Dedicated to the memory of all the men and women of the Bridgnorth area who died during the two World Wars.
Thomas William James was the son of Thomas James, a carpet weaver, and his wife Caroline. They lived at Bylet Cottages. When he left school, Thomas William worked as a carpet weaver’s assistant at H & M Southwell. & Co.
Thomas volunteered soon after the start of the war. He served as a driver with ‘D’ Battery, 83rd Brigade. As a battery driver, Thomas would have been responsible for transporting ammunition from the forward dumps to the guns.
As a member of 83rd Brigade Thomas would have seen action in several significant battles on the Western Front. The Somme 1916, The Ancre, and the Third Battle of Ypres. He died on the 15th October, 1917 towards the end of the Third Battle of Ypres. He is buried at New Irish Farm Cemetery, on the northern outskirts of Ypres.
Driver James, 73728, was awarded the Victory and British Medals and the 15 Star. His death was reported in the Bridgnorth Journal on 31 August, 1918.
WOUNDED AND MISSING [Bridgnorth Journal, Saturday 5th January, 1918] R.F.A.: James, 73728, Driver T. W. (Bridgnorth).
DIED FROM WOUNDS [Bridgnorth Journal, Saturday 31st August, 1918] Mrs C. James, 30 Bylet Cottages, Bridgnorth, has received a communication from the officer in charge of R.H. and R.F.A. Records, Woolwich, dated the 22nd inst., informing her that “no further news having been received relative to 78728 Driver Thomas William James, D/83rd Brigade, R.F.A., who has been missing since 15/10/17, the Army Council have been regretfully constrained to conclude that he is dead, and that his death took place on the 15/10/1917 (or since).” When her son was reported “missing” last year Mrs. James endeavoured to get some further information, and although the replies she received contained bad news it was definite, and in face of what is known, as to the boy’s death the official vagueness on the point is difficult to understand. The Captain of the Brigade, in a letter to Mrs. James says:- “I must inform you that your son was wounded on the way back from the gun line after taking up ammunition on 15/10/17, and was taken to the dressing station. Some time afterwards we were informed that he had died of wounds, but otherwise received no further particulars. I should have written you myself, but we were having such a very busy time that I didn’t get an opportunity. I cannot understand how it is you were never informed by the hospital authorities of his death, but I am taking the matter up and making careful enquiries, and asking them to send you full particulars.” The letter concludes by speaking in words of praise of the lad and expressing sympathy with the mother. In April Driver F. Hilton, R.F.A., wrote a most sympathetic letter to Mrs. James giving her full particulars of what occurred. “Your son and I,” says the writer, “went up to our gun position together, and were with each other all the way back, but halfway from our ramp I had to stop to put my pack on firmer. As I stopped I saw a shell burst in the midst of the boys in front of me. When I got up to them the first man I saw was your son. He seemed rather dazed, or in a semi-conscious condition, so I called to the Corporal to assist me. I managed to put him on my horse and rode him to the dressing station. I could see it was just a matter of minutes, and when I got there the officer in charge told me he was dead. I left him in charge of the Red Cross. His resting place will be somewhere about Essex Farm, Ypres. The only words I heard him say were, “Tell them I am allright; God help me.’”
This memorial has mostly been compiled from official sources. It would be good to be able to expand it with more personal material - memories, stories, photos, etc. If you have any suitable material or any corrections please contact Greg. For news of updates follow @BridgnorthHeros on Twitter.