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680516 GNR. T. S. MARSHALL.  R.F.A.


Thomas Sawyer Marshall was born in December 1889 in Preston and baptised at Preston St Matthew on 6 February 1890.  His father was William Marshall (b. 1867 in Preston), an assistant collector of assessed taxes.  His mother was Margaret Sawyer (b. 1857 in Great Eccleston).  William is an intriguing character.  On his marriage certificate, his father’s name is recorded as James Fairclough; he was born out of wedlock and he was brought up in Lower Penwortham by his mother and grandmother.   His grandmother was an accountant so he got into his profession through her.  William and Margaret were married at Penwortham St Mary’s in 1888 and Thomas was their first-born.  They had four more children, three of whom survived: Annie Elizabeth (b. 1892), William Arnold (b. 1894) and Ernest (b. 1896).  The 1901 and 1911 Censuses provide another puzzle: in 1901 Margaret and her children are living in Middleforth with her mother-in-law, Margaret is recorded as married but there is no William.  There’s no William either in 1911: Margaret is shown as the head of the household and they live at 99 Leyland Road, Penwortham.  I don’t have any conclusive evidence but there is a William Marshall who matches the biographical profile of our William in Strangeways Prison in 1901, so if you know this family and have any more information, I would love to hear from you.  In 1911, Tom was working as a domestic groom.


Tom Marshall was 25 when War broke out and may have already been in the Territorials.  He was assigned service number 1914 and posted to “B” Battery of 276 Brigade, Royal Field Artillery.  Most of 276Bde went to France with 55th Division in September 1915 but Tom was among a contingent who joined them in the field later in the year.  He landed in France on 23 December 1915.  His service number was later changed to 680516.


In October 1916, after their engagement in the Battle of the Somme, 55th Division was transferred to the “quieter” Ypres Salient.  The Divisional History says that in the following 10 months, the Division was engaged in constant raids and a number of minor operations.  The Division as a unit was not actively engaged in the June operation which resulted in the capture of the Messines ridge (7-14 June 1917), but the Divisional artillery did cooperate in the attack and was subsequently complimented by the Army Commander on its efficient work.


Tom Marshall was killed in action near Vlamertinghe on 5 July 1917.  He was 27 years old.


Rank:  Gunner

Service No:  680516

Date of Death:  05/07/1917

Age:  27

Regiment/Service:  Royal Field Artillery, “B” Bty, 276 Bde.

Cemetery/memorial reference:  III. E. 17.


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