22544 C.S.M. T. WARNER. MM. M.G.C.
Thomas Warner was born in 1886 in Partick, Glasgow. His father was also Thomas, (b. 1857 in London), a musician. His mother was Jane Warner (maiden name not known), b. 1858 in Newhill, Renfrewshire. This information is from the 1891 Census and I haven’t managed to trace the family in any other Censuses. By 1911, however, Thomas jnr. was working as an asylum attendant at Whittingham Hospital. He was a parishioner of St Saviour’s and lived at 391 Station Road, Bamber Bridge.
At the outbreak of War, Thomas enlisted with the King’s (Liverpool Regiment) and was assigned service number 2641 and posted to 1/8 Battalion. 1/8th (Irish) Battalion was raised in August 1914 at Shaw St, Liverpool as part of Liverpool Brigade, West Lancashire Division. In February 1915 it transferred to North Lancashire Brigade and on 18 April 1915 it transferred to the Highland Division. Thomas landed with this Division at Boulogne on 3 May 1915. On 12 May 1915, new titles were adopted: 154th Brigade, 51st (Highland) Division. And finally on 17 January 1916 it transferred to 164th Brigade, 55th (West Lancashire) Division. 1/8KLR was one of a number of infantry battalions in 164 Brigade, and the Machine Gun Corps for that Brigade bore the Brigade number and at some point Thomas was transferred to 164MGC with a new service number, 22544.
In early May 1915, the Highland Division was hurried to the defence of Ypres. The enemy had attacked on 22 April 1915, using poison gas for the first time. All available reserves were deployed to stop the Germans taking advantage of the initial surprise. The Division remained in action until moved to the area of Estaires on the River Lys, on 19 May. The Division then remained in France and Flanders and took part in the following engagements: the Battle of Festubert (June 1915), where the Highlanders were still “practically untrained and very green in all field duties”, according to First Army commander, Sir Douglas Haig. Their next engagement was in the Second Action of Givenchy. Shortly after this unsuccessful action the Division moved south to the area north of the River Somme. They relieved a French Division near Hamel. At this time, as the Highland Division was now considered experienced, various New Army units were attached to it for instruction. Indeed, it had also begun to build a reputation as a hard, fighting formation.
In early 1916, the army reorganisation saw the Brigade transferred to the 55th (West Lancashire) Division. The Division began to concentrate in the Hallencourt area on 3 January and was completed by 27 January. The Division relieved the French 88th Division south of Arras – in the area Wailly-Bretencourt – by 16 February. Trench warfare commenced, with many raids and minor operations. On 17 April 1916, a large scale raid was undertaken by the 1/8th (Irish) Bn, the King’s (Liverpool), in which 2/Lt E. F. Baxter became the Division’s first winner of the Victoria Cross. In this relatively “quiet” period before the Division moved into the Battle of the Somme, it nonetheless suffered casualties of 63 officers and 1047 men killed, wounded or missing. Relieved by 11th (Northern) Division on 25 July 1916, the 55th now moved south and took up a place in the front line opposite the village of Guillemont.
Thomas Warner was obviously a very skilled and effective soldier as he was rapidly promoted from Private to Company Sergeant Major. The Brigade was involved in an attack on Guillemont on 8-9 August, during which Thomas Warner was killed. During this action, two sections of 164 Coy were attached to 1/4KLR and two to 1/8KLR. The account from the 164Coy War Diary:
Tom Warner was the ‘1 C.S.M. killed’. He was 30 years old.
Tom was awarded the Military Medal. The award was announced ton 11 November 1916 (London Gazette, p10932), when Tom’s rank is given as Sergeant. There is no citation but given the date it seems likely it was for bravery at this action at Guillemont that the award was made. The article top right appeared in the Preston Guardian in February 1917.
In CWGC, Tom’s parents are listed as ‘Mr & Mrs Warner, of London’, but UK Soldiers’ Effects list his sole legatee as Nurse Mary Gerrie. Mary was born in Fraserburgh, Aberdeenshire in 1885 and appears as a Nurse at Whittingham in the 1911 Census. She returned to Scotland after the War, never married, and died there in 1942.
Rank: Company Serjeant Major
Service No: 22544
Date of Death: 09/08/1916
Regiment/Service: Machine Gun Corps (Infantry), 164th Coy.
Awards: M M
Panel Reference: Pier and Face 5 C and 12 C.
Memorial: THIEPVAL MEMORIAL