RFA West Lancs Bdes
696740 GNR. T. BAMBER. R.F.A.
Thomas Bamber was born on 1 March 1886 in Bamber Bridge and baptised at St Saviour’s on 11 April. His father was John Bamber (b. 1841 in Longton), a farmer/market gardener. John (Jack) was married three times. His first wife was Hannah Blundle (b. 1844 in Hutton). They were married in 1868 and had four children: Ann (b. 1869), Sam (b. 1870), Jim (b. 1872) and Dorothy (b. 1874). Hannah died in 1875 and later that year Jack married Eleanor Bell (b. 1841 in Kendal). Eleanor died the following year, possibly in childbirth, and Jack married for the third time in 1879, this time to Jane Johnson (b. 1857 in Hutton). Jane died in 1910 or early 1911, as John completed his Census form declaring that he was a widower and had been married 32 years (to Jane) and that he had 13 children (with both Jane and Hannah, and possibly Eleanor), 5 of whom had died. Jack and Jane’s surviving children were Cicely (b. 1880), Jane (b. 1882) and the youngest, Thomas. Jane was only 22 when she and Jack were married (he was 38) so she may have had other children who died in infancy. In 1911, Jack was retired and living at Lostock Fold Farm in Bamber Bridge with four unmarried children, all of whom (including Tom) were weavers in the cotton mill.
Like many other Bamber Bridge men, Tom joined the Royal Field Artillery on 19 May 1915, and was initially assigned service number 2410 but unlike many of his fellows who joined 286Bde he was posted to a Trench Mortar Battery attached to 55th (West Lancashire) Division and in 1917 he was given a new style service number, 696740.
55th (West Lancashire) Division fought at Guillemont and Ginchy (on the Somme) in September 1916, suffering severe losses especially at Guillemont. They also fought at Flers-Courcelette and Morval later that month, and then in October 1916 they were moved to the Ypres Salient, at the time a relatively quieter part of the front. Although there were no major engagements at this time, there was constant harassment, shelling and raids.
In January 1917, 55th Division were first in reserve at Houtkerque, on the French/Belgian border, and then, on 25 January, they were moved up to support the defence of Ypres. In March 1917, 276 Brigade were engaged in the bombardment of St. Julien (Sint Juliaan) in retaliation for German shelling of St Jean. 5 men from 276 Brigade were killed during the period 3-9 March. Tom was wounded in action and subsequently died on 5 March 1917 at No3 Canadian Casualty Clearing Station near Lijssenthoek in Belgium (not France as in the article). He was 31 years old.
Service No: 696740
Date of Death: 05/03/1917
Regiment/Service: Royal Field Artillery, Reserve Medium Trench Mortar Bty
Grave Reference: XI. B. 22.
Cemetery: LIJSSENTHOEK MILITARY CEMETERY
Additional Information: Son of John and Jane Bamber, of Lostock Fold Farm, Bamber Bridge, Preston.