Thomas Mason

Thomas Mason
Born at London Road, St Ives in 1893, Thomas was the eldest son of five children, one of whom died in infancy. His parents were John and Elizabeth (née Quarton).

Thomas' father was clerk to a local solicitor, G D Day. He also acted as honorary Deputy Town Clerk and Magistrates' Clerk. He was called 'One of the best known men in St Ives' when he died suddenly in November 1913. From the expressions of sympathy he was clearly a popular man. Ill for a week with pains in his chest and acute indigestion, when turning up for work on a Friday morning he looked so poorly his employer advised him not to return after lunch. On the way home he collapsed, was carried home and died of a brain haemorrhage, aged 62yrs. Thomas appeared at the Inquest. The Hunts Post reported on the incident, inquest and funeral on 14 November 1913.

Enlisting in 1915, the Hunts Post reported on 26 November 1915 of Thomas receiving a bible from the Free Church as he was about to join up. Initially he served with the Hunts Cyclists on coastal defence in Yorkshire. Thomas left for France probably in July 1916, attached to 1st/8th Territorial Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment. Having suffered heavy casualties at the start of the Battle of the Somme, August 1916 was spent rebuilding the Battalion, training the new recruits. 

In late August, after a period in the trenches, the Battalion undertook further training and provided working parties. Even away from the Front there was danger. The camp was heavily shelled on 24 August, but with so many engaged elsewhere there were no casualties, No such luck for some of the working parties. Maintaining one of the trenches, they were very heavily resulting in 4 killed, 19 wounded and 1 missing.

On Sunday 27 August 1916 Thomas and his colleagues moved into the forward trenches in preparation for an attack on the German lines, part of the Battle of Pozières. Confusion arose when they couldn't find the ladders to enable them to climb out of the trenches at the start of the attack.

Battle of Pozieres
Devastated terrain at the Battle of Pozieres
Thomas' Battalion rose out of the trenches at 2pm and marched towards the German defences. Their first objective was hard to identify, resulting in part of the Battalion veering off to the left and losing touch. Two of the officers were killed early in the advance, the third detached from his men. Breaking into a double march, effectively a moderate jog, the soldiers ran into their own artillery barrage. There was much confusion, with heavy casualties of 10 killed, 150 wounded and 73 missing.

Initially reported wounded by the Hunts Post on 15 September 1916, two months elapsed with no news before Thomas was again reported wounded and missing on 10 November 1916 and 24 November 1916. He was finally confirmed as killed in action on Sunday 27 August, aged 23yrs. He has no known grave and is commemorated on Thiepval Memorial, Somme, France, on a plaque in St Ives Literary Institute and on Fenstanton War Memorial.

Have you a photograph of Thomas or any additional information? If so, please get in touch via the make contact page.

Source materials
Click any of the links below to view original source materials.
1901 Census
1911 Census
War diary, 1st/8th Territorial Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment
Commonwealth War Graves Register
Commemorative Certificate

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