St Tommy's Tommies - WWI 1914-18

2014 is the centenary of the start of World War I , and the school is working on a project on the 19 men of the parish that lost their lives during the war. Soldiers in the First World War were called "Tommies" so we are calling the project St Tommy's Tommies" after the name of the school, the church and parish.  Do you know anything about these men?  Several of them share names with families in our school so if you're family has lived in Garstang for a long time could they be related to you? Research is underway but if you have any information on any of these men, or know anything about life in Garstang during the war please contact Mrs Hodge by email: bursar@garstang-st-thomas.lancs.sch.uk or call into the school office. Thank you.


In May every year, Garstang has a Children's Festival with a Whit Parade. This year the school entered the parade as "St Tommy's Tommies" with nineteen children dressed as the nineteen men and other children dressed as poppies. Lots of people worked very hard on the costumes and props, (special thanks to Mr Flint, Mrs Craggs, Mrs Freeman, Mrs Carter, Mrs Fricker, Ms Wood and Mrs Hodge) which were as factually accurate as we could manage - each soldier wore his regimental colours on his helmet, had his rank stripes or pips on his uniform (where appropriate) and proudly wore the medals won. The soldiers also carried speech bubbles to tell the watching crowds a little bit about their life in Garstang before they went to war. Charles Hills who was a driver in the war, was also given a car to "drive", John Coward lead the way in his fantastic biplane and James Cross rode his horse. Two of our gunners also pulled a field gun and accompanying parents pushed our own war memorial round town. The video below is made up of photos taken by Mr Hambleton on the day with an authentic WW1 soundtrack! It is a very large file so please be patient and if it won't open you can also see it at http://www.schooltube.com/video/07ab81a55d2549fa887c/Tommy%27s%20Tommies
 

Thomas Armstrong born 1892. He lived on the High Street before the war and worked as a draper's apprentice. His dad was a painter and decorator. He was a member of the 8th Battalion of the King's Own Royal Lancaster Regiment, with James Lea , Albert Mather and Thomas Fisher. He died on 30th April 1917 and is remembered at the Arras Memorial in France, as are James, Albert and Thomas.

Wilson Bartlett was born in Preston in 1894 but was living in Garstang by the time he was 3. His mother Rose Ellen Bartlett was a widow and worked as a grocer in the Market. He died at Ypres, Belgium on 3rd August 1917 aged 24 during the Battle of Passchendaele which lasted until November and is also known as the 4th Battle of Ypres.  He was a Private in the 8th Batallion of the South Lancashire Regiment.

John Coward was the son of William and Cissie Coward who ran The Crown Hotel Garstang. He was born in Nottingham. He was a Second Lieutenant in the Royal Flying Corps and died aged just 19 on 25th March 1918. He is buried in St Pierre Cemetary in Amiens.

This photo is Edward Crompton . He was married to Rebecca, the sister of Thomas Fisher, another of the men who died. Edward lived on Moss Lane and is buried in St Thomas' churchyard.  He was a member of the 3rd Bn Royal Welsh Fusiliers. He died at home  on Sunday, 30/07/1916 Aged 33 of heart failure.  He had three children.

James Cross was born in 1895 at Nateby. In 1911 he was working as a cow man at Boan Hill farm in Nateby. James was a Gunner in the Royal Horse Artillery & Royal Field Artillery. He died on 26th August 1918 on Flanders Field. The following poem was written by John McCrae, a Canadian poet he fought in the same battle. He wrote this in the back of an ambulance after noticing how quickly poppies grew around the graves of his fellow soldiers. This poem is part of the reason we wear poppies for remembrance now.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
      Between the crosses, row on row,
   That mark our place; and in the sky
   The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
   Loved and were loved, and now we lie
         In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
   The torch; be yours to hold it high.
   If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
         In Flanders fields.

Thomas Fisher  was born in 1892 and lived on Back Lane in Garstang where his dad worked as a tailor. His sister Rebecca married Edward Crompton. His mum Ellen Fisher moved to Moss Road. He died on 22nd March 1918 aged 26. He was a Private in the 8th Battalion of the King's Own Royal Lancaster Regiment, with James Lea, Albert Mather and Thomas Armstrong.

Richard Albert Hall was born in Pilling in 1897. His dad, also called Richard, was a joiner and his mum was called Margery. He was a Private in The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment 10th Battalion who died on Saturday, 28/04/1917. His brother was a farmer, at Old Carr Farm, Pilling. He was killed at Flanders Field and is buried in the Canadian Cemetary in Neuville, Pas de Calais, France.

Charles Hills  was born in 1893 and his parents lived at Hawthorn Cottage in Bonds. He died on 19th November 1918, after the end of the war. He was in the Army Service Corp so may have been killed clearing bombs.

 James Lea, lived with his wife Elizabeth Annie, in School Cottage adjacent to the old school building on Church Street and so he or Elizabeth may have been something to do with the school. He was born in 1894 in Goosnargh, the son of James and Janet Lea. He married Elizabeth in  1915 at Cockerham St Michael's church. The picture below shows his battalion, which also includes Thomas Fisher , Albert Mather and Thomas Armstrong (the 8th Batallion of the King's Own Royal Lancaster Regiment) just before they left for France. Unfortunately we don't know which ones they are! James died on 12th May 1917 aged 24 in Arras, France.

Thomas Patrick Longworth was a Sapper in the Royal Engineers who died on 9th April 1918 aged 35. A Sapper is a soldier responsible for tasks such as building and repairing roads and bridges, laying and clearing mines, etc. He was the son of Robert Longworth who lived at 172 Watson's Road, South Shore, Blackpool. He married Mary Longworth and they lived at Spring Cottage, Bonds, Garstang.

Albert E Mather was born in Preston in 1888. In 1911 he was working at Park Side Farm in Nateby. He was a private in the 8th Batallion of the King's Own Royal Lancaster Regiment with Thomas Armstrong, Thomas Fisher and James Lea. He was killed on 28th March 1918 and is remembered in Arras with the others from his regiment.

 Arthur Parkinson was born in 1896 and in 1911 he was working as an errand boy and lived on the High Street.

James Parker lived on Diamond Row, Garstang and was born in 1885, the son of Robert and Jane Parker. He was a gunner in the Royal Garrison Artillery and died on Monday 15th October 1917 aged 32 from wounds gained on Flanders Field. he is buried at Etaples Military Cemetary, Pas de Calais, France. He was the husband of Mary Parker, who lived at Wheatfield House, Bowgreave, Garstang. 

Colin Pye was born in 1895, the son of Septimus and Margaret Pye of Greenbrae, Bowgreave. He was a Second Lieutenant in the 1st Battalion of the King's Shropshire Light Infantry who died on the 8th October 1918 aged 23.

Richard Richardson was born in 1883 the son of the miller who lived at Mill House. His father died before him and his mother moved to Skye House in Bonds.

We thought George W Ronson may have been a Lance Corporal in the Coldstream Guards who died on 27th August 1918. We have been contacted by a lady from Nottingham who has been tracing her family tree and believes she is related to him. This is what she told us:

I believe he was born in October 1890 or 1895, in Garstang. he was one of nine children to Agnes and George Ronson. He served in the second battalion of the Coldstream Guards as a Lance Corporal. His service number is 14401. George's division probably fought in the battlefields near Arras. He died on the 28th August 1918 and is buried in Croislles British cemetery.

George's sister, Ethel is on the census aged 17 working as a cook at Fluke Hall. At that time I believe it was the home of the local vicar and his family. Ethel gave birth to my father, Frank Ronson in Fylde Blackpool in July 1919. He seems to have been brought up by an 'aunt', and I think as Ethel was probably not married my dad, did not ever live with his birth mother.

She also sent us these two photos of  the cemetary in France where he is buried.


William Thomas' father Joseph was the chemist on the High Street. He was a Second Lieutenant in the East Lancashire Regiment who died on the 7th November 1918 aged 26. He was the son of Joseph and Annie and husband of Florence Louisa Hudson. 

Richard Hall Ward was Serjeant (that's how it was spelled then!) in the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment and died at Ypres, Belgium, just 4 days before Wilson Bartlett died in the same battle,the  Battle of Passchendaele. He was the son of Thomas and Annie Ward of Wall Farm, Little Ecclestone.

Noel T Worthington was a Lieutenant in the 6th Battalion of  the King's Own Royal Lancaster Regiment who died on the 8th August 1915 aged 31. His father Robert lived in Dublin, Ireland.