This post was written by Victoria Doran.
A time served regular soldier from Greasby, already aged over 40 when war was declared, who died in the aftermath of the Battle of Loos.
Frankby War Memorial
Henry Thompson was born in the spring of 1872 in Greasby and baptised on 30 May at St John the Divine, Frankby. He was the eldest of the three children of Alexander Thompson (1842-1909) and Catherine Langley (1841-1903). Alexander Thompson was a market gardener, and was the sister of Ann Thompson, the mother of Ernest Robert Goodwin. Henry’s paternal ancestry is covered under his cousin Ernest’s post.
Catherine Langley was the daughter of Samuel Langley (1808-1884) and Jane Wilson (1806-1881). Both the Langley and Wilson families lived in the Carr area of Saughall Massie and were agricultural labourers for generations.
In 1891 Henry was living at home in Greasby and working as a labourer. His only brother George Thompson (1874-1893) died at the end of 1893, and this may be what made Henry decide to enlist in the Cheshire Regiment as Private 4554 of the 1st Battalion on 22 January 1894. On 5 February 1895 he arrived in India with his battalion. He remained in India for 7 years, serving in several places in what are now India and Pakistan, and passing as a mounted infantryman.
On 18 April 1902 the battalion moved to South Africa. They arrived just a month before the end of the Boer War, so probably saw no action there. However Henry did qualify for the South Africa medal.
King’s South Africa medal
On 12 September 1902 he arrived back in England and was posted to the reserve 2 months later. The Army was being radically reduced in size after the end of the Boer War. He was finally discharged from the Regiment on 21 January 1906, having served 12 years. He had not been the perfect soldier, frequently being fined 1d a day from his pay for a variety of undesirable behaviour.
When his father died in 1909, Henry was the executor of his small estate and was working as a labourer again. Henry has not been located at the 1911 census.
It is not known when Henry re-enlisted, but it is likely to have been in 1914, as he arrived in France on 22 February 1915 as Private 10441 of the 2nd Battalion, Cheshire Regiment.
Cheshire Regiment cap badge
The 2nd Battalion had been serving in India and arrived in France a few weeks before Henry joined them. The Battalion was part of the 84th Brigade of the 28th Division. They fought throughout the 2nd Battle of Ypres in April and May 1915.
From 25 September 1915 they were deeply involved in the Battle of Loos and the fighting for Hill 70. The losses over the next 3 days were huge for all the 12 battalions involved, and the objectives were not achieved.
On 3 October 1915 the Germans attacked the Hohenzollern Redoubt and recaptured it. Henry almost certainly died during this action. His body was not recovered and he is commemorated on the Loos Memorial.
Henry is also commemorated on the Frankby War Memorial in the churchyard of the church where he was baptised 42 years before he died.
Henry’s sister Annie Thompson (1877-1924) married George Goodwin (1875-???), who was almost certainly related to her aunt Ann Thompson’s husband. She received Henry’s final pay and War Grant of £11/5/-.
Birth: Apr 1872 in Greasby
Death: 3 Oct 1915 at Loos, Pas-de-Calais, Nord-Pas-de-Calais, France; killed in action
Addresses: Greasby (81) (91); India (95); South Africa (02)
Occupation: labourer; regular soldier
Units: 1st Battalion, Cheshire Regiment; 2nd Battalion, Cheshire Regiment
Numbers & Rank: 4554, 10441; Private
Medals: 15 Star,Victory and British War; South Africa medal
Commemorated: Loos Memorial, Pas-de-Calais, Nord-Pas-de-Calais, France; Grange Hill War Memorial, Frankby War Memorial
Sources: GH, F, CWGC, MC, RSE, SDGW, Census: 81, 91, BR, PR, Probate, Royal Hospital Chelsea Pensioner Soldier Service Records