Date of birth: 1896
Date of death: 01.12.1917
Area: Outwood, Wakefield
Regiment: Grenadier Guards
Family information: Son of Alfred and Eliza Naylor nee Myton
Service number: 21812
Shortly after war was declared, on 4th August 1914, Thomas Naylor volunteered for military service, joining the Grenadier Guards. On 13th October 1915 Guardsman Naylor was posted to France to join the 4th Battalion, Grenadier Guards. The 4th battalion, Grenadier Guards had sailed to France on 24th July 1915 and was later attached to the 3rd Guards Brigade of the Guards Division. The Division spent the winter months of 1915/16 in the trenches around Hulluch and Vermelles.
The Battle of the Somme began on 1st July 1916, however it was not until the end of the month that the 3rd Guards Brigade became involved, moving into the line in the Beaumont-Hamel sector. On the 12th September the 4th Grenadier Guards was in support of a failed attack on The Quadrilateral. Three days later, on 15th September, the Battalion was involved in an attack towards Lesboeufs, passing over the first objective and digging-in 500 yards north of Ginchy. Within a few days the 4th Battalion had returned to the front line for a further attack, which saw the second objective taken. When relieved on 26th September the Battalion had incurred 458 casualties during their deployment in the front line.
In 1917 the Guards Division was involved in the pursuit of the German Army, retreating to the Hindenburg Line, before moving to the Ypres area. Here the Guards Division was involved at Pilkem Ridge, the Menin Road and Passchendaele during the Third Battle of Ypres. However, on the 17th November, the Division left the Ypres area and moved south, towards Cambrai.
The Battle of Cambrai began on the 20th November 1917 and initially the assault was successful, but the break-through to Cambrai was not achieved. The fighting raged throughout the next day and, late on the 21st November, the assault troops were instructed to consolidate their positions. On the 25th November the 4th Grenadier Guards moved into Bourlon Wood to cover an attack by the Irish Guards. When relieved, on the night of the 27th November, the Battalion moved to the Havringcourt Wood area.
However, early on 30th November, the enemy launched counter-attacks across the salient formed by the initial British attack and broke through at Gonnelieu. The 3rd Guards Brigade was ordered east and by 17.00 hrs the 4th Grenadier Guards had crossed the Trescault-Gouzeaucourt road and dug-in. At 6.30 hrs on 1st December the 3rd Guards Brigade launched an assault against the village of Gonnelieu. The 4th Grenadier Guards was on the left of the brigade assault. From their positions on the Gonnelieu side of the railway track the Battalion, with no artillery support, was to advance 1500 yards over open ground, which was covered by machine-gun and rifle fire. Visibility was poor and No 2 Coy advanced too far to the right and incurred many casualties, No 7 Platoon being wiped out. No 3 Coy entered Gonnelieu and occupied positions in the cemetery, from where their Lewis Gun was able to enfilade the retiring enemy. Although groups of men entered the village, the 4th Battalion was eventually forced back to a trench in front of the village. No 1 Coy was sent forward and, assisted by No 4 Coy and the remnants of the other companies, occupied and strengthened this trench, until relieved on 3rd December.
Guardsman Thomas Naylor, of No 1 Coy, was killed in action on 1st December 1917. He was not recovered from the battlefield and has no known grave. His name is inscribed on the Cambrai Memorial which stands on a terrace within the Louverval Military Cemetery. The Memorial commemorates more than 7,000 servicemen who died in the Battle of Cambrai and have no known grave.
Born in 1896, Thomas Naylor was the son and third child of Alfred Naylor and his wife Eliza Myton of Thorpe. His parents, how married in 1893, had previously lived at Allerton Bywater, near Castleford, where his father was employed as a blacksmith. At the time of the 1911 census, the family was living at Appleyards Buildings, Lingwell Gate, Outwood. At this time Thomas Naylor was fourteen years of age and working as a fireman in a stone quarry.