Thomas Wood Gill
Date of birth: 27.12.1883
Date of death: 26.8.1914
Regiment: King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry
Family information: Son of Charles Edward and Harriett Gill
Service number: 10174
The 2nd Battalion arrived in France on 16th August 1914 and were almost immediately thrown into the Battle of Mons and subsequent retreat. Thomas was killed in action in France & Flanders on 26th August 1914 and is buried in Le Cateau Military Cemetery. He was awarded the 1914 Star, Victory Medal and the British War Medal.
“On 23rd August the Battalion was near the Belgium town of Mons, awaiting the arrival of the advancing Germans. Despite superior rifle skill the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) was forced to retreat by the sheer weight of enemy numbers. On 26 August the II Corps (which included the 2nd KOYLI) turned to face the enemy at Le Cateau and held them for a whole day, but when orders to retire were issued they failed to reach the 2nd KOYLI who were overwhelmed. The Battalion left England with 850 officers and men; by midnight, 26 August, it had lost 18 officers, 21 sergeants, 22 corporals, 7 buglers and 532 privates.” Malcolm K Johnson Images of England: The King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry 1857-1968 Tempus Publishing 2000 p44
Thomas was born on December 27th 1883 at Newton Moor Farm, Wakefield, the son of Charles Edward and his wife Harriett. He was baptised on the 23rd January 1884 at Wakefield All Saints (The Cathedral), his middle name Wood being his mother’s maiden name. Sadly he lost his mother in 1885 and in 1891 was living with his farm manager father and his four older siblings in St John’s. By 1901 they had moved to Kirkhamgate and Thomas was now a grocer’s apprentice.
In 1906 Thomas was in a spot of trouble being caught on the train without a ticket as was reported by the Sheffield Evening Telegraph of 28th September.
“For being a traveller on the Great Central Railway without paying his fare and with intent to defraud, Thomas Wood Gill, grocer of Ossett was at Barnsley today fined 10s and costs.”
By 1911 his father had remarried and was a market gardener at Low Laithes Farm, Kirkhamgate, but only his step family were living there. Thomas’ siblings had all married but I could find no record of Thomas in 1911. His absence may be through a mistake in the census or he may be out of the country, however he turned up in 1914 a Corporal in the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry 2nd Battalion number 10174. Being a Corporal so early in the war would suggest he had already been in the army before the war, so may have been abroad on service in 1911.