Private 17924 Henry Leonard Thompson

Killed in Action on Friday, 15th September 1916, age 19.
Commemorated on Pier and Face 2 C and 3 A of Thiepval Memorial, Somme, France.

1st Bn., Leicestershire Regiment. 71st Brigade of 6th Division.

Born: Tipton, Enlisted: Tipton, Resident: Unknown.

First landed France & Flanders, 14th October 1915.
Medal entitlement: 1914-15 Star, 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/815872/

Genealogical Data

Birth of Henry Leonard Thompson registered December quarter 1896 at Dudley.

1901 Census
33 New Cross Street, Tipton, Staffs.
Henry Thompson (42, Ironworker, born West Bromwich), his wife Alice (36, born Tipton), and their 4 children: Walter (9, born Tipton), Mabel (8, born Tipton), Maud (6, born Tipton), and Leonard (4, born Tipton).

1911 Census
22 New Cross Street, Tipton, Staffs.
Henry Thompson (51, Ironworker, born West Bromwich), his wife Alice (47, born Tipton), and 1 of their 4 surviving children of 8: Leonard (14, born Tipton).

Personal Data

After Henry's death, his outstanding army pay and allowances amounted to £2/15/9d (2 pounds, 15 shillings and 9 pence); payments of 18/7d (18 shillings and 7 pence) were made in January 1918 to his brother, Walter, and his 2 sisters, Mabel Gregory and Alice M. Aston. His War Gratuity was £5/10/0d (5 pounds and 10 shillings), this was paid to his brother Walter in November 1919. The value of the War Gratuity suggests that Henry had enlisted in approximately May 1915.

John's sister, Alice, applied for a Dependant's Pension in respect of her brother. This was refused as she had married in April 1917 and was now Mrs Alice Maud Aston, living at 3 New Cross Street, Tipton.

Action resulting in his death

The Battle of Flers-Courcelette began on 15th September 1916 as the start of the third phase of the Battle of the Somme. The German intermediate and third lines were to be attacked aiming to capture the villages of Morval, Lesboeufs and Gueudecourt. This was famous as the first time that Tanks were to be used in action.

The 1st Leicesters moved into position overnight 14th/15th September 1916 into trenches running south-east from Ginchy towards Leuze Wood. Their objective was ‘Straight Trench’ which ran between the heavily fortified positions known as ‘The Triangle’ and ‘The Quadrilateral’. The 1/Leicesters and 9th Norfolks were the first wave for 71st Brigade (of 6th Division) with the 9th Suffolks and 2nd Sherwood Foresters to move through once the first objective had been reached.

Three tanks had been allocated to 6th Division. Two broke down before the start and the other (Tank 533) apparently fired on the 9th Norfolks before moving on and firing at the Germans in the Quadrilateral and returning. The effect was minimal.

The attack commenced at 06.20 a.m. but the troops were unable to keep up with the artillery barrage so losing its protection. Immediately German machine gun fire began and caused very heavy casualties, and undamaged barbed wire in front of ‘Straight Trench’ halted progress.

The battalion had failed to achieve its objectives. However, some ground was made and by 10 a.m. 1/Leicesters and 9th Norfolks were digging in close to the enemy's wire and trenches. This was the position at the end of the day and was unchanged until they withdrew on the 17th September to Maltz Horn Farm.

The 1/Leicesters began the attack with 23 Officers and 643 Other Ranks, the War Diary records 14 Officers and 410 Other Ranks were casualties. Current records show that 1 Officer and 151 Other Ranks were killed on the day, this includes Henry Thompson. Henry, like the majority of his comrades killed that day, has no known grave and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme.

Thompson Henry Quadrilateral

Newspaper Cuttings

Birmingham Daily Gazette 7th November 1916
Midlands Names in the Roll of Honour.
LEICESTERS. - Thompson, 17924, H.L., (Tipton).