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Henry Thompson

Date of birth: 1881
Date of death: 14.12.1915
Area: Brotherton
Regiment: King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry
Family information: Son of Jane Bellamy (formerly Thompson) of Mill Road, Brotherton and the late John Henry Thompson
Rank: Private
Service number: 15801

War Service

Harry enlisted in the 10th (Service) Battalion of the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry (K.O.Y.L.I.). This was the same battalion as Alma Pickering (see earlier account) and they would have shared some experiences.
The 10th was attached to the 64th Brigade in the 21st Division.
This Division was established in September 1914, as part of Army Order 388 authorising Kitchener's Third New Army, K3. The units of the Division initially concentrated in the Tring area, spending some time in camp at Halton Park before winter necessitated a move into local billets in Tring, Aylesbury, Leighton Buzzard, High Wycombe and Maidenhead. The artillery was at High Wycombe and Berkhamsted, RE at Chesham, and ASC at Dunstable.
In May 1915 the infantry moved to huts at Halton Park, the artillery went to Aston Clinton (One brigade staying at Berkhamsted) and the RE to Wendover. Rifles were received in late June 1915 and after firing their first course the infantry moved from 9 August to Witley Camp. Lord Kitchener inspected the Division on the march on 12 August.
Advanced parties embarked for France began on 2nd September and the main body began to cross the Channel five days later. Units moved to assemble near Tilques, completing concentration on 13 September. The Division's first experience was truly appalling. Having been in France for only a few days, lengthy forced marches brought it into the reserve for the British assault at Loos. GHQ planning left it too far behind to be a useful reinforcement on the first day, but it was sent into action on 26 September, whereupon it suffered over 3,800 casualties for very little gain.
Harry Thompson died as a result of his wounds on 14th December 1915.
At the time there was no specific battle or action taking place but the site of his burial indicates that he was in the area known as Flanders when his wounds must have occurred. There would have been much non-specific action e.g. small arms, shelling, enfilade, sniper fire, on a daily basis up and down the front and would have caused many casualties and deaths.
Harry was buried in the Bailleul Communal Cemetery Extension (Nord or North). Bailleul was occupied on 14th October 1914 by the 19th Brigade and the 4th Division of the British Army and it became an important railhead, air depot and hospital centre.

Family Life

The Thompson’s were not a Brotherton family insofar as none of them were born in the village. Henry or, to use the name he always seemed to be called, Harry, was born in York in 1881. His parents were John Henry, also born in York, and Jane (nee Nelson) who was born in Murton which is just to the north east of York and now famous for its Yorkshire Museum of Farming.
They were married in 1880 in York and prior to that Jane had been employed as a ‘Housemaid’ in Fullford. Her parents still lived in Murton and her father was a ‘Railway Porter’.
In 1881 3 month old Harry and his parents were living at 18 Bilton Street, York near Walmgate Bar. John Henry was a ‘Joiner’ by trade. The couple seem to have had no more children and in 1891 the three of them were living in Lady Peckett’s Yard close to the centre of the city. Lady Peckett’s Yard was named after a former Lord Mayor of York and is one of what is now termed a ‘snickelway’ - similar to a ‘snicket’ or a ‘ginnel’.
John Henry died in early 1901 at the age of 44. A couple of months later, when the census was carried out, Jane and Harry were still in Lady Peckett’s Yard and had a lodger. He was 26 year old George Grace and he had been born in Brotherton. Both he and Harry were ‘General Labourers’.
George Grace must have been the connecting link between the Thompson’s and Brotherton for, within a year, Jane had married Fred Bellamy in Pontefract. Fred was born in Denfield, Derbyshire and was a miner. However, he had been in Brotherton since before the 1891 census as his youngest child, Elizabeth, had been born in Brotherton in 1890. He was widowed in 1896 on the death of his wife Mary. In 1911,
Harry Thompson was living with his mother and Fred Bellamy on the North Road. Harry was employed as a ‘pitman on the surface screens’.

Bailleul Communal Cemetery with rows of gravestones Bailleul Communal Cemetery

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