200005 SGT. T. J. ENTWISTLE. MM. L.N.LAN.R.
I am grateful to Paul McCormick for the information about Tom's Military Medal and when and where he was wounded.
Thomas Joseph Entwistle was born in 1890 in Lonsdale, Providence, Rhode Island, USA. His father was Robert James Entwistle (b. 1862 in Higher Walton), a cotton weaver. His mother was Margaret Jane Fencoat (b. 1866 in Preston). Robert and Margaret were married in 1887 and they had three children: Mary was born in Higher Walton in 1888, then Thomas and their sister Annie (b. 1892) were born in the United States. By 1901, however, the family were back in Walton Le Dale and in 1911 they were living at 22 Collins Road in Bamber Bridge. Tom was a mule spinner.
Tom enlisted when War broke out in the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment. He was assigned service number 222 and posted to 1/4 Battalion. 1/4th Battalion was formed in August 1914 in Preston as part of North Lancashire Brigade in West Lancashire Division. They moved on 22 August 1914 to Swindon and on to Sevenoaks in November. In April 1915 the Brigade transferred to Highland Division and they landed in Boulogne on 4 May 1915 (Tom’s MIC confirms this date). On 12 May 1915 the formation became the 154th Brigade in 51st (Highland) Division and on 7 January 1916 the Bn transferred to 164th Brigade in 55th (West Lancashire) Division. At some stage Tom was assigned a new service number, 200005, and was promoted to Sergeant.
On 28 June 1916 he was part of a Divisional raiding party on trenches at Blairville. He was awarded the Military Medal for his part in this raid. From the Divisional History:
On 28 June 1916 a raiding party of 3 officers and 56 other ranks left our lines at the junction of Gambler Street and the Fire Trench at 1735, the raid was preceded by the discharge of gas and artillery fire.
The party was working in conjunction with raiding parties from all battalions in the division. They advanced in two rushes to within a few yards of the enemy trenches, where they came under fire and were held up. At 1750 they established communication with our lines and reported that they could get no further and were suffering heavy casualties. A Sgt returning, reported that the enemy were in force and further progress was impossible. Major Crump ordered them to retire which they did in good order in spite of losses which included the whole of the leaders. The wind seemed to be uncertain and blew back the smoke curtain diagonally across the front so as to disclose our party, which was on the right flank of the division to the enemy.
The enemy wire had been well cut and presented no obstacle but the enemy were seen in force on the trenches to the north of Blairville Wood, some of them wearing respirators. The gas however did not reach the wood, but near our lines a number of enemy dead were observed, who had obviously been killed by our gas.
Corporal Thompson did admirable work in maintaining telephonic communication between the advance portions and the Headquarters of the Brigade raiding parties in our own front line. Private Clarke and Corporal Thompson remained in a shell hole not far from the enemy wire until after nightfall and saw them come out of their trenches and carry some of our men who were either dead or wounded across the bridge into their trenches.
All the parties came under machine gun and rifle fire, but they inflicted a large number of casualties before returning. There were no trench-boards in the enemy line where our men entered them and the trenches had obviously suffered from our artillery fire.
Sergeant Entwistle, who brought back reports on the progress of the raid, returned to assist in carrying out the retirement, whilst Private Ward and another collected five wounded in a shell hole and brought them in one at a time under heavy machine gun and shell fire.
The casualties suffered in the LNL raiding party were ten killed, including Capt E M Gregson and 2/Lieut A Martin with 18 wounded including 2/Lieut A S Walker.
On 30 July 1916 a Church Parade was held at which Brigadier General GTC Edwards presented Sjts Entwistle and Lancaster with Military Medal Ribbons won by them in the raid at Blairville.
Still on the Somme, the Division then fought at Guillemont (4-6 September) and Ginchy (9 September) where the Battalion history lists him as being wounded.
Battalion History: At 16:45hrs on the 9th September 1916 the 1/4th Battalion was part of an attack launched by XIV Corps 164th Bde (including B and C Companies of 1/4th LNL) were to attack and take a line of trenches that ran between Ginchy and Delville Wood. The plan was “to go over the top” and take Hop Alley and then Ale Alley. Hop Alley was taken but Ale Alley wasn`t reached due to the intensity of the enemy machine-gun fire. The attackers fell back to their original line.
The casualties were heavy; 24 men killed including Second Lieutenants W. E. Pyke and E.F. Falby. There were also 125 men wounded, and a further 79 men missing, many were also later identified as having being killed.
A Company lost its Commander, Captain Harris, soon after passing the Black Line—he was shot by a sniper ; C.S.M. Dudley was later on wounded and taken prisoner ; No. 1 Platoon had its Commander (Sergeant Entwistle) and the Lewis Gun Corporal wounded when leaving CONGREVE WALK. It came under machine gun fire just before reaching the BLACK LINE, and by the time it reached KANSAS CROSS only eleven were left.
After a short period of rest at Ribemont from 12 to 17 September they returned to fight at Flers-Courcelette (17-22 September) and Morval (25-28 September). In October 1916 they were ordered to move to the Ypres salient where they remained for a year.
In 1917, they suffered severe losses in the opening phase of the Third Battle of Ypres, at Pilkem Ridge (31 July – 2 August). The Division lost no fewer than 168 officers and 3384 men, killed, wounded or missing. They were then withdrawn for re-fit and training and returned to the front line to fight at Menin Road Ridge (20-23 September). They had suffered many losses throughout the year, but worse was to come when they faced the enemy counter-attack at Cambrai on 30 November. The Division crumbled in the face of the German onslaught and its reputation fell sharply in the eyes of higher command. They were withdrawn and sent to Bomy near Fruges for intensive training.
The Division was able to recover its reputation in 1918 when it was charged with the defence of Givenchy during the second phase of the German Spring Offensive, Operation Georgette or the Battle of the Lys, 9-15 April. The Defence of Givenchy was the single most famous action that the Division fought. “It was afterwards publicly stated by an officer of the German General Staff that the stand made by the Division on 9 April and the days which followed marked the final ruination of the supreme German effort of 1918”, says the Divisional history.
The Division also fought in the final advance in Artois (2 October – 11 November), including the occupation of La Bassée (2 October), crossing the Haute Deule Canal (14-16 October), and the capture of Ath (11 November). The Division had advanced 50 miles in 80 days. After the armistice, the Division was initially ordered to join the forces which would march into Germany, but this order was cancelled and the Division was put to work repairing roads and railways near Leuze. Demobilisation began in January 1919 and was completed by April.
Tom’s MIC says he was disembodied (ie demobilised) but gives no date. Tom’s Military Medal was announced in the London Gazette on 23 August 1916. Tom died on 16 April 1919, from toxaemia (blood poisoning) associated with lobar pneumonia. I believe this was associated with the flu epidemic. His death certificate records that he was employed as a grinder and glazer in an iron foundry and that he was a former sergeant in the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment. He was 29 years old. Because he was no longer in uniform when he died, and his death was not the result of war service, he is not recorded by CWGC.
Service Number: 200005
Award: Military Medal
Date of Death: 16/04/1919
Regiment/Service: Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 1/4Bn
Cemetery: Brownedge St Mary’s Roman Catholic Church, Bamber Bridge.