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680526 BDR. T. WELLS.  R.F.A.


Thomas Wells was born in the last quarter of 1894 in Preston.  His father was Thomas Wells (b. 1864 in Preston), a stevedore’s labourer on the docks.  His mother was Ellen Smith (b. 1861 in Preston).  Thomas and Ellen were married in 1884 and they had 9 children, though they lost 3 in infancy.  The survivors were: Mary Agnes (b. 1886), William (b. 1887), Maggie (b. 1890), Nellie (b. 1892), then Thomas, and finally Rose (b. 1898).  In 1911, the family lived at 128 London Road, Preston, and Tom jnr was working as creeler in a spinning shed.


Tom probably enlisted in 1915 and he was posted to “A” Battery of 286 Brigade.  He was later assigned service number 680526 and at some stage was promoted to Bombardier.


Thomas landed with 57th Division in France in February 1917.  He served first in the defence of Armentières and later in 1917 in the Second Battle of Passchendaele.  In April 1918, he fought in the Battle of the Lys.  After a period of rest and training, on 12 May 1918, 286Bde returned to the front line at Sailly-au-Bois.  The rest of May and all of June were relatively quiet, with some exchanges of shell fire by both sides but no major raids or attacks.  The Brigade was back up to a reasonable strength, with about 30 Officers, 760 Other Ranks and 600 horses.  July was also relatively quiet and at the end of the month the Brigade moved from Sailly, first to Couin then on to Fosseux, west of Arras.  On 1 August, Brigade headquarters were established in Arras and after a quiet few days, heavy shelling began on 9 August.  On 10 August 2nd Lt. Waldegrave was killed when a bomb dropped on their new positions.  12-17 August was again relatively quiet, and on 17-18 August the Brigade moved to new positions at Anzin-St-Aubin, where Bdr Thomas Wells and 2nd Lt H. L. Smith were killed on 17 August.  Tom Wells was 23 years old.  2nd Lt Waldegrave was 19; 2nd Lt Smith was 20.


Rank:  Bombardier

Service No:  680526

Date of Death:  17/08/1918

Age:  23

Regiment/Service:  Royal Field Artillery, “A” Bty, 286th Bde. Cemetery/memorial reference:   III. E. 8.


Additional Information:  Son of Ellen Wells, of 128 London Road, Preston.

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