Vickers TH

THOMAS HENRY VICKERS (1899 – 1918)

51869 Private Thomas Henry Vickers, 2/4th Battalion, the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry was killed in action 16 April 1918 and is buried at Bienvillers Military Cemetery, France. [1] He is commemorated on the St. Helen’s Colliery Memorial Cottages, West Auckland War Memorial and the Roll of Honour, Memorial Hall, West Auckland.  He was 19 years old the son of William and Isabel Vickers.

Family Details

Thomas Henry was born 1899 [2] to William and Isabel Vickers.  There were 2 children both born at West Auckland.  :

  • Mary Eva born c.1896
  • Thomas Henry born c.1899 [3]

In 1901 the family lived at Staindrop Road and William worked as a coal miner (hewer). [4] Isabel died in 1902. [5]  William married Ellen in 1904 and they had at least 1 child, Ellen born c.1905 at West Auckland.  In 1911, the family lived at 11 Edith Terrace. [6]  Later, they moved to 3 Gaunless Terrace, the Nursery, West Auckland. [7]

Service Record

The service record of Private Thomas Henry Vickers has not been traced and the war diary of the 2/4 Bn., King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry (KOYLI) War Diary has not been researched.  Private T.H. Vickers served with “C” company and was given the regimental number 51869.

On 31 August 1914 the War Office issued instructions for all units of the Territorial Force to form a reserve unit. The men who had agreed to serve overseas were separated from the rest. Those left as ‘home service only’ were formed into ‘second line’ units, which would be this reserve. They were joined by many new recruits from September 1914 onward.  The ‘first line’ 49th (West Riding) Division went to France in April 1915.

The 2/4th battalion was formed in September 1914 at Wakefield as a second line unit attached to the 187th Brigade, 62nd (2nd West Riding) Division.  The units of the ‘second line’, the 2nd West Riding Division, remained at home for quite some time. Along with other ‘second line’ Divisions, it suffered greatly from lack of equipment and training was inevitably affected. The Division also continually supplied drafts of men to the ‘first line’.  The Division finally landed in Le Havre, France 15 January 1917.[8]  Other units in the 187th Brigade were:

  • 2/5th, KOYLI which became the 5th Battalion 2 February 1918
  • 2/4th, York & Lancaster Regiment
  • 2/5th, York & Lancaster Regiment disbanded 3rd February 1918
  • 208th Machine Gun Company, joined 4 March 1917, moved to 62nd, MGC 9 March 1918
  • 187th Trench Mortar Battery [9]

The Division then remained on the Western Front in France and Flanders for the rest of the war and took part in the following engagements:

1917

  • 15 February – 13 March: The Operations on the Ancre
    14 – 19 March: The German retreat to the Hindenburg Line
    11 April: The first attack on Bullecourt (part of the Arras Offensive)
    15 April 1915: The German attack on Lagnicourt (part of the Arras Offensive)
    3 – 17 April: The Battle of Bullecourt (part of the flanking operations round Arras)
    20 28 May: The actions on the Hindenburg Line
    20 – 21 November: The Cambrai Operations (tank attack) and 27 – 28 November the capture of Bourlon Wood

1918

  •  25 March: the Battle of Bapaume (part of the First Battles of the Somme 1918)
  • 28 March: The First Battle of Arras 1918 (part of the First Battles of the Somme 1918)
  • 20 – 30 July: The Battle of Tardenois (part of the Battle of the Marne 1918)
  • 26 – 30 August: The Battle of the Scarpe (part of the Second Battle of Arras 1918)
  • 2 September: The Battle of the Drocouer-Queant line (part of the Second Battle of Arras 1918)
  • 12 September: the Battle of Havrincourt (part of the Battles of the Hindenburg Line 1918)
  • 27 – 30 September: the Battle of the Canal du Nord (part of the Battle of the Hindenburg Line 1918) [10]

It is assumed that Private T.H. Vickers was conscripted into service, attested in 1917 (possibly on his 18th birthday) and was sent to France in the spring 1918 as the German Spring Offensive took effect and British casualties increased requiring an urgent demand for new men at the front.  He was killed in action 16 April 1918 along with 5 other ranks.[11]  The battalion was not involved in any specific named battle on that date and must have been killed as part of the usual violence of warfare – shelling or machine gun or sniper fire.  Since another 5 men were killed on the same day, perhaps they were hit by artillery fire.

Private T.H. Vickers was awarded the British War and Victory medals.[12]

 Burial

Private T.H. Vickers is buried at grave reference XIII.A.6 Bienvillers Military Cemetery, France.  His headstone was inscribed by his parents as follows:

“We hold a sacred memory of our loved one gone before”

The cemetery was begun September 1915 by the 37th Division and used until March 1917 then re-opened between March and September 1918 when the village was again on the front line.  After the war graves were brought in from the battlegrounds and it was completed in 1924.  There are 1605 burials and commemorations. [13]

References:

[1] Commonwealth War Graves Commission

[2] England & Wales BMD Birth Index 1837 – 1915 Vol.10a p.241 Auckland Q1 1899

[3] 1901 & 1911 census

[4] 1901 census

[5] England & Wales BMD Death Index 1837 – 1915 Vol.10a p.147 Auckland Q1 1902

[6] 1911 census

[7] Commonwealth War Graves Commission

[8] http://www.1914-1918.net/koyli.htm

[9] http://www.1914-1918.net/62div.htm

[10] See 9

[11] Soldiers Died in the Great War

[12] Medal Roll card index

[13] Commonwealth War Graves

PHOTOGRAPHS:

VICKERS T.H. Headstone

VICKERS T.H.
Headstone

VICKERS T.H. Medal Roll

VICKERS T.H.
Medal Roll

2 thoughts on “Vickers TH

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

  2. Pingback: WEST AUCKLAND | The Fallen Servicemen of Southwest County Durham

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