HOWE Thomas Robert 1893 – 1917


19551 Corporal Thomas Robert Howe, 10th Battalion, The Yorkshire Regiment died of wounds 26 October 1917, aged 24.  He is commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial[1] and the Witton Park war memorials.

Family Details

Thomas Robert Howe was born in 1893.[2]  His parents have not yet been identified.  In 1901, Thomas R. Howe was recorded as living with his aunt, Alice Raine, a 53 years old widow, at Thompson Street, Witton Park.  Her 12 years old son Robert and 12 years old daughter Jane also lived there.[3]  In 1911, 17 years old Thomas, was a boarder living with Mathew and Mary Martin and their 9 years old daughter Elizabeth Alice at New Row, Escomb.  Mathew worked as a coal miner (hewer) and Thomas as a pony driver.[4]

In 1914, Thomas R. Howe married Jane E. Whitfield.[5]  Jane E. Howe lived at Carwood Street, Witton Park after the war.[6]

Military Details

Thomas R. Howe enlisted into the Yorkshire Regiment, being given the service number 19551.  The Yorkshire Regiment was known as Alexandra, Princes of Wales’ Own and as the Green Howards.  He was promoted to Corporal.

Believed to be 19551 Private Thomas R. Howe, Yorkshire Regiment

The 10th (Service) Battalion, the Yorkshire Regiment was formed at Richmond 30 September 1914 as part of K3, Kitchener’s volunteer army.  In October 1914, it came under the orders of 62nd Brigade, 21st Division.[7]  The 62nd Brigade comprised the following units:[8]

  • 12 Bn., The Northumberland Fusiliers
  • 13 Bn., The Northumberland Fusiliers
  • 8th Bn., The East Yorkshire Regiment left November 1915
  • 10th Bn., The Yorkshire Regiment
  • 1st Bn., The Lincolnshire Regiment joined November 1915
  • 62nd Machine Gun Company March 1916 – February 1918
  • 62nd Trench Mortar Battery formed June 1916
  • 3/ 4 Bn., The Queens joined 9 August 1917, disbanded February 1918

10 September 1915:  The Division landed at Boulogne.  Private T.R. Howe entered France 8 October 1915, [9] just as the Battle of Loos was coming to an end.  The Division was on the Western Front for the whole war seeing action in several phases of the Battle of the Somme 1917, and in 1917, up until his death, the following engagements:[10]

14 March – 5 April: The German Retreat to the Hindenburg Line

The Arras Offensive including:

  • 9 – 14 April: The First Battle of the Scarpe
  • 3 – 4 May: The Third Battle of the Scarpe
  • The flanking operations around Bullecourt

The Third Battle of Ypres including:

  • 26 September – 3 October: The Battle of Polygon Wood
  • 4 October: The Battle of Broodseinde
  • 26 October – 10 November: he Second Battle of Passchendaele

The Third Battle of Ypres (Passchendaele) 31 July – 10 November 1917 – an overview

The offensive had 8 distinctive phases:

  • Battle of Pilckem, 31 July to 2 August
  • Battle of Langemarck, 16 to 18 August
  • Battle of the Menin Road, 20 to 25 September
  • Battle of Polygon Wood, 26 September to 3 October
  • Battle of Broodseinde, 4 October
  • Battle of Poelcapelle, 9 October
  • First Battle of Passchendaele, 12 October
  • Second Battle of Passchendaele, 26 October to 10 November

Many Divisions visited the Ypres Salient during the Third Battle of Ypres and on more than one occasion.  A total of 54 Divisions were thrown into battle.  The offensive cost the British nearly 310,000 casualties, the Germans slightly less and it consumed all of the available reserves. 

18 July:  a massive artillery bombardment commenced. 

31 July:  the attack commenced when the British Fifth Army attacked north-east from the Ypres salient.  Initially, good progress was made but a strong counter-attack resulted in only a 2-mile advance.  Heavy rain fell on the first night flooding the swampy ground whose drainage system had been totally destroyed by the 10-day bombardment.  As a result, the whole operation was held up but offensive actions still took place. 

The 10th Bn., Yorkshire Regiment[11]

The 10th Bn., Yorkshire Regiment did not enter the fray until 4 October.  21 Division was to take part in an attack by the Second Army on the high ground, Reutel – Noordhemhoek – Molenaarelsthoek – Niewe – Moden.  On the right was 5 Division and on the left 7 Division.

1 October: The total strength was 37 officers and 966 non-commissioned officers and men, with a fighting strength of 30 officers and 897 other ranks.  The battalion marched to and bivouacked at Zillebeke Lake where 2 men were killed by shells falling amongst A Company. 

3 October: 10/YR left at 9am and reached Clapham Junction by midnight.  The 2 front line companies belonged to 12/13 Northumberland Fusiliers. 

4 October: about 1.40am.  The jumping off point for B and D Companies, 10/YR was at Glencorse Wood which came under very heavy shelling and they lost touch with 12/13 NF. The rear supporting companies left Clapham Junction at about 1.30am and also came under heavy fire at they reached Glencorse Wood.  On reaching Black Watch Corner, another barrage was launched.  The men were ordered to take what cover they could in the shell holes.  The battalion moved on meeting 1/Lincolns just in front of Polygon Wood. 

10/YR had effectively been under heavy shell fire for 9 hours, since 9pm on the 3rd until 6am on the 4th.  In spite of this morale remained high.  In the evening a move to the old front line in Juniper Trench was made. 

5, 6 and 7 October, 10/YR held the area under intense artillery fire and both 62 and 64 Brigades suffered many casualties.

7 October: just before midnight, 10/YR was relieved and moved back to Zillebeke Lake. 

“The conditions in the trenches were very bad, the men standing in upwards of a foot of mud and water and the task of the stretcher bearers was rendered extremely difficult owing to the ground being badly cut up and in many places quite impassable by reason of the heavy rain which had fallen.”

The Regimental History quotes the losses as:

  • 1 Officer and 74 Other Ranks killed
  • 10 Officers and 249 Other Ranks wounded and missing.

Later research recorded that 1 man was lost on the 26 September, another 3 Other Ranks on 3 October but then between 4 and 9 October, 95 men were killed in action or died of wounds.[12]  This coincided with the Battle of Broodseinde when the 62 and 64 Brigades supported an attack.[13] 

During the following weeks the battalion spent in the Dickebusch-Zillebeke area, it incurred further casualties from enemy shelling.  The condition of the trenches was poor and maintaining them in a satisfactory state was difficult due to the heavy rain and constant shelling.  By the end of the month, the fighting strength of the battalion was down to 21 Officers and 520 Other Ranks, a total reduction of about 42%.  Later research confirms that a further 20 men and an officer were lost between 10 October and 10 November (when the British called off hostilities) including Corporal T.R. Howe who died of wounds, 26 October 1917.  7 other men died that day. [14]

Awards and Medals

Corporal T.R. Howe was awarded the 1914-15 Star, the Victory and British War medals.[15]



Thomas R. Howe’s widow Jane Elizabeth, Carwood Street, Witton Park received his pension.[16]


Corporal T.R. Howe has no known grave.  Since it is recorded that he died of wounds, he was probably buried on the battlefield but his grave was subsequently lost.  His memory is commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial together with almost 35,000 officers and men of the British and Commonwealth Forces.  He is also commemorated on war memorials in his home village of Witton Park.



Thomas R. Howe was born, lived and worked in the Witton Park area.  He enlisted into the Yorkshire Regiment as a volunteer and entered France in October 1915.  He was on the Western Front during the Battle of the Somme 1916, the Arras Offensive of 1917 and Passchendaele where Corporal T.R. Howe lost his life, 26 October 1917, aged 24.  He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial near Ypres, Belgium.  He left a widow, Jane Elizabeth Howe.


[1] Commonwealth War Graves Commission Note: CWGC & Soldiers Died in the Great War both record Corporal T.R Howe as “Died of Wounds”.  Since he is commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial, it is assumed that his battlefield grave has been lost.

[2] England & Wales Birth Index 1837-1915 Vol.10a p.174 Auckland 1893 Q4

[3] 1901 census

[4] 1911 census

[5] England & Wales Marriage Index 1837-1915 Vol.10a p.355 Auckland 1914 Q1

[6] Pension Claimants card index



[9] Medal Roll card index


[11] “The Green Howards in the Great War: 1914-1919” 1926 H.C. Wylly p.345-348

[12] Officers and Soldiers Died in the Great War

[13] “The Third Ypres Passchendaele: The Day by Day Account” 1995 Chris McCarthy p.98. Note:  10/YR did not lead the attack

[14] ODGW & SDGW

[15] Medal Roll card index, Roll of Individuals entitled to the Victory and British War medals dated 23 April 1920

[16] Pension Claimants card index