Lance Corporal 201361 Samuel Thomas

Thomas Samuel 96 409x600

Killed in Action on Sunday, 31st March 1918, age unknown.
Buried in Grave XV. B. 3. at Villers-Bretonneux Military Cemetery, Somme, France.

2nd/8th Bn., Worcestershire Regiment. 182nd Brigade of 61st Division.
Formerly 3578 Worcestershire Regiment.

Husband of Mrs Ada Thomas, of 5 House 4 Court, Horseley Heath, Tipton, Staffs.
Born: Dudley, Enlisted: Dudley, Resident: Tipton.

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

Commemorated on the Tipton Library Memorial.
Commemorated here because he appears on a Tipton memorial.

Link to Commonwealth War Graves Site: www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/576830/

Genealogical Data

It has not been possible to positively identify Samuel Thomas on the 1901 or 1911 census.

Marriage of Samuel Thomas and Ada Coley registered March Quarter 1918 at Dudley.
A son, named Samuel, was born on 5th June 1918, 2 months after his father had been killed. Sadly the child died on 27th November 1918, not quite 6 months old.

Personal Data

After Samuel's death his outstanding army pay and allowances was paid in September 1919 to his widow Ada; this amounted to £7/2/8d (7 pounds, 2 shillings and 8 pence). In October 1919 she received a further sum of £14/5/6d (14 pounds, 5 shillings and 6 pence), making a total of £22/8/2d (22 pounds, 8 shillings and 2 pence). This included £17/10/0d (17 pounds and 10 shillings) which was Samuel's War Gratuity, this value and date of death suggests that he enlisted in approximately August 1914.

Ada was awarded a pension of 13/9d (13 shillings and 9 pence) per week, effective from 9th December 1918. This was just for herself as her infant son had died just before the award of the pension. A grant of £5 was also paid to Ada in June 1920.

Action resulting in his death

Although Samuel Thomas is recorded as having died on 31st March 1918, it is more likely he died between the 28th and 30th March when the 2/8th Worcesters were in the village of Marcelcave. He is buried in Villers-Bretonneux Cemetery, but he was originally buried a mile to the south-west of Marcelcave. Samuel's Soldiers Effects entry says "Presumed Dead 21-31 March 1918".

The German Spring Offensive began on the 21st March 1918, aiming for a break-through before the overwhelming American presence became effective. The 2/8th Worcesters were on the southern outskirts of St. Quentin, in the vicinity of Holnon. The German attack on that day was bravely resisted by units of the 2/8th Worcesters, especially at Ellis Redoubt, but by the end of the day they were forced to fall back to the south-west.

Further retirements followed on subsequent days, generally to the south-west, but then towards the important transport hub of Amiens. On the early morning of 28th March, the 2/8th Worcesters were transported by bus to the village of Marcelcave, just 12 miles to the east of Amiens.

A British counter-attack was planned out of Marcelcave to the village of Warfusee-Abancourt, a mile to the north-east. The attack quickly foundered due to a strong German presence, and rather than attack the 2/8th Worcesters were ordered to dig a trench line to the west of Marcelcave. This was just as well, as the Germans captured Marcelcave at 7pm, and this new trench line became the line of resistance.

On the 29th March there was no attack but the War Diary records “Enemy artillery and machine guns very active”, it also rained. On the next day, 30th March, the Germans could be seen massing on the Worcester’s right. A subsequent attack was repulsed mainly due to the steadfastness of the depleted Worcesters. At 2am on the 31st March, the 2/8th Worcesters were relieved by the Australians.

Although relieved at 2am on the 31st March, 37 men of the 2/8th Worcesters are recorded as having been killed in action. This is almost certainly incorrect, and these numbers relate to the action on the 28th to 30th March at Marcelcave. This is certainly true of Samuel Thomas as his original place of burial corresponds with the trench-line to the west of Marcelcave. In the years after the war, Samuel’s remains were exhumed from his temporary grave, and re-buried in Villers-Bretonneux Military Cemetery.

Newspaper Cuttings

Birmingham Daily Post 7th June 1918
Worcestershire Regiment, Thomas, 201361, Lce-Corpl, S., (Tipton).