Thomas Pendleton was born in 1892 in Sheffield, he was the only one of the eight living siblings not to have been born in Whittington. His parents were Percy Josiah Pendleton who was born in Sheffield, and Kezia Springthorpe, (hence one of Thomas’s Christian names) who was born in Leicestershire. It was quite usual for one of the sons to take the mothers maiden name as a Christian name.
He was baptised at Old Whittington church on 21st November 1894, at the same time as his elder sister Lilian and younger brother Herbert. The address given was 99 Sheffield Road Whittington.
By the time of the 1901 census the family are living at 105 Sheffield Road Whittington, and Percy’s job is given as an engineer at the Iron Works.
Lilian, Thomas’s elder sister isn’t listed with the rest of the family on the night the census was taken, 31st March 1901, but she is listed as living a few doors away at 98-100 Sheffield Road, where her maternal grandparents, William and Mary Ann Springthorpe, kept a Grocers/Beer Off.
By 1911 Thomas was 19 years old and was working as a Steam Hammer Driver. A description of the job Thomas did:
A Steam Hammer Driver :Operated a large steam-operated hammer to forge iron and steel. Invented in Manchester in 1837 by George Naismith
(Description taken from rmhh.co.uk/occup/s.html)
The family now live at 586 Sheffield Road Sheepbridge. Thomas’s older sister Lilian, living back at home, is also working, she is a schoolteacher for the county council.
Thomas worked, like his father, at Sheepbridge Coal and Iron works, which wouldn’t be far from where they were living.
(Picture courtesy of Elizabeth Pemberton)
Sheffield Road can be seen going under the railway line in the top middle of the picture.
Thomas volunteered in October 1914. He joined the 12th Battalion Notts and Derbyshire Regiment, his Service number was 18821. He is listed on the roll of honour in the Derbyshire Courier 21st November 1914, for “ The men of Old Whittington and Sheepbridge” who volunteered to fight. Sadly, some of the men who volunteered alongside him are also on the Whittington War Memorials. Thomas would have been amongst the first men to go away to war from Whittington.
The 12th Battalion formed part of 17th Brigade which until October 1915 were part of 6th Division. As such Thomas would have landed in France around September 1915. The 12th Battalion was changed to a Pioneer Battalion in April 1915, as far as I can see from Thomas’s Medal Roll he never changed battalions, and I can only assume he was a Pioneer and wore the badge of the Pioneers. This was a crossed rifle and pick similar to:
Collar Badge of the Pioneer Corps.
The Pioneers were first created in 1914, most if not all regiments had at least one Pioneer Battalion. They became the work horses of the Regiments overseas. The Pioneers wired, dug, laid roads and built bridges, they worked in all weathers and in all terrains. When needed, they abandoned their tools and fought alongside the Infantry. They were intended to provide the Royal Engineers with skilled labour.
In October 1915 the 12th Sherwood Battalion became part of 24th Division. 24th Division took part in the Battle of Loos, The Battle went on from 25th September until 8th October 1915 with 50,000 casualties and the loss of 16,000 lives. Thomas may have taken part in the tail end of the Battle. It was the British army’s largest effort so far in the war with 75,000 men involved just on the first day, it was referred to as ‘the big push’.
Thomas would have seen action at the Battle of the Somme, 1 July- 18 Nov 1916. The 24th Division took part in the Battle of Delville Wood, 15 July – 3 September 1916 and the Battle of Guillemont, 3-6 September 1916.
This excerpt taken from https://www.historylearningsite.co.uk gives a small insight into what Thomas would have been faced with at Delville Wood.
‘The fighting that took place within Delville Wood was fierce in the extreme. By the time the fighting finished not one tree in Delville Wood was left untouched and the immediate landscape was littered with just the stumps of what had been trees. It was not surprising that soldiers who fought there referred to it as ‘Devil’s Wood’ as opposed to Delville Wood’.
Thomas Pendleton was killed in action on 10th August 1917, he was 24 years old. The exact location is unknown and Thomas’s body, like many of his fellow soldiers, was never found. He is remembered on the Menin Gate Memorial in Ypres.
More information on the Menin Gate can be found on the Commonwealth war Graves Commission website.
Thomas was awarded the British War and Victory Medals, as he arrived in France before 31st December 1915 I would assume he also was awarded the 1914/15 Star medal. Although this is not recorded on his medal card.
A report in the Derbyshire Times of 15th September 1917 reads as follows:
“The death in action on August 10th is announced of Private Thomas Pendleton (24), eldest son of Mr and Mrs Percy Pendleton, Woodland View, Sheepbridge. A letter from a comrade was the first intimation, and the news had been confirmed by another chum home on leave, who states that Pte. Pendleton and three other soldiers were killed by a shell. Enlisting in the Sherwood Foresters in October 1914, Private Pendleton had been in France for 22 months, and his first leave was due a few days after he was killed. In civilian life he was employed at Sheepbridge Works”.