Thomas Lunt and James Rainford Norman

The following two biographies were written by Victoria Doran:


From his military record it is clear that he was actually known as Tom. He was closely connected to 2 other West Kirby men commemorated on Grange Hill War Memorial. His sister Annie married John Hartness, brother of David Hartness. His brother Frank married Jane Rainford, whose eldest sister Mary Ann was the mother of James Rainford Norman.

Tom Lunt was born on 8 February 1882 in West Kirby, and baptised on 2 April at St Bridget. He was the eldest of the 5 children of John Lunt and Rebecca Welch. For several generations all his Lunt ancestors were from North West Wirral, and on his mother’s side from Hoylake and Liverpool.

John Lunt was a stone mason, who died before 1901 (probably in 1895 in Liverpool), after which Rebecca returned to her occupation of laundress in order to support her family. By 1901 she was running her own business at home at 52 Birkett Road, West Kirby, with 4 teenage children at home, youngest son John being in Pontefract living with his mother’s sister Margaret and her husband George Walker. As all the higher house numbers in Birkett Road are 2 up, 2 down terrace houses with a ground floor measuring 12.5 ft by 20 ft, and at that time would have had outside toilets, life must have been very difficult, especially in poor weather. In good weather she would have been able to dry the washing out on Grange Hill, as at that time Birkett Road and Marine Park were the only roads that had been built down from Lang Lane. In 1901 Thomas was working as a butcher.

On 12 September 1910 at Wirral Register Office Tom married Catherine Thomas from Bethesda near Bangor, Caernarvonshire. She was the daughter of Edward and Catherine Anne Thomas, her father being a quarry labourer. All their census returns are in Welsh, so presumably she was a Welsh speaker.

In 1911 Catherine and their eldest son Thomas Frederick Lunt (also known as Tom; born at Bethesda 2 January 1911) were living with her parents, whilst Thomas was now at 58 Birkett Road living with his mother and youngest brother. A second son William Edward Lunt (known as Willie) was born on 28 July 1912 in West Kirby.

East Yorkshire Regiment

East Yorkshire Regiment Cap Badge

At the time of his attestation at Hoylake Town Hall on 1 December 1915 he was working for S.Freeman of 76 Banks Road, West Kirby as a butcher. Although only 5 ft 4.75 in tall, weighing 134 lb, he had an impressive chest of 37in with a 4 in expansion. He was placed on the reserve until 5 September 1916, when he joined the 1st Battalion East Yorkshire Regiment, possibly choosing this Regiment due to the family connection to Pontefract.

On 1 January 1917 he left Folkestone for Boulogne, transferring to the 13th Battalion, East Yorkshire Regiment on the 25th. On 18 January 1918 he was granted home leave, returning to his Battalion on 11 February 1918, only to be posted missing on 22 March. His wife heard nothing further from the army, leading to her writing to ask for more information at the beginning of January 1919.

"Deeside Advertiser"

“Deeside Advertiser”

By 7 June 1919 when medals were being distributed, the Lunt family were mostly living in Birkett Road. Mother Rebecca was in No. 58; widow Catherine in No. 52; brothers Frank and John together with David Hartness’ widow Annie were in No.31; brother Fred in No. 44; and sister Annie Hartness at No.40. Clearly this was a very close family.

As well as being commemorated on the Pozieres Memorial, Tom is remembered on the family grave marker at St Bridget, West Kirby.

Lunt Family Grave

Lunt Family Grave, St. Bridget’s Church Yard, West Kirby

Birth: 8 Feb 1882 at West Kirby (calculated from attestation)
Death: 22 Mar 1918 in Somme, France; posted as missing
Addresses: Beacon Road, West Kirby (91); 52 Birkett Road, West Kirby (01); 58 Birkett Road, West Kirby (11)
Occupation: Butcher
Unit: 1st Battalion, East Yorkshire Regiment
Number and Rank: 128562, Private
Medals: Victory and British War
Commemorated and Buried: GH, WK, France : Pozieres Memorial
Sources: BR, SDGW, CWGC, SR, MC, BN, DA, Census: 91, 01, 11, PR, BR


James Rainford Norman was born on 7 September 1896 in West Kirby, the 2nd son and third child of George Norman (a bricklayer) and Mary Ann Rainford. In all they had 8 children, 2 of whom died in infancy. He was baptised into the Church of England at St Bridget, West Kirby on 19 Nov 1896. His father came from Neston, but his mother was West Kirby born and bred. His mother’s youngest sister Jane Rainford married Frank Lunt, brother of THOMAS LUNT.

James was not the only member of his family to serve in WW1, as this photograph which includes both his older brother Gordon and his ‘uncle’ Frank Lunt shows.

James Rainford orman and Brothers in the "West Kirby News"

 James Rainford Norman’s Brother Gordon Rainford Norman and Friends in the “West Kirby News”. Tom Rainford was his second cousin once removed.

The family moved around West Kirby quite frequently as in 1901 they were living in Acacia Grove, in 1911 at 10 Westbourne Road and on his enlistment in the Royal Marines on 30 November 1914 at 13 Brook Terrace.On his enlistment he lied about his age, claiming to have been born in 1895. In fact he was just 18 years old. At the time he was a builder’s labourer.

Royal Marines light Infantry Cap Badge

Royal Marines light Infantry Cap Badge

His record describes him as 5ft 6 in tall, with a fresh complexion, grey eyes and brown hair. Throughout his service his conduct was ‘very good, whilst his ability improved from moderate to satisfactory.

Having joined the Royal Marines in Liverpool he was posted to the Plymouth Battalion of the Royal Marines Light Infantry. After training he left Gosport on 16 April 1915 for Gallipoli, where he was wounded 3 times, including a gun shot wound in his right arm, by 31 July 1915. On 1 Jan 1916 the Plymouth Battalion was merged with other units to form the 2nd ‘Hawke’ Battalion. On 27 January 1916 he had recovered from his wounds and rejoined his Battalion in France.

On 10 July 1916 he is recorded as having rheumatic fever, and on 31 August 1916 he was killed in action between Arras and Bethune.

"Birkenhead News"

“Birkenhead News” 16th September 1916

As well as his actual grave he is commemorated on his parent’s grave at St Bridget, West Kirby.

Norman Family Grave

Birth: 7 Sep 1895 at West Kirby
Death: 31 Aug 1916 in Pas de Calais, France; killed in action
Addresses: Acacia Grove, West Kirby (01); 10 Westbourne Road, West Kirby (11); 13 Brook Terrace, West Kirby (14)
Occupation: builder’s labourer
Unit: 2nd Battalion, Royal Marines Light Infantry
Number and Rank: PLY/594/S; Private
Medals: 1915 Star, Victory and British War
Commemorated and Buried: WK, GH, St. Bridget’s, France : Tranchee de Mecknes Cemetery, Aix-Noulette
Sources: BR,  CWGC, SDGW, SR, Medal record, BN, Census: 01, 11, PR, BR


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