Private 54609 Thomas Box

Killed in Action on Saturday, 13th April 1918, age 37.
Commemorated on Panel 11 of Ploegsteert Memorial, Comines-Warneton, Hainaut, Belgium.

Machine Gun Corps, 29th Company. 29th Division.

Son of Mr W. and Mrs P. A. Box, of 40, Bloomfield Rd., Tipton, Staffs.
Born: Tipton, Enlisted: Shrewsbury, Resident: Ledbury, Hereford..

First landed France & Flanders, post 31st December 1915.
Medal entitlement: British War Medal, Victory Medal.
Soldier's Papers at National Archives did not survive.

Not commemorated on any Tipton memorial.
Commemorated here because identified as Tipton on 'Soldiers Died in the Great War'.

Link to Commonwealth War Graves Site: www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/874806/

Genealogical Data

Birth of Thomas Box registered March quarter 1891 at Dudley.

1901 Census
62 Owen Street, Tipton, Staffs.
Alfred Turner (40, Hairdresser, born Tipton) with his wife and son, but also Thomas Box (20, Hairdresser's Apprentice, born Tipton).

1911 Census
40 Bloomfield Road, Tipton, Staffs.
William Box (59, Labourer, born Tipton), his wife Phoebe Ann (56, born Tipton), and their 5 surviving children of 6: John (33, Dresser in Iron Foundry, born Tipton), Thomas (30, Hairdresser's Assistant, born Tipton), William (27, Labourer, born Tipton), James (24, Carpenter's Labourer, born Tipton), and Nellie (18, At home, born Tipton).

Personal Data

The CWGC records that Pte Box was in the 29th Company, Machine Gun Corps, this Company was in the 10th (Irish) Division which were in Egypt in 1918 whilst Pte Box was killed in Belgium. In February 1918, the 29th Machine Gun Battalion was formed from 29th Division's three Machine Gun Companies; it is likely that this was Thomas's correct unit. This is now confirmed, as the recently released (2105) 'Soldiers Effects' papers records William as 29th Battalion, MGC.

The CWGC also records that Thomas was 39 years old; as he was born in 1891 he was actually 37 years old.

The 'Soldiers Effects' papers shows that Thomas’s outstanding army pay and allowances of £1/1/10d (1 pound, 1 shilling and 10 pence) was paid to this father, William, in March 1919. His War Gratuity of £9/8/2d (9 pounds, 8 shillings and 2 pence) was also paid to his father in January 1920. This suggests that Thomas enlisted in approximately March 1916.

Action resulting in his death

Three weeks before Thomas Box was killed, the Germans had launched their Spring Offensive, and in those three weeks had considerable success in driving back the Allies. The 29th Division were holding a line about 3 miles south east of Bailleul in the Lys valley in continuous action against the advancing German troops. Once Neuve Eglise fell, they were in a salient and were forced to fall back towards Bailleul.

It was during this action that Thomas Box was killed in action. His body was never identified for burial, and he is commemorated on the Ploegsteert Memorial.

Newspaper Cuttings