Private 11454 Thomas Whitehouse

Whitehouse Thomas 96 400x600  Whitehouse Thomas 96 397x600

Killed in Action on Thursday, 15th October 1914, age 21.
Buried in Grave VIII. B. 17. at Vieille-Chapelle New Military Cemetery, Lacouture, Pas De Calais, France.

2nd Bn., Royal Scots. 8th Brigade of 3rd Division.

Son of Thomas Whitehouse, of 1, Coneygree Rd., Tipton, Staffs.
Born: Burnt Tree, Enlisted: Tipton, Resident: Unknown.

First landed France & Flanders, 11th August 1914.
Medal entitlement: 1914 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal.
Soldier's Papers at National Archives survived and transcribed.

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/280685/

Genealogical Data

1901 Census
1 Coneygree Road, Tipton, Staffs.
Thomas Whitehouse (46, Furnace Labourer, born Tipton), his wife Sarah (43, born Dudley), and their 5 children: Joseph (22, Cinder Labourer, born Tipton), Benjamin (18, Brickyard Labourer, born Tipton), Annie (13, born Tipton), Emma (11, born Tipton), and Thomas (7, born Tipton).

1911 Census
1 Coneygree Road, Tipton, Staffs.
Thomas Whitehouse (56, Labourer, born Tipton), his wife Sarah (53, born Dudley), and 3 of their 8 children: Annie (23, born Tipton), Emma (21, Factory Hand, born Tipton), and Thomas (17, Moulder, born Tipton).

Personal Data

Thomas's brother Benjamin Whitehouse was killed on 22nd August 1915 in Gallipoli serving with the Yorks & Lancaster Regiment.

Thomas Whitehouse attested in Royal Scots on 27th March 1913 for a period of 7 years, and a further 5 years in the Reserves. He was aged 19 years and 1 month old, 5 feet 3½ inches tall with a 37-inch chest, and weighed 133 pounds. He had blue eyes and brown hair, with a scar in the left angle of his mouth. He was unmarried, born in Burnt Tree, a Wesleyan by religion, and employed as a moulder.

A reference was given by Mr Frank Hawkins, an Iron founder of 60 Burnt Tree, who had employed him as a moulder for about 4 years from leaving school until he left that employ in February 1912. Mr Hawkins described Thomas Whitehouse as "Sober, honest and very orderly." His relatives were given as Thomas and Sarah Whitehouse (parents), and brothers Joseph and Benjamin (Benjamin was killed in 1915) of 1 Coneygree Road, Tipton.

He joined the Depot Battalion for training on 30th March 1913, and transferred to the 2nd Battalion of Royal Scots on 28th August 1913. His Regimental Employment Sheet states that during his time with the 2nd Battalion "he shows considerable determination of character. Honest and clean." His military character was noted as "Very Good". Both his Medical and Conduct Sheets were unblemished.

The Statement of names and addresses of relatives (post death) stated:
Parents: Thomas and Sarah Whitehouse of 1 Coneygree Road, Tipton,
Brother: Joseph Whitehouse, of Munition Huts, Dudley,
Sisters: Sarah Whitehouse, 39, of Birmingham, Rachel Stuart, 38, of Munition Huts, Dudley, Mary Ann Bissel, 33, of Handsworth, Annie Jeavons, of Coneygree Road, Tipton, and Emma Dyke, 27, of Hopkins Street, Tipton.

After Thomas's death, his outstanding army pay and allowances amounted to £5/12/7d (5 pounds, 12 shillings and 7 pence); this was paid to his mother and sole legatee, Sarah, in January 1915. Thomas's War Gratuity was £5/0/0d (5 pounds exactly), this was also paid to his mother in May 1919.

A Dependant's Pension of 3/0d (3 shillings) per week was paid to his father, Thomas, from 11th September 1917. This was subsequently increased to 3/6d, and then to 5/0d per week, and in 1920 noted that it was to be paid "for life".

Action resulting in his death

The 2nd Royal Scots (2/RS) landed in France from the 11th August 1914, amongst the first of the British Expeditionary Force to arrive. They saw action at the Battles of Mons and Le Cateau, where they came under heavy artillery fire at Audencourt. They marched over 100 miles in seven days to see action on the River Aisne before moving back towards Bethune.

The Commonwealth War Graves records the 2/RS had 56 Other Ranks killed between 12th and 15th October: a single man on the 14th and all of the others on 15th October. The War Diary records the action between these two dates, and in fact shows heavier losses on all the 12th-14th than the 15th, so the 55 deaths could have occurred on any of these days.

On 12th October 1914, 2/RS were in Le Cornet Malo, about 3 miles north of Bethune. They received orders to advance at 3.45pm towards Croix Barbee and Pont Du Hem, about 5 miles to the north-east. On this day they reached Vieille Chapelle, about half distance, but had encountered heavy rifle fire causing casualties.

On the 13th October, their advance was delayed by early-morning mist, but still approached their objective Croix Barbee. Here they encountered very heavy German resistance and were forced to retire to a position about 1½ miles from their objective. ‘A’ and especially ‘C’ companies had heavy casualties. This position was held on the next day as the neighbouring Gordon Highlanders were not sufficiently advanced, also German artillery fire was significant.

On 15th October, at 2.15pm, 2/RS again advanced. They got within 500 yards of Croix Barbee before being forced to halt due to heavy machine-gun fire. Orders were received that 2/RS had to take their objective, so the attack was to be continued after dark. This was done, and the objective taken with little resistance.

The advance to Croix Barbee – Pont Du Hem had taken 4 days, and 3 Officers and 59 Other Ranks of the 2nd Royal Scots had lost their lives. 33 of these men are buried in Vielle Chapelle New Military Cemetery with 30 of them constituting Row B in Plot 8; this includes Thomas Whitehouse.

Originally, all 30 men buried in Row B had been buried in Harrow Road Corner Cemetery. On October 10th 1919 they were exhumed and re-buried in Vieille-Chapelle New Military Cemetery by 733rd Labour Company. Harrow Road Corner Cemetery was approximately 1.75 miles south-west of Croix Barbee (today Rouge Croix), and 1.3 miles south-east of Vieille-Chapelle New Military Cemetery. From CWGC records it seems that the original location may have been a mass burial as the Burial Return says "1 cross with all particulars, ... killed in action October 14th-15th" and records 30 men of the 2nd Royal Scots.

Newspaper Cuttings

Tipton Herald October 9th 1915
Private Ben Whitehouse is the second of a Dudley Port family to give his life for his King and Country. His brother, Thomas Whitehouse, was killed in action in France during the latter part of last year.
Benjamin enlisted in the York and Lancaster Regiment at the outbreak of the war, and his widow has recently received official intimation of his death while serving in the Dardanelles, on August 22nd. Private Whitehouse leaves three children.