Old Whittington War Memorial people places trades Sydall Swanwick
Thomas was born on 6th September 1890 and his parents were George Thomas and Annie Mason and as the baptism record below shows, they lived at Mouncastle Street.
He was baptised on 22 September 1890 at Newbold cum Dunston as George Thomas Mason.
(I do not know by which name he was known, but as the inscription on the war Memorial lists him as Thomas I will use that name throughout).
By the time of the 1891 census, 5th April, the family were living at 48 Cavendish Square Sheepbridge.
George senior, was a Furnace labourer and had been born in Northamptonshire.
Thomas started at Websters endowed Infants School (later Whittington Moor Infants) school on 6th March 1894, at this time the family were living at 22 Chapel Street on Whittington Moor. The family appear to move about often. He left the school on 9th November 1896 and the reason given for leaving was ‘gone to Sheepbridge Square’.
Sadly, George senior died sometime during 1897 and his widow Annie remarried on 26th December 1898 to Thomas Keeling Birch at Newbold. At the time of the marriage Annie was still living at Sheepbridge Square.
By 9th January 1900 Thomas was back at school as Websters Endowed and he was living at this time at Foundry Street Whittington Moor. According to the school record below, his previous school had been Edmund Street Board School Newbold. Thomas certainly had moved about in his short life.
By 1901 Annie and her new husband were living at 180 Foundry Street and Thomas is entered as ‘nephew’. This could be an error by the enumerator.
The next information I could find was the 1911 census and Thomas is now recorded as step-son of the Head of the household, Thomas Birch. The family live at 66 Foundry Street and Thomas Mason is 20 years old and working as a Potters labourer. There was a pottery on Whittington Moor – Pearson & Co. This could have been where Thomas worked, however this is just a possibility there is no recorded evidence.
As you can see from the census Thomas’s younger brother, John Willie, at 14 years of age is already working as a colliery labourer, below ground!
Thomas enlisted in the 2nd Battalion Notts and Derbyshire Regiment. Unfortunately there is no record of the date he enlisted, as with many WW1 records they would appear to have been destroyed in 1940. However, we do know that he arrived in France on 18th May 1915.
Cap Badge of the Sherwood Foresters
Thomas would have been involved in many of the Battles of WW1. The 2nd battalion of the Sherwood Foresters transferred to the 71st Brigade in October 1915 and their battle history includes –
1916 – The Battle of Flers-Courcelette, The Battle of Morval, The Battle of Le Transloy.
Thomas was killed in action on 15th June 1917. In the war diary from that date there is mention of a lot of aerial darts being sent over from the German Lines, and there were many casualties. I had not heard of these aerial darts (flechettes) but you can read more about them here
Flechettes would appear to have been used by all sides at different times during the First World War.
Thomas is buried at Philosophe British Cemetery Mazingarbe. More information on the cemetery can be found here
The grave registration for Thomas shows that his mother Annie Birch was still living at 66 Foundry Street in 1917.
and the headstone information shows the Inscription that Mrs Birch chose for her sons Headstone. (Number 790)
‘Gone but not forgotten’
(Picture taken from http://www.the-sherwood-foresters.co.uk/m_names/mason_george_thomas.html)
Thomas was awarded the Victory and British War Medals and the 14/15 Star.
He is remembered on the Old Whittington and The Brushes War memorials and on the Sherwood Foresters Roll of Honour. This can be seen at
Thomas’s mother Annie continued to live at 66 Foundry Street and on the 1939 pre war registration is shown as a widow with her daughter Leah living with her.