412

Posted to France on 26 June 1915

No mention of the MM on the ancestry MIC but sometimes the details are recorded only on a separate card (should be available form the national archives).

Name: Thomas Farnworth Birth Place: Ince, Lancs Death Date: 14 May 1918 Death Location: France & Flanders Enlistment Location: Bolton Rank: Private Regiment: Loyal North Lancashire Regiment Battalion: 1/4th Battalion (Territorial Force) Number: 240412 Type of Casualty: Died of wounds Theatre of War: Western European Theatre Comments: M.M
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240412 Private Thomas FARNWORTH

1/4th Battn. Loyal North Lancashire Regt.(T.F.)

Date of recommendation: 19/04/18

Award recommended: Military Medal

"For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty at GIVENCHY on the 9th April, 1918. This man whilst under heavy enemy fire, maintained his post and performed excellent work with a Lewis Gun. He kept the gun in action despite enemy sniping, which killed one of the team and wounded a sergeant. he was instrumental in causing heavy casualties amongst the enemy. He showed marked courage and steadfastness, doing much to encourage his team."

Also, with regard to his death, the Battalion history gives the following:

On the 14th, A Company carried out an operation against the enemy's front line post in WILLOW DRAIN, penetrating his line at one point and establishing a block which they held till about 10.30 p.m., being then obliged to withdraw by strong counter-attack. The front and support lines were heavily bombarded from 6.15 p.m. till about 11 p.m., harassing fire being kept up until 2 a.m.

The raiding party sustained heavy casualties. Going across No Man's Land — a mass of shell holes — Second Lieutenant Ibbotson was wounded and then killed by a shell; Second Lieutenant Milne was killed by a bomb while passing through the enemy wire; and Second Lieutenant Cooper was wounded by a bullet in the throat, causing the loss of his voice, but gallantly went on writing his orders in his pocket book and carrying on until killed by a second bullet. Two years afterwards his parents received this pocket book. The last entries are as follow:—

"Remainder of section to follow L C. Price Tell Sergeant."

"You have done damn well, but you aren't finished yet! Read this to him."

"Bomb the Boche out. See that gap in the parapet? I want to get the whole section there."

"Can we get a message back to Capt. Swaine? I suggest let one man take Farnworth back and also message. Tell C. A Co..."

So it ends.

There is no record of the other casualties, but they numbered about 50.

This raid was supported by a creeping barrage, the ground in the neighbourhood being blanketed throughout by artillery and Stokes' mortars.

I hope that helps.

Ken

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All we know for certain is that he was killed at Willow Drain on April 14th 1918 as part of the battle of Givenchy.

His Medal Index Card shows he died of wounds and CWGC cites his date of death as 18th MAY 1918.

As previously noted, he was originally given the Reg't No. 1992 and was entitled to the 1914-15 Star having been in France from 26th June 1915.

Soldiers Died in the Great War shows:-

Name: Thomas Farnworth. Birth Place: Ince, Lancs. Death Date: 14 May 1918.

Death Location: France & Flanders. Enlistment Location: Bolton. Rank: Private.

Regiment: Loyal North Lancashire Regiment. Battalion: 1/4th Battalion (Territorial Force)

Number: 240412. Type of Casualty: Died of wounds. Theatre of War: Western European Theatre

Comments: M.M

I see you now have the citation details....

which tends to indicate 13th May 1918 as the date that Thomas was fatally wounded, as mentioned by 2nd Lt Cooper, dying a few days later...

Name: COOPER, WILLIAM RANDOLPH. Rank: Second Lieutenant

Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment. Unit Text: "A" Coy. 4th Bn.

Age: 21. Date of Death: 13/05/1918

Additional information: Son of Ernest Nightingale Cooper and Martha Annie Cooper (nee Briercliffe), of Nether Shatton, Bamford, Derbyshire. Native of Bolton.

Grave/Memorial Reference: II. B. 11. Cemetery: POST OFFICE RIFLES CEMETERY, FESTUBERT

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Thank you so much for this ...it means a lot. Would be really interested if anyone has the likely answers to a few new questions this information has thrown up.

We have had two stories passed down in the family...the assumption was always that Thomas died in the same incident that he was awarded the medal and we didn't know which was right.

The first story was that he was awarded the medal for defending a pill box (which could be the case from the citation)....can anyone tell me if a "Lewis gun" is likely to have been used in a pill box.

The second story was that he was awarded a medal for attacking a pill box (this now seems to be the way he died...rather than what he got the medal for).

The notes from Second Lieutenant Cooper's not book say "I suggest let one man take Farnworth back and also a message"....would it have been normal to take a dead man back in such heavy shelling as the battalion diary date and notebook indicate he was shot on 14/4/1918?

Medal index card says died of his wounds (is that phrase used when someone is killed on the battlefield...or if they are wounded and die later)?

The CWGC (don't know what this stands for) cites his death as 18/5/18

Soldier died in the Great War has a date of death of 14/5/1918 Are any of these publications generally more accurate than others?

Sorry to go on but the last question is....the card which had his medal on has been lost.....is there any other place where a photo of Thomas might be retrieved....long shot I know?

Thanks again guys

Alan and Steven Thomas Farnworth

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To answer a couple of your questions, the order to carry him back wouldn't have been referring to a dead man, certainly not in the heat of battle. he was clearly wounded, but not so badly that it took more than one man to help him back.

A Lewis gun was the predecessor of the WW2 Bren gun, i.e. a light machine gun that could be fired by one man, assisted by others to supply ammunition. It could be used in defence or attack, and he could well have been supporting the attack when he received his fatal wounds.

He was recommended for the Military Medal on 19th April, 1918, and at that time the British were on the defensive during a period of intensive attacks by the Germans. The Loyals were defending and wouldn't have had concrete bunkers. Whilst there is no mention of a bunker in the reports of the attack in which he received his fatal wounds it is far more likely that this is where the story of the bunker originated. It wouldn't take much during repeated telling of the story over the years for it to change from an enemy post, which could also have been described as a "strongpoint", to a pill box.

Ken

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Like everyone here, we're just glad if we can contribute something useful that you may not have known, or clarify what is known.

Sorry, I should have realised that as "newbies" you wouldn't necessarily know of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission Debt of Honour website....

That is generally regarded as the most accurate from my point of view (but like anything involving humans, it may have mistakes, but they are scrupulous at correcting with sufficient proof).

Soldiers Died in the Great War is a CD or accessible through various Family History websites, or free at your library. That generally is fairly accurate, but is known to have some flaws.

War Diaries SHOULD be useful for corroboration, but especially in March and April 1918 when the British Army was facing the great German offensive after transferring men and artillery from the Eastern Front after the collapse of Russia, record keeping was somewhat lower on the scale of stemming the attacks!

As an example, IPT provided a link to the War Diary in which a 2nd Lt Hampson was noted as being killed, whereas on 14th May 1918 a Private 29415 Walter Hampson was killed....

So, generally, it's a question of not taking any one source as Gospel, but checking as to which is most likely.

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Thanks again people. Have now been able to put together a powerful information pack which is going to Steven's history teacher this morning...it will almost certainly clinch the school trips diversion to Pernes cemetry and finally....93 years later one of our family will be able to honour one of the many who sacrificed their life for this country.

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Medal index card says died of his wounds (is that phrase used when someone is killed on the battlefield...or if they are wounded and die later)?

Alan and Steven Thomas Farnworth

Just to answer this question about the phrases used:

Killed on the battlefield? = KIA (Killed in Action)

Wounded and died later? = DOW (Died of Wounds)

Regards

CGM

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There is a memorial cross dedicated to the 55th (West Lancashire) Division at Givenchy-les-la-Bassee, which might interest the touring party. [The village also has a Memorial Hall donated by the city of Liverpool post WW1, destroyed in WW2 and later rebuilt.]

D

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