Pratt T

THOMAS PRATT (1893 – 1916)

26954 Corporal Thomas Pratt, 14th Battalion, Durham Light Infantry was killed in action 18 September 1916.  He was 23 years old and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial[1] and the St. Helen’s Colliery Memorial Cottages.

Family Details

Thomas was born c.1894 at Byers Green near Spennymoor to William and Hannah Pratt.[2]  There were at least 2 children to the marriage:

  • Thomas born c.1893
  • William born born c.1907 at Tindale Crescent

By 1911, the family lived at Boddy Street, Tindale Crescent.  His father, William was “a colliery hauling engine man” and Thomas worked as an apprentice engineman for Pease and Partners, [3] the owners of the colliery.

Service Record

Thomas attested 7 September 1914 aged 21 years and 2 months.  He lived at 6 Boddy Street, Tindale Crescent and worked as an “engineman fitter”.[4]  He was 5ft. 7” tall.  He was posted to the 14th Battalion, Durham Light Infantry from the depot 7 September 1914 and given the regimental number 26954.

The 14th (Service) Battalion, DLI was formed at Newcastle in September 1914 as part of Kitchener’s New Army K3 and came under orders of the 64th Brigade, 21st Division.[5]  Other battalions in the 64th Brigade were:

  • 9th Bn., the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry
  • 10th Bn., the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry
  • 15th Bn., Durham Light Infantry [6]

Training took place at Aylesbury, Halton Park, High Wycombe and Witley Camp.[7]  Thomas Pratt was promoted to Lance Corporal 26 June 1915 and to Corporal 24 July 1915.[8]  The battalion landed at Boulogne 11 September 1915 and the 64th Brigade was soon heavily involved in fighting at the Battle of Loos.

25 September – 8 October 1915: The Battle of Loos. [9]

26 September: 1.00am the 14/DLI and 15/DLI passed the old British front line and at 2.00am reached the old German front line north of the mining town of Loos.  14/DLI was selected to reinforce the 63rd Brigade which was facing a hostile German counter attack in Chalk Pit Wood.  By 10.30, the advance was under considerable shell and machine gun fire and a general advance was ordered at 11.00am.  The Durhams suffered from heavy enfilade machine gun fire from Chalk Pit Wood.  The position of the 64th Brigade was subject to intense shell fire and the bombardment continued until dusk.  They were relieved in the early morning, 27 September.  Losses in the ranks amounted to 277 and 450, 14/DLI and 15/DLI respectively. [10]

Later research records that 14/DLI lost 4 officers and 50 other ranks killed in action and/or died of wounds between 25 and 28 September 1915.  The 15/DLI lost 2 officers and 95 other ranks during the same period. [11] Corporal T. Pratt survived this engagement.

28 November:  14/DLI was transferred to the 18th Brigade, 6th Division.[12]  The other battalions in this brigade were:

  • 1st Bn., West Yorkshire Regiment
  • 2nd Bn., Durham Light Infantry
  • 1/16th Bn., London Regiment left January 1916
  • 11th Bn., Essex Regiment

The Division was to see action at the Battle of the Somme:

15 – 22 September 1916: the Battle of Flers-Courcelette. [13]

11 September: the 6th Division took over the front east of Guillemont

12 September: 14/DLI moved up from Sand Pit Valley to the Citadel, south of Fricourt.  They were in reserve with the 18th Brigade.

15 September: at night, sent forward to consolidate a position where the railway crossed the Ginchy-Leuze Wood road.

16 September: began work on an assembly trench in preparation of an attack upon a position known as “the Quadrilateral” in the early morning of the 18th.  Heavy barrage came down.

17 September: a day of waiting

18 September: the battalion had lost 3 officers and 21 other ranks wounded before the attack commenced.  Rain fell, 14/DLI advanced behind a creeping barrage and took a trench called “the Straight” and the Quadrilateral and dug in within sight of the ruins of Morval on the other side of the valley.  German gunners opened up on this new position.  The brigade was relieved.  4 officers and 31 men were reported to be killed, 4 officers and 161 other ranks wounded and 32 men missing.[14]  Corporal T. Pratt was recorded as “missing” 18 September 1916. [15]  Later research confirms that between 15 and 19 September 1916, 14/DLI lost 4 officers and 83 other ranks, killed in action and/or died of wounds.[16]

26954 Corporal T. Pratt served a total of 2 years 12 days, 1 year 4 days at home and 1 year 8 days in France.[17]  He was finally regarded as being “killed in action” 20 April 1917.[18]  He has no known grave.  Corporal Thomas Pratt was awarded the 1914-15 Star, the British War and Victory medals.[19]

Commemorations

The Thiepval Memorial, the Memorial to the Missing of the Somme: Corporal Thomas Pratt is commemorated on this memorial which bears the names of more than 72,000 officers and men of the United Kingdom 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. [20]

References:

[1] Commonwealth War Graves Commission

[2] 1901 census

[3] 1911 census

[4] Army Form B.2505

[5] http://www.1914-1918.net/dli.htm

[6] http://www.1914-1918.net/21div.htm

[7] http://www.1914-1918.net/dli.htm

[8] Statement of Service

[9] www.1914-1918.net/21div.htm & http://www.warpath.orbat.coom/battles_ff/1915.htm

[10] “The Durham Forces in the Field 1914-18” Captain W. Miles 1920 p.20-24

[11] Officers & Soldiers Died in the Great War

[12] http://www.1914-1918.net/dli.htm

[13] www.1914-1918.net/6div.htm & http://www.warpath.orbat.com/battles_ff/1916.htm

[14] “The Durham Forces in the Field 1914-18” Captain W. Miles 1920 p74-76

[15] Army Form 2090A Field Service

[16] Officers & Soldiers Died in the Great War

[17] Military History Sheet

[18] See 15

[19] Medal Roll index card

[20] Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Photographs:

THIEPVAL MEMORIAL

THIEPVAL MEMORIAL

PRATT T. Inscription Thiepval Memorial

PRATT T.
Inscription
Thiepval Memorial

PRATT T. Medal Roll

PRATT T.
Medal Roll

One thought on “Pratt T

  1. Pingback: ST.HELEN’S | The Fallen Servicemen of Southwest County Durham

Leave a Reply

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

WordPress.com Logo

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

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ 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