John Thomas Lomas
Researched and written by Sheila CLARKE
John Thomas Lomas was always called Tom by his family and friends and was the eldest surviving son of John Lomas and his wife Sarah Ellen. He was born in 1893, his elder brother George having died the previous year aged four months.
By the time of the 1901 census, the family was living at 5 May Terrace Cottages, Edial, Burntwood, in Staffordshire. Tom’s father John worked as a dataller in a coal mine. His job entailed maintenance work in the pit, and he was paid a daily rate. Later he worked as a fireman at the pit.
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Whilst the family were living at Edial Tom had started school. On 1st November 1900, when he was seven, he was enrolled at Burntwood No. 1 Board School in Burntwood Road, which has now become a housing development known as Scholars’ Gate into which the old school house has been incorporated. He remained at school until 27th October 1905 when he was twelve years of age, presumably to start work.
Tom’s Grandfather Isaac had worked as a miner, but before Tom was born he had become an insurance agent, and later opened a grocery store in Chasetown. Tom worked as a grocer’s assistant in his grandfather’s shop in the High Street, and was listed in his grandparent’s household in the 1911 census
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The charity shop which collects for the orphanages in Romania now occupies the premises (2010). When the 1914-1918 War broke out John and Sarah had ten children, of which six survived infancy, and they were living at 86 Queen Street, Chasetown with their younger children.
By 1914 Tom had become engaged to be married to Sarah THOIMPSON, daughter of Thomas THOMPSON, a miner. He and his wife Sarah also lived in Chasetown.
Tom joined The Royal Warwickshire Regiment possibly at their recruitment office in Lichfield. He was in the 10th Battalion, which was formed in September 1914 as part of K2 attached to the 57 Brigade, 19th Western Division. Tom was probably in the 4th Platoon when sent to France on 17th July 1915.
The names K1 and K2 were given to each successive 100,000 volunteers to the British Kitchener’s Army.
During this time he became a Lance Corporal. The 19th (Western division) were under the command of Lieutenant General Henry Rawlinson. They captured La Boiselle on 4th July 1916. The 57th Brigade was involved in the attacks on High Wood which lasted from 20th until 25th July 1916; and the Battle of Poziers, 23July 1916.
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Tom was killed on 23rd July 1916 so it is possible that he was killed during one of these battles
The Warwickshire Regiment War diaries which are deposited at the National Archives begin on the 27th July 1916, so too late to mention the battle in which Tom died. However the War diaries of the 8th Battalion the Gloucester regiment mention that on 22nd July 1916 they, together with the 10th Royal Warwickshire Regiment, and 7th South Lancashire Regiment were preparing to attack the German Switch line cutting through the north of High Wood and running south of Martin Puich. The attack took place at 1.00 am, presumably on 23rd July. The attack failed, and there were 186 casualties among other ranks; whether this referred to Gloucester casualties, or included those from the other regiments, is not stated.
Tom was one of 857 men from the 10th Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment who died in The Great War. Altogether 11,610 soldiers of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment perished during that war. Tom is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial to The Missing, erected to remember those who died on the Somme before 20th March 1918, and who have no known grave.
THE THIEPVAL MEMORIAL TO THE MISSING OF THE SOMME
On the high ground overlooking the Somme River in France, where some of the heaviest fighting of the First World War took place, stands the Thiepval Memorial. Towering over 45 metres in height, it dominates the landscape for miles around. It is the largest Commonwealth memorial to the missing in the world. The memorial commemorates more than 72,000 men of British and South African forces who died in the Somme sector before 20 March 1918 and have no known grave. Over 90% of those commemorated died between July and November 1916.
the memorial was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens who is considered by some to be one the greatest architects of the early 20th Century. Lutyens was commissioned to design many of the Commission’s cemeteries and memorials of the First World War. His design for the memorial consists of a series of intersecting arches which increase in height and proportionate width. The 16 piers formed have 64 stone-panelled sides carved with names. Each panel of Portland stone, lists the individual commemoration by regiment and rank and then listed by surname. Above are stone laurel wreaths naming significant places on the Somme battlefields of 1915 to March 1918. Since the completion of the memorial in 1932, the name panels have been amended to add names or remove those whose remains have been identified.
Following lengthy negotiations about the site, construction at Thiepval began in 1928 and was finished in 1932. Foundations were dug to a depth of 30 feet, uncovering wartime tunnels and unexploded ordnance. The memorial also serves as an Anglo-French Battle Memorial in recognition of the joint nature of the 1916 offensive and a small cemetery containing equal numbers of Commonwealth and French graves lies at the foot of the memorial. Notable commemorations include seven holders of the Victoria Cross.
Behind the memorial is the Thiepval Anglo-French Cemetery. The cemetery contains the graves of 300 Commonwealth servicemen and 300 French servicemen. The majority of these men died during the Battle of the Somme, but some also fell in the battles near Loos and Le Quesnel.
The Thiepval Memorial is just off the D151, close to the main crossroads with the D73 in the village of Thiepval. The D73 runs from Poizieres on the main Bapaume to Albert road (D929) to the D50 close to Beaumont-Hamel. Please note to access this site you should follow Rue de L'Ancre from Thiepval village. Each year a major ceremony is held at the memorial on 1 July to mark the first day of the Battle of the Somme.
The Panel numbers (or Pier and Face) quoted at the end of each Register entry relate to the panels dedicated to the Regiment with which the casualty served. In some instances where a casualty is recorded as attached to another Regiment, his name may alternatively appear within their Regimental Panel (or Pier and Face). Please refer to the on-site Memorial Register Introduction to determine the alternative panel numbers (or Pier and Face) if you do not find the name within the quoted Panels (or Pier and Face).
On 1 July 1916, supported by a French attack to the south, 13 divisions of Commonwealth forces launched an offensive on a line from north of Gommecourt to Maricourt. Despite a preliminary bombardment lasting seven days, the German defences were barely touched and the attack met unexpectedly fierce resistance. Losses were catastrophic and with only minimal advances on the southern flank, the initial attack was a failure. In the following weeks, huge resources of manpower and equipment were deployed in an attempt to exploit the modest successes of the first day. However, the German Army resisted tenaciously and repeated attacks and counter attacks meant a major battle for every village, copse and farmhouse gained. At the end of September, Thiepval was finally captured. The village had been an original objective of 1 July. Attacks north and east continued throughout October and into November in increasingly difficult weather conditions. The Battle of the Somme finally ended on 18 November with the onset of winter. In the spring of 1917, the German forces fell back to their newly prepared defences, the Hindenburg Line, and there were no further significant engagements in the Somme sector until the Germans mounted their major offensive in March 1918.
John Thomas LOMAS is also remembered on The Chasetown War Memorial, which can be seen in Chasetown Memorial Park, High Street, Chasetown.
Tom’s fiancée, Sarah Thompson, married in June 1921.
Item, Source and Credit
1. Photograph John Thomas Lomas © Alan Whitehouse
2. Photographs reverse © Alan Whitehouse
3. Children of J T Lomas © Sheila Clarke (BFHG)
4. Ancestors of J T Lomas© Sheila Clarke (www.ancestry.co.uk)
5. Extract from 1901 census © Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.co.uk)
6. Extract from 1901 census © Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.co.uk)
7. Extract from 1911 census © Find My Past (www.findmypast.co.uk)
8. Extract from 1911 census © Find My Past (www.findmypast.co.uk)
9. Photograph of John and Sarah Lomas © Alan Whitehouse
10. Photograph John Lomas Snr. © Alan Whitehouse
11. Photographs reverse © Alan Whitehouse
12. Soldiers Died in the Great War © Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.co.uk)
13. 19th (Western) Division © 19th (Western) Division (www.warpath.orbat.com)
14. 19th (Western) Division © 19th (Western) Division (www.warpath.orbat.com)
15, 19th (Western) Division © 19th (Western) Division (www.warpath.orbat.com)
16. War Diary Intelligence Record © The National Archives (http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/)
17. Death Record for John Thomas Lomas © Commonwealth War Graves Commission (www.cwgc.org/)
18. Thiepval Memorial © CWGC
19. Cemetery Location © World War I Battlefields ( www.ww1battlefields.co.uk)
20. Burntwood War Memorial © Alan Betts (BFHG)
21. Burntwood War Memorial © Alan Betts (BFHG)