Private 40154 Thomas Groom

Killed in Action on Tuesday, 31st July 1917, age 25.
Commemorated on Panel 55 of Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial, Ieper, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium.

1st Bn., North Staffordshire Regiment. 72nd Brigade of 24th Division.
Formerly 36328 South Staffordshire Regiment.

Brother of Mrs Elizabeth Richards, of 34, Back of Ash St., Daisy Bank, Bilston, Staffs.
Born: Tipton, Enlisted: Bilston, Resident: Unknown.

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/908093/

Genealogical Data

Birth of Thomas Groom registered December quarter 1893 at Dudley.

1901 Census
32 Queens Road, Tipton, Staffs.
William Groom (42, Coal Miner, born West Bromwich), his wife Mary J. (39, born Bradley), and 5 of her 6 surviving children of 8: Elizabeth (10, born Tipton), Thomas (8, born Tipton), Harriet (7, born Tipton), William (4, born Tipton), and David (2, born Tipton).

1911 Census
25 Ash Street, Daisy Bank, Bilston, Staffs.
Mary Jane Groom (42, Widow, born Sedgley), and 5 of her 6 surviving children of 8: Elizabeth (19, Bedstead Painter, born Tipton), Thomas (17, Labourer at Galvanising Works, born Tipton), William (14, Bootmaker's Errand Boy, born Tipton), David (11, School, born Tipton), and Harold (9, School, born Tipton).

Personal Data

After Thomas's death, his outstanding army pay and allowances amounted to £2/4/11d (2 pounds, 4 shillings and 11 pence); this was paid to his mother, Mary J., in July 1918. His War Gratuity was £3/0/0d (3 pounds exactly), this was also paid to his mother in November 1919. The value of the War Gratuity suggests that Thomas had enlisted in the 12 months prior to his death.

Thomas's mother, Mrs Mary Jane Groom was awarded a Dependant's Pension of 12/6d (12 shillings and 6 pence) per week for life, effective from 23rd April 1918. Her address at that time was 40 Hilly Road, Daisy Bank, Bilston. Mary died just less than 4 years later on 8th January 1922, aged 56.

Action resulting in his death

The 1st Battalion North Staffordshire Regiment (1/NS) was one of the 12 Battalions comprising 24th Division and was in action on the first day of the 3rd Battle of Ypres, 31st July 1917. During 1917, 1/NS had already taken part in the actions of the Battle of Arras (near Vimy Ridge) in April, and at the Battle of Messines in June.

The 3rd Battle of Ypres was intended to capture the series of ridges from the north-east to the south of Ypres, culminating at Passchendaele some 7 miles north-east of Ypres. This would leave the Allies within 5 miles of Roulers which was a vitally important railway hub for the Germans. The battle began on 31st July 1917 and it was more than 3 bloody and muddy months later when the Canadians captured the ruins of Passchendaele village.

For most of July, 1/NS were behind the lines at Seninghem practicing for the 31st July attack. Overnight 30th /31st July, ‘B’, ‘C’ and ‘D’ Companies moved to their assembly positions just south of Mount Sorrel, about 3 miles south-east of Ypres. ’A’ Company was to be the Reserve Company.

The 24th Division was to form the right defensive flank for the main assault. The 1/NS objective was to capture the German front and second-line trenches (‘Jehovah’ and ‘Jordan’), Groenenburg Farm, and the remains of Bulgar Wood. This was an eastward advance of between 1000 and 1500 yards.

Zero hour was 03.50am and 1/NS advanced under a British bombardment. At first the attack went well and both the German front and second-line trenches were captured. However, the enemy opened a very heavy enfilade fire with machine guns from Shrewsbury Forest on the left and Bulgar Wood in front.

Owing to a lack of progress on the 1/NS left flank, held up in Shrewsbury Forest, orders were issued at 06.00am that the attack would halt and gains were to be consolidated. The line consolidated was between the German first and second-line trenches, and the 1/NS remained here until relieved overnight 1st/2nd August. During that time, it had started raining heavily and the German artillery, machine guns and snipers were very active.

Officer casualties were high; of the 11 officers with ‘B’, ‘C’ and ‘D’ Companies, 2 were killed and 7 wounded on the day. 45 Other Ranks were killed and over 200 wounded.

Amongst the 45 Other Ranks killed was Thomas Groom. Like many of his comrades, he has no known grave and is commemorated on the Menin Gate, Ypres.

Newspaper Cuttings