RFA West Lancs Bdes
680868 GNR. T. A. PEARSON. R.F.A.
Thomas Aloysius Pearson was born on 15 January 1884 in Bamber Bridge. His father was John Pearson (b. 1849 in Bamber Bridge), a baker by trade. His mother was Elizabeth Ann Nicklin (b. 1856 in Salford). John and Elizabeth were married at St Ignatius’ in Preston in 1883, but Elizabeth already had two children from a previous marriage. In 1877, she had married James Shepherd Gerrard, and their children were Richard (b. 1878) and Annie (b. 1880), but James died later that year, aged only 24. John was previously married to Sarah Martland (b. 1852 in Preston) and they had had 2 children: Ralph (b. 1874) and Elizabeth Ann (b. 1876). Sarah died in 1879. So John and Elizabeth were married in 1883 and they had five children, Thomas was the first, followed by Lucy Ann (b. 1885), John Joseph (1888-1901), Mary Ann (b. 1891) and James (b. 1893). In 1911, John and Elizabeth were living with 5 of their adult children at 47 Station Road, Bamber Bridge. Ralph (from John’s first marriage) was a cotton twister; all the other (now adult) children were weavers.
Tom enlisted on 19 May 1915 in the Royal Field Artillery. His brother James also enlisted at the same time. Tom was assigned service number 680868, James was 680828. (See below for more information about James.) Thomas was posted to “C” Battery of 286 Brigade. After training they landed in France in February 1917 and fought first in the defence of Armentières and then at Passchendaele. In 1918, they fought in the Battle of the Lys and then joined the final push in September.
Tom was killed on 29 September 1918. At the time, 286Bde was attached to the Canadian Division and they were advancing towards Cambrai, which would fall a few days later. The newspaper article tells us that Tom was killed when a shell made a direct hit on the gun he was serving. He was 34 years old.
Service Number: 680868
Date of Death: 29/09/1918
Service/Regiment: Royal Field Artillery, "C" Bty. 286th Bde.
Cemetery/memorial reference: B. 69.
Cemetery: QUEANT COMMUNAL CEMETERY BRITISH EXTENSION
Additional Information: Son of John and Elizabeth Pearson, of 47 Station Road, Bamber Bridge, Preston.
Tom and James signed up at more or less the same time, but as they were almost 10 years apart it looks like they signed up with their class mates rather than together as brothers but they would certainly have been together in training. James’ attestation papers have survived. He was initially assigned service number 2471, which was later changed to 680828, and the two brothers landed in France together with “C” Battery on 8 February 1917. However, it looks from his papers as if James was wounded on 8 November 1917 (so this was at Passchendaele) and he returned home for treatment. Some records on Ancestry suggest he was gassed. James did not return to the front. Whilst at home, on 2 March 1918, he was transferred to the Royal Army Service Corps and given a new service number, 427219, and assigned to motor transport duties. I don’t know where he served, though there is one reference to a disciplinary action (insolence to an officer for which he received 1 day confined to barracks) at Luton on 14 April 1918. He was demobilised on 12 March 1919. His medical papers on discharge say he was suffering from tuberculosis. He died in Bamber Bridge on 28 May 1922, aged 28.
Their brother-in-law was Henry (Harry) Allsopp. Harry was married to their step-sister, Elizabeth Ann Pearson. Harry was born in the first quarter of 1876 in Clayton Le Woods. He and Elizabeth were married at Brownedge St Mary’s on 10 July 1902 and they lived for a while on Brownedge Lane in Bamber Bridge before moving to Clayton Le Woods. Harry was a tackler (overlooker) in a cotton mill. His military records have survived but they take some untangling. Harry attested at Manchester, 10 December 1914, to enlist with 21st Battalion, Manchester Regiment, having previously served with Loyal North Lancs 5Bn (reserves). He was assigned service number 19577. He declares his age as 38yrs 11mths, his occupation as textile worker, and his address as Tootles Terrace, Clayton Le Woods. He is 5’9” tall and has a 43” chest. Given his previous service with the Loyals, Harry was appointed Lance Corporal on 1 December 1914. However, he was discharged on 2 March 1915, as medically unfit. Undeterred, Harry attempted to enlist a second time, on 9 December 1915, this time going back to the Loyals. He was assigned service number 8559 and posted to 5Bn LNLR (a reserve battalion). He was again discharged as medically unfit on 7 September 1916. His condition is chronic synovitis (joint pain), considered to have been aggravated by military service but he has “now passed away” – this record is dated 25 May 1919. Harry has no military medals and we know he did not serve abroad. I have not been able to find any civilian records of his death.