Private 31794 Daniel Thornton

  Thornton Daniel 96 395x600

Killed in Action on Sunday, 15th October 1916, age 20.
Commemorated on Pier and Face 10 C 10 D and 11 A of Thiepval Memorial, Somme, France.

2nd Bn., Sherwood Foresters (Notts & Derby Regt.). 71st Brigade of 6th Division.

Son of the Mr James and the late Mrs Rose Thornton, 20 Lockside. Tipton, Staffs.
Born: Tipton, Enlisted: Tipton, 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/816154/

Genealogical Data

Birth of Daniel Thornton registered March quarter 1896 in Dudley.

1901 Census
19 Lockside, Tipton, Staffs.
James Thornton (48, Labourer at Ironworks, born Dudley), his wife Rose (46, born Dudley), and their 5 sons: Alfred (16, Iron Moulder, born Tipton), William (13, born Tipton), Joseph (10, born Tipton), Thomas (7, born Tipton) and Daniel (5, born Tipton).

1911 Census
20 Lockside, Tipton, Staffs.
James Thornton (59, Anchor Forgeman, born Dudley), his wife Rose (55, born Dudley), and 2 of their 9 surviving children of 11: Joseph (19, General Labourer, born Tipton), and Daniel (15, Miner - Underground, born Tipton).

Personal Data

After Daniel's death, his outstanding army pay and allowances amounted to £2/14/11d (2 pounds, 14 shillings and 11 pence); this was paid to his sister and sole legatee, Mrs Margaret Lakin, in February 1917. His War Gratuity was £3/0/0d (3 pounds exactly), this was also paid to Mrs Margaret Lakin in September 1919. The value of the War Gratuity suggests that Daniel had enlisted in the 12 months prior to his death.

Action resulting in his death

The slow grinding progress of the Allied Somme offensive had gathered pace during September 1916 with the successful actions on the left wing at Thiepval, and on the right wing at Flers-Courcelette, Guedecourt and Morval. Successful actions, but still very costly in manpower casualties.

Before the Somme actions would shut down over winter, one final push was decided during October to improve the tactical position. In conjunction with the French on their right wing, the British 4th Army was to drive north-eastwards towards Le Transloy with others on the left wing driving towards Bapaume.

The Battle for Le Transloy began on 12th October but the results on that day were disappointing. The action was to re-commence on 18th October after methodical artillery bombardment and local actions to improve the start position for that re-commencement.

On 15th October the 2nd Battalion, Sherwood Foresters (2/SF) were to attack and capture the old German Gun-Pits and adjacent German trenches in front of their position in Cloudy Trench. This is about midway between Guedecourt and Beaulencourt, in the locality of today's Guedecourt Canadian Caribou Memorial.

After a short 10-minute bombardment, 2/SF left their trenches at 05.35hrs. A message was received at 2/SF HQ at 07.00hrs that the Gun-Pits had been taken without loss, but some casualties were then suffered from sniper and machine gun fire. During the afternoon, a communication trench was dug between Cloudy Trench and the Gun-Pits, and a fire trench dug around the Gun-Pits. Despite heavy German shelling, the gains were held.

On the 15th October, 3 Officers and 28 Other Ranks of the 2/SF were killed, this included Tipton man Daniel Thornton. Like the majority of the men killed that day, Daniel has no known grave and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme.

Newspaper Cuttings

Tipton Herald 18th November 1916
What is believed to be a record for Tipton is the case of six brothers named Thornton, who until the death in action of the youngest a fortnight ago, were all serving in the Army or Navy. The father of the six patriotic citizens was James Thornton, an anchorsmith, who was born in Tipton. He was employed by Messrs. H.P. Parkes & Co. Ltd., and lived latterly at 20 Lockside. His wife, who was a Miss Davies, came from a well-known iron-making family, residing in Cross and Union Streets, Tipton. The mother was born in New Cross Street, and died in the same street about three years ago. They had six sons - the subjects of the current sketch, and three daughters.
The eldest brother, James Thornton, was aged 41 last May. He is married and has a family of five children, who reside with their mother in Hall Street, Dudley Road. He is as old soldier, and was on the reserve a fortnight when the South African war broke out. He re-joined, and went through that campaign without a scratch. He re-joined the Army soon after the outbreak of war in November 1914. Formerly with the Worcesters, he is now attached to the Staffordshires. He has been engaged all through the current campaign, and is up to now, fortunately, uninjured. He was employed at the Tipton Furnaces.
The next son is Alfred, of H.M.S. Achilles, a leading stoker. He was 30 in June last. He is married and his wife and child reside in Portsmouth. While living in Tipton, he was employed at Messrs. Stewart & Lloyd's tube works, locally known as the Australian Works. His family are proud of the fact that all through his naval career he has never got a black mark. He joined the senior service in September 1904, and in the ordinary course of things his period at sea would have ended in the present year. He has served on several different vessels, including H.M.S.'s "Furious", "Kestrel" and "King Alfred." On the latter, he was three years in the China and Japanese Seas, and returned on the "Hawk." On H.M.S. "Furious" he was two years serving in South American waters. From South America he was appointed to the "Achilles," on which he remained for four years. He has tried for the position of Chief Stoker, but his eyesight failed, and so while doing the work he does not carry the rank. While out in Japanese waters and during shore leave, he purchased some lovely Japanese silk work at Nagasaki, which he sent home to his married sister, Mrs Webb.
William Thornton, aged 27 (single), has served in the Navy and was on the reserve when the war broke out, working at Chatwin's Foundry. Prior to that time among his experiences was that on board H.M.S. "Eden" which ran aground on the Scottish coast, and he had to wade ashore. The whole of the crew lost their belongings, although the vessel was afterwards re-floated. He also served for a time on the ill-fated "Cressy". At the outbreak of war he was appointed to the Naval Brigade, who were sent to the defence of Antwerp. He was one of the 2,000 sailors, who, driven back by the German hordes, had to cross the Dutch frontier, and had been interred ever since. Seaman Thornton's married sister sends him every week a copy of this journal, which he says he could not possibly do without. While he is in the great Dutch internment camp of Groningen, he met a sergeant from Toll End, whom he had not known before. His letters, which are regularly received, are very cheerful. There are 1,500 English sailors quartered together and they have a football match every afternoon. They are allowed four hours per month in the local town, and are regularly taken to the picture palace, which they greatly enjoy. In his spare time he has very cleverly worked in wool, a patriotic design with flags, mottoes etc., which he has sent to Mr and Mrs Joseph Webb. He has also made a model of a Hospital Ship, which came all the way from Holland without the fracturing of a thread. The article came to the sailor's Tipton friends without a fee. He has also had his photo taken by a firm in Groningen, and got a big enlargement for 3d extra, which has been safely received by his married sister (Mrs J. Webb). It is rather interesting to note that a special effort was made in Tipton to relieve the monotony of the sailors interred in Holland, for a band of young ladies was formed, who guaranteed to act as special correspondents to the Naval Brigade, each one taking one of the sailors under her wing, so to speak. Seaman William Thornton has also made a little pair of Dutch shoes, which have likewise reached Tipton without any carriage to pay. He is trying to learn French.
The fourth brother, Private Joseph Thornton, aged 24 (married), has a wife and child living in New Cross Street. He showed his patriotism at an early stage of the war, joining Kitchener's Army in 1914. He had been employed as a shunter at the Tipton Furnaces. He was attached to the 7th South Staffords, and early went to France. He is now at Lichfield, awaiting his discharge as a consequence of having his elbow bone of his right arm blown away. He was in a London hospital, and then at Paignton (Devon), for five months.
The fifth brother, in point of age, is Private Thomas Thornton, age 21, who brought up at Tipton had latterly made his home at Smethwick. He joined the Army under Lord Derby's scheme, seven months ago, becoming a Driver in the Warwickshire Royal Field Artillery, and is expecting to go to Salonica. He was employed at the motor works in Smethwick.
Daniel, the sixth and youngest brother, has made the great sacrifice. He was formerly employed at Messrs. Bailey and Freakley's slag works at Tipton, and was 19 last February (Editor: actually 20). He joined the Sherwood Foresters about 11 months ago, and was only sent to France two months ago, and prior to sailing came home on a brief 48-hour furlough. His Tipton friends received a letter from him saying that he had landed in France. He was killed in action on October 15th, after being about five weeks in France. He was the youngest and smallest of the family. The news of his death was sent home by a comrade, but the official information of his death was not received until Wednesday in last week. He was a very quiet and steady lad. Since his parents' death, he had lived with Mrs Lakin, a married sister, in New Cross Street, and whose husband enlisted in the Royal Field Artillery. Formerly employed at Freakley's, he was latterly a boatman.
Thus ends the record of the six brothers Thornton. Their three married sisters are:- Mrs James Webb of Alexandra Road; Mrs H. Wharton (Smethwick); and Mrs Lakin of New Cross Street. The brothers are first cousins of Mrs Ellis, a well-known resident of Union Street.