Sapper 132145 Thomas Hasdell

Hasdell Thomas 96 332x600Hasdell Thomas 96 440x600

Killed in Action on Saturday, 29th July 1916, age 41.
Buried in Grave I. O. 7. at Noeux-Les-Mines Communal Cemetery, Pas De Calais, France.

Royal Engineers, 170th Tunnelling Company.

Unmarried husband of Louisa Powell, of 14 High Street, Tipton, Staffs.
Born: Tipton, Enlisted: Dudley, Resident: Tipton.

First landed France & Flanders, 16th October 1915.
Medal entitlement: 1914-15 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal.
Soldier's Papers at National Archives survived and transcribed.

Commemorated on the Tipton Library, and St. Matthew's memorials.
Commemorated here because he appears on a Tipton memorial.

Link to Commonwealth War Graves Site: www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/465790/

Genealogical Data

Marriage of Thomas Hasdell and Elizabeth Whitehouse, 25th May 1896, St John's Church,Tipton.

1901 Census
9 Coppice Street, Tipton, Staffs.
Thomas Hasdell (25, Coal Miner, born Tipton), his wife Elizabeth (23, born Tipton), and their 2 children: Thomas (4, born Tipton), and Alice (2, born Tipton). A further daughter, Martha, was born 11th May 1901.

1911 Census
31 Southalls Lane, Dudley, Worcs.
Norah Whitehouse(29, Widow, BoardingHouse Keeper, born Tipton). - probably his sister-in-law.
Thomas Hasdell (35, Boarder, Married, Coal Miner, born Tipton).

Death of Mrs Elizabeth Hasdell registered March quarter 1903, age 25, possibly in childbirth.

Married Harriett Forrest (spinster) 6th February 1910, but seperated after a few days.

Personal Data

Thomas and Benjamin Hasdell were cousins.

Thomas enlisted with the Royal Engineers on 25th September 1915 at Dudley. He was living with Louisa Powell at 14 High Street, Tipton; she was described as his "unmarried wife". His lawful wife, Mrs Harriett Hasdell, was living at 167 Stafford Street, Dudley.

He was 40 years and 155 days old, 5 feet 1½ inches tall with a 36-inch chest, weighed 120 pounds, and was a Wesleyan. He spent a short time at Chatham (Royal Engineers HQ) before landing in France on 16th October 1915. He joined the 170th Tunnelling Company as a Tunneller's Mate at 2 shillings and 2 pence per day. On 1st January 1916, he was 're-mustered' as a Tunneller, in effect a promotion.

On 14th April 1916 he transferred from No. 10 General Hospital (Rouen) to England - abrasions to leg from chalk falling on it. Obviously this was more serious than it sounds, as he spent 25 days in hospital. He re-joined Base Depot on 4th June 1916 and re-joined his unit on 16th June.

The conclusion of Thomas Hasdell's pension entitlement after his death proved rather complex. It seems that Louisa Powell was receiving the 'Separation Allowance' of 14 shillings per week, and 'Allotment of Pay' of 28 shillings per week in respect of Thomas Hasdell, and acted as guardian to Thomas's daughter, Martha. For some reason his son Thomas James was in receipt of 'outdoor relief' from Dudley Board of Guardians which they tried to reclaim from the Ministry of Pensions. Thomas's legal wife, Mrs Harriett Hasdell, wrote to the Royal Engineers (via Dudley Police) saying that she thought it right that any allowances resulting from the death of Thomas Hasdell should be paid to her as they were still legally married.

The outcome was that a Pension of 5 shillings per week was paid to Louisa Powell as guardian of Martha Hasdell, money was paid to Dudley Union in respect of Thomas James Hasdell - although he would have been over 21 years of age. His daughter Alice was already married at this time.

After Thomas's death, his outstanding army pay and allowances amounted to £22/18/3d (22 pounds, 18 shillings and 3 pence); this was shared equally between Mrs Louisa Powell and his daughter, Martha Hasdell, in February 1917. His War Gratuity was £8/10/0d (8 pounds and 10 shillings), this was shared equally between Mrs Louisa Powell in December 1919, and Edward Rauft in April 1920. The value of the War Gratuity suggests that Thomas had enlisted in September 1915.

Action resulting in his death

Thomas joined the 170th Tunnelling Company when they had just left the Givenchy sector, and were temporarily in Nouex-les-Mines building huts, billets and dug-outs. On 9th December 1915 they moved to the Loos area, near the Hohenzollern Redoubt. It was here that the local 46th (North Midlands) Division had just lost so heavily on 13th October 1915, with 8 Tipton men killed that day, and at least 1 further man subsequently dying of wounds, click here to see these casualties.

The work of the 170th Tunnelling Company from then on was to tunnel under no-mans-land, and to lay and explode mines with the purpose of destroying enemy strong-points. Of course the enemy was attempting precisely the same, but in the opposite direction. A further vital task was to locate and destroy the enemy tunnels and mines before they could be primed and exploded.

The 170th Tunnelling Company War Diary for 29th July records:
“The enemy raided Sticky Trench placing TNT charges in V, G and K shafts. V and K were fired and damaged the shafts, G failed to explode.
The enemy entered the mine system doing no damage, but taking some infantry prisoners who had sought refuge.”

Sticky Trench was the British front line trench facing the German front line trench ‘Little Willie’. This was just to the north of the Hohenzollern Redoubt, about 250 metres in front of today’s Quarry CWGC Cemetery. This can be seen on the 1916 trench map extract at the bottom of this page.

The War Diary sadly does not mention casualties for 29th July, but 5 Tunnellers lost their lives and are buried side-by-side in Nouex-les Mines Communal Cemetery. They are Sappers Poole, Scarlett, Richards, Mellon, and Hasdell.

Thanks to ‘Mining Dave’ Whittaker for his assistance.

Newspaper Cuttings

Tipton Herald 26th August 1916
Sapper Thomas Hasdell of High Street and Private Benjamin Hasdell of Coppice Street have both been killed in action. Their photos will be in next week's issue.

Tipton Herald 2nd September 1916
Death in the great advance on the Western Front comes alike to the brave young stripling and the more veteran toilers past military age, who answered their country's call in time of need. The wife and family of Sapper Thomas Hasdell, of 14 High Street, Tipton, have received official tidings that he was killed in action in France on July 29th. He was 41 years of age in April last, and leaves three children. He joined the army in answer to the call for experienced miners in September of last year. He was born in the same street. He formerly worked at Elwell's Colliery, Tividale. He was in the Royal Engineers.
The first news of his death was received from comrades from whom the family learnt how much respected the dead soldier had been. The letter from the King, "The King commands me to assure you of the true sympathy of his majesty and the Queen in your sorrow.," will be much treasured in the little household.

Trench Map extract June 1916, Hohenzollern Redoubt.

Hasdell Thomas StickyTrench 96