Pinkney T.

THOMAS PINKNEY (1883 – 1916)

4073 Private Thomas Pinkney, 6th Battalion, the Durham Light Infantry was killed in action 2 April 1916 and is buried at Chester Farm Cemetery, Ypres, Belgium. [1]  He was 33 years old and is commemorated on the Cockfield War Memorial.

Family Details

Thomas was born 1883 at Evenwood, the son of Thomas and Mary Ann Pinkney.  There were at least 5 children:

  • George bc. 1873 at Shildon
  • Mary bc. 1881 at Shildon
  • Thomas born 1883 at Evenwood
  • Richard bc. 1885 at Evenwood
  • John William bc. 1890 at Evenwood

56 year old Thomas, 28 year old George, 18 year old Thomas and 16 year old Richard all worked as coal miners – Thomas junior as a coal miner (hewer).  The family lived at Lands Bank which was in the neighbouring parish of Evenwood and Barony. [2]  By 1911, Thomas had been married for 4 years to Tavanah (nee Parkin)[3] and they had 3 children:

  • Mary Jane bc. 1908
  • Thomas George bc.1910
  • Tavanah born 1911

All children were born at Cockfield.  Thomas worked as a coal miner (hewer).  The family lived at 12 Oxford Terrace, Cockfield. [4]

Service Details

Thomas Pinkney enlisted into the Durham Light Infantry at Bishop Auckland and was given the regimental number 4073.  He joined the 6/DLI although the SDGW source records him as serving with 1/8 DLI.[5]  Private T. Pinkney entered France 18 November 1915.[6]

The 1/6th Battalion was formed in Bishop Auckland in August 1914 as part of the Durham Light Infantry Brigade, Northumbrian Division.  In May 1915 the battalion came under the orders of the 151st Brigade of the 50th Division. The Division moved to France 16 April 1915 and served with distinction on the Western Front throughout the war.  Other battalions were:

  • 1/7th Battalion, DLI
  • 1/8th Battalion, DLI
  • 1/9th Battalion, DLI
  • 1/5th Battalion, the Loyal North Lancs. joined June 1915

Following heavy casualties in June 1915 the battalion merged with the 1/8th to become the 6/8th then it returned to its original identity 11 August 1915 and was then joined by:

  • 1/5th (Cumberland) Battalion, the Border Regiment joined December 1915
  • 151st Machine Gun Company formed 6 February 1916
  • 150th Trench Mortar Battery formed 18 June 1916 [7]

The service details and war diary of 6/DLI have not been researched but the following account[8] offers good detail of the circumstances surrounding the death of Private T. Pinkney.

When Private T. Pinkney entered France, 6/DLI was not in the line but was billeted at camps near Bailleul, France close to the Belgian border and the Ypres Salient.  6/DLI was to see action between 17 December 1915 and 4 April 1916 at the Salient, Sanctuary Wood and the Bluff.

17 December 1915: 6/DLI marched to Steenwerck then entrained to Poperinghe then marched to Dickebusch where the camp was a disgrace.

18 December: relieved 6/Royal Scots, W Company in Canal Dugouts, X Company in Maple Copse, Y Company in Sanctuary Wood and Z Company in Redoubts 2, 3 & 4.

19 December: heavy bombardment and enemy attack to the north of Hooge and to the north of the trenches occupied by the 6/DLI.

20 December: the bombardment continued and 6/DLI lost 6 men killed and 12 wounded in this bombardment.

During this first phase of front line duty, 6/DLI suffered 1 officer and 8 ORs killed and 1 officer and 45 ORs wounded.

23 December: relieved by 5/Borders

27 – 31 December: in trenches A7 – A12

2 January 1916: draft of 50 men

4 – 9 January: in trenches A7 – A12

This pattern continued throughout January and into February and casualties were low.

14-15 February: Germans recaptured the Bluff.  151 Brigade was in Reserve and standing to for a counter attack if needed.

2 March: the Bluff recaptured by British forces.

14-17 March: relieved 5/Northumberland Fusiliers in the Mt. Sorrell trenches

17-23 March: at Poperinghe

23 – 26 March: the Bluff trenches.

“The Bluff measured 30 to 40 feet high and 300 yards length…The thickly tangled undergrowth hid the bodied of the dead of both sides.  Hurriedly dug trenches criss-crossed the surface which was heavily pock marked by shell and mine craters….Bodies were still being removed from this area when the battalion took over…Bodied discovered were removed and buried…Only snipers were active and care had to be taken in moving around in daylight.”

30 March: relieved 8/DLI

2 April: enemy bombardment reached a crescendo.

“The German guns had the exact range of the Brigade positions and from 2.00pm onwards subjected the trenches and dugouts to a severe pounding.  Gordon Post and Brigade HQ suffered particularly…Captain Harter was mortally wounded…The battalion lost 6 men killed or wounded at the Dump and Langhof Chateau.”

2/3 April night: relieved by 1st Division Canadian Corps

Between 17 December 1915 and 4 April, 6/DLI lost 1 officer and 42 ORs killed in action or died of wounds.[9]  This source records no casualties for 2 April 1916 but H. Moses informs that there were 6 men killed or wounded.  Private T. Pinkney is recorded by the CWGC as serving with 6/DLI but SDGW records him with 8/DLI, informing that 7 ORs of that battalion were killed in action 2 April 1916.  Unless there were transfers during operations which would be difficult for SDGW to record, it appears that SDGW is inaccurate with regard to the men serving in these battalions at this time.

4073 Private Thomas Pinkney was awarded the 1914-1915 Star, the British War and Victory medals.[10]


Private T. Pinkney is buried at grave reference I.A.3 Chester Farm Cemetery, Ypres, Belgium.  The following epitaph was provided by his wife: [11]

“In loving memory from

his wife and children

Mary, George and Tavanah

Thy will be done”


The following article appeared in the local press:


Pte. T. Pinkney Killed

Official news has reached the village of another Cockfield boy being killed in action Pte. Thomas Pinkney who joined the 6th Durhams some ten months ago.  The deceased who was the son of the late Thomas Pinkney, Mayfield Terr. leaves a widow and three children.  He was 33 years of age.  His widow has received a very sympathetic letter speaking well of her husband.  A memorial service was held on Sunday afternoon at St. Mary’s Church where a very impressive service was conducted by the Rev. J.M. Gardner, curate-in-charge.  A good company of relations, friends and inhabitants of the village attended.”  


[1] Commonwealth War Graves Commission note: Soldiers Died in the Great War records that 4073 Private Thomas Pinkney served with 1/8 DLI

[2] 1901 census

[3] England & Wales 1837-1915 Marriage Index Vol.10a p.382 Teesdale Durham 1907 Q1

[4] 1911 census

[5] SDGW

[6] Medal Roll card index

[7] &

[8] “The Faithfull Sixth” H. Moses 1995 p.50-59

[9] Officers & Soldiers Died in the Great War

[10] Medal Roll card index

[11] CWGC


PINKNEY T.  Press Photo

Press Photo

PINKNEY T,  Medal Roll

Medal Roll

PINKNEY T. Headstone


One thought on “Pinkney T.

  1. Pingback: COCKFIELD | The Fallen Servicemen of Southwest County Durham

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s