Thomas Samuel Williamson, maternal relative: Fifth Battle of Ypres, Oct 1918

Thomas was born on 18 February 1884 in Cooper Road, Guildford, Surrey, England and died from his wounds on 6 November 1918 (5 days before the end of WW1). He died in Flanders and his passing is commemorated at the St. Andre Communial Cemetery, in the Department of the Nord adjoining the north side of the city of Lille.

Thomas was related to me as the 1st cousin of the wife of an uncle of the wife of a 1st cousin twice removed and the lineage is as follows:

  • Tom Samuel Williamson (1884 - 1918) - 1st cousin of wife of uncle of wife of 1st cousin 2x removed
  • Thomas Williamson (1863 - 1923) - father of Tom Samuel Williamson
  • Samuel Williamson (1817 - 1866) - father of Thomas Williamson
  • Edward Williamson (1840 - 1919) - son of Samuel Williamson
  • Emma Rose Williamson (1883 - 1961) - daughter of Edward Williamson
  • James Bierton (1879 - 1949) - husband of Emma Rose Williamson
  • Ellen Owen (1855 - 1928) - mother of James Bierton
  • Albert Bierton (1867 - unknown death at present) - son of Ellen Owen
  • Laura Bierton (1888 - unknown death at present) - daughter of Albert Bierton
  • Ernest William Sheward (1885 - 1918) - husband of Laura Bierton
  • William Sheward (1859 - 1906) - father of Ernest William Sheward
  • Richard Sheward (1817 - 1870) - father of William Sheward
  • Herbert Sheward (1843 - 1906) - son of Richard Sheward - my maternal great grandfather
  • Mary Louisa Sheward (1880 - 1967) - daughter of Herbert Sheward - my maternal grandmother
  • Alice May Priday (1917 - 2009) - daughter of Mary Louisa Sheward - my mother
  • William G Hyde - me

His Family

Thomas Samuel Williamson's father was Thomas Williamson, born 16 July 1863 St Ives, Huntingdonshire, England and died 5 November 1923 at 4 Whitehall Mansions, Islington, Middlesex, England. Thomas Samuel Williamson's mother was Emily Stovold, born 13 July 1859 in Batehetlea, Farnham, Surrey, England and died 12 February 1894 in Ballards Lane, Finchley, London, England.

Thomas Samuel Williamson was one of 10 children. His father was an Engineers Fitter.

Thomas Samuel Williamson was a Gas Fitter working for the local Gas, Light & Coke Company. He married Elizabeth Kerenhappuch Woodhead (1886 – 1952) on 19 December 1909 at All Saints Church, Battle Bridge, King's Cross, Islington, London and they moved into 12 Danbury Street, Islington, London where they set about raising 5 children:

  • Ethel May Williamson (1910–1910)
  • Mable Williamson (1911–2002)
  • Thomas Edward Leslie Williamson (1912–1945) - died in WW2
  • William Richard Williamson (1914–2000)
  • Edith Nellie Williamson (1916–1976)

His widow, Elizabeth Kerenhappuch Woodhead, had 3 other children after Thomas Samuel passed on:

  • Sergeant ( Flt. Engr. ) Richard Oliver Williamson (1924–1943) died in WW2
  • John Walter (Bob) Williamson (1925–2008)
  • Joan Alice Williamson (1927–1995)

Military

Thomas Samuel enlisted in the British Army in 1913 and joined the Territorial Gloucestershire Regiment where he was given Number 1451.

When war broke out in August 1914 he was transferred to the 13th London Regiment of Territorials and retained the Number 1451. (I suspect that the Gloucester Regt Territorial Force effectively changed its name, hence why he kept his service number).

The London Regiment - Battalions of the Territorial Force: The London Regiment was unusual. Not only were all of its battalions of the Territorial Force (although the first four were affiliated to the other City of London Regiment, the all-regular Royal Fusiliers) but each battalion was regarded as a Corps in its own right.

Thomas Samuel was later transferred again into the 33rd (City of London) Battalion (probably because depletion of ranks due to battles in WW1) and he changed his service number to 860020.

33rd (City of London) Battalion was formed in Clacton-on-Sea in early June 1918. On 18 June 1918, the Battelion moved to Pirbright, absorbed the cadre of the 7th Battelion, the Rifle Brigade and joined the 41st Brigade in 14th (Light) Division (as replacements). On 3 July 1918 they landed at Boulogne, France.

41st Brigade in 14th (Light) Division took part in the The Battle of St Quentin & The Battle of the Avre during 1918 - both were phases of the First Battles of the Somme (before they were supplemented by the men of the 33rd (City of London) Battalion).

In the above two actions the Division suffered very severe casualties, losing almost 6,000 troops. XLVI and XLVII Brigades RFA lost all their guns. The Division was withdrawn from the line and placed on the construction of a new defensive line in the rear. On 26 April, the infantry battalions were reduced to a training cadre. Various units were temporarily attached before the Division was moved to England for re-establishment on 17 June 1918. The refreshed Division, although still short on numbers, moved back to France and joined Second Army 2-6 July 1918.

The replensished 41st Brigade in 14th (Light) Division then took part in Fifth Battle of Ypres (September 28 - October 2, 1918) and the final advance in Flanders.

Fifth Battle of Ypres

The Fifth Battle of Ypres, also known as the Advance of Flanders and the Battle of the Peaks of Flanders is an informal name used to identify a series of battles in northern France and southern Belgium.

The Allies attacked at 5:30 a.m. on 28 September, with 12 Belgian divisions, 10 British divisions of the Second Army (inc. 41st Brigade in 14th (Light) Division) and 6 French divisions of the Sixth Army under the command of King Albert I of Belgium with the French General Degoutte as Chief of Staff.

The British attacked without preliminary bombardment on a 4.5-mile front up to the Ypres–Zonnebeke road, from where the Belgian army attacked on a line north to Dixmude.

The Allied attacks quickly penetrated the German defences and advanced up to 6 miles. The German defence was conducted by fewer than five divisions which were swiftly driven back. Much of the ground west of Passchendaele which had been abandoned during the withdrawal of early 1918 was recaptured.

Rain began to fall but by the evening the British had taken Kortewilde, Zandvoorde, Kruiseecke and Becelaere; Belgian troops had captured Zonnebeke, Poelcappelle, Schaap Baillie and Houthoulst Forest.

On the southern flank, minor operations by three British divisions advanced to St.Yves, Messines and the ridge from Wytschaete to Hollebeke. Messines, Terhand and Dadizeele fell on 29 September and by 30 September, despite the captured ground becoming another quagmire, all of the high ground around Ypres had been occupied by the Allies.

By 1 October the left bank of the Lys had been captured up to Comines and the Belgians were beyond a line from Morslede to Staden and Dixmude.

The advance continued until 2 October, when German reinforcements arrived and the offensive outran its supplies. Due to the state of the ground, 15,000 rations were delivered by parachute, from 80 Belgian and British aircraft.

During this battle, the British lost 4,695 casualties, the Belgians had 4,500 "net" casualties from among 2,000 killed and 10,000 ill and wounded. The Allies advanced up to 18 miles, with an average advance of 6 miles and captured around 10,000 German soldiers, 300 guns and 600 machine-guns.

Thomas Samuel Williamson died on 6 November 1918 from wounds sustained during the Fifth Battle of Ypres, just 5 days short of the end of World War One.

thomas samuel williamson cemeteryCemetery

Thomas Samuel Williamson is commemorated at the St. Andre Communial Cemetery. St. Andre is a commune in the Department of the Nord adjoining the north side of the city of Lille.

The Communal Cemetery was used by German hospitals during the greater part of the World War One and by No.11 Casualty Clearing Station after the British occupation of Lille.

There are now over 150, 1914-18 and over 20, 1939-45 war casualties commemorated in this site. The cemetery covers an area of 478 square metres.