Thomas James Mosley, paternal relative: The Pursuit to the Selle October 1918

Thomas James Mosley was born during April 1899 and died on 13 October 1918 at the tender age of 19.

Thomas James was related to me and was a nephew of the second wife of my paternal grandfather. The actual lineage is:

  • Thomas James Mosley (1899 - 1918) - nephew of wife of paternal grandfather
  • Mary Ann (Annie) Bassford (1873 - 1956) - mother of Thomas James (Mousley) Mosley
  • Alice Jane Brown (1851 - 1909) - mother of Mary Ann (Annie) Bassford
  • Florence May Bassford (1883 - ) - daughter of Alice Jane Brown
  • Ephraim William Hyde (1887 - 1964) - husband of Florence May Bassford - my paternal grandfather
  • Gilbert Wilfred Hyde (1916 - 2006) - son of Ephraim William Hyde - my father
  • William G Hyde - me

His Family

Thomas James Mosley's father was William Mosley (1871 - 1932) born in St. Alkmund, Derby, Derbyshire & died at his sons farm, Chapelsteads Farm, Wormill Derbyshire.

William Mosley married Mary Ann (Annie) Bassford (1873 - 1956) at St. Alkmund, Derby, Derbyshire on 5th August 1895. Mary Ann was from Oldbury, Worcestershire, England and it is likely that they met when William was in the Oldbury/Black Country area learning his trade of Iron Fitter.

The best definition for an Iron Fiiter: fitter, iron (building trade); erects steelwork of structure; fits various components, girders, columns, etc., on site; may also do work of blacksmith in altering component parts. Today would be called a "steel erector". Oldbury & the surrounding area in ther Black Country was often called the heavy engineering workshop of the world and there were many Iron Works and associated product companies in a rather small area.

William & Mary Ann had set up home at 29 William St, Kings Mead, Derby and set about raising a family of 7 children:

  • William Ernest Mosley (1896 – )
  • John Albert Mosley (1898 – )
  • Thomas James Mosley (1899 – 1918)
  • Elsie M Mosley (1900 – )
  • James Fredrick Mosley (1903 – )
  • Elizabeth Mosley (1909 – )
  • Newton Mosley (1911 – 1985)

Thomas James Mosley had by 1914 moved to Manchester where he was a Traffic Controller (on the railways). He lived at 25 Lindley St Newton Le Willows, Manchester and, as far as I can tell, was single.

His Regiment

Thomas James joined his local territorial Army Force in 1914 (when he was just 15).The North Lancashire Regiment made him a Private and gave him Regimental number 41558.

When he turned 18 in 1917 he was transferred into the 1/5th (T.F.) Battalion of the York and Lancaster Regiment and given Regimental number 46549.

The 1/5th Battalion was raised in Rotherham in August 1914.

Moved in November 1914 to Gainsborough (Lincolnshire), going on in February 1915 to York.

14 April 1915 they landed at Boulogne, France.

15 May 1915 theformation became 148th Brigade in 49th (West Riding) Division.

The 49th (West Riding) Division

49div memorial-thomas-james-mosleyThe West Riding Division was a formation of the Territorial Force. It was formed as a result of the reforms of the army carried out in 1908 under the Secretary of State for War, Richard Burdon Haldane and was one of 14 Divisions of the peacetime TF. 

1914: The units of the Division had just departed for annual summer camp when emergency orders recalled them to the home base. All units were mobilised for full time war service on 5 August 1914 and moved to concentrate in the South Yorkshire / Lincolnshire area by mid August 1914.

1915:  On 31 March the Division was warned that it would go on overseas service and entrainment began on 12 April. Divisional infantry went via Folkestone-Boulogne while all other units went from Southampton to Le Havre. By 19 April the Division had concentrated in the area of Estaires - Merville - Neuf Berquin. The Division then remained in France and Flanders and took part in the following engagements:

  • The Battle of Aubers Ridge (9 May)
  • The defence against the first Phosgene attack (19 December)

1916:

  • The Battle of Albert*
  • The Battle of Bazentin Ridge*
  • The Battle of Pozieres Ridge*
  • The Battle of Flers-Courcelette*

The battles marked * are phases of the Battles of the Somme 1916

1917

  • Operations on the Flanders Coast (Hush)
  • The Battle of Poelcapelle**

The battle marked ** is a phase of the Third Battles of the Ypres

1918

  • The Battle of Estaires^
  • The Battle of Messines^
  • The Battle of Bailleul^ in which the Division defended Neuve Eglise
  • The First Battle of Kemmel Ridge^
  • The Second Battle of Kemmel Ridge^
  • The Battle of the Scherpenberg^

The battles marked ^ are phases of the Battles of the Lys

  • The Pursuit to the Selle
  • The Battle of the Selle+
  • The Battle of Valenciennes+

The battles marked + are phases of the Final Advance in Picardy

The Division had been relieved and was resting at Douai on 11 November 1918. The demobilisation of the Division began in early 1919 and the service of the Division came to an end on 30 March when the final cadres left for England. The Division reformed as part of the Territorial Army in April 1920.

The memorial image (above)

The Pursuit to the Selle

This action took place in the last 100 days of the war, when the Allies were chasing the Germans out of France & Belgium back into Germany.

On day 63 saw the start of The Battle of Cambrai and as a result of that battle the Germans were on the run and it was decided to mount an operation to pursue them back to the River Selle.

The Pursuit to the Selle took place between the 9th to 12th of October 1918, with Canadian forces & the British 4th Division (of which the 49th (West Riding) Division was part). The Germans were not making things easy, they fell back to prepared positions and put up heavy resistance and made counterattacks which included tanks.

The Germans were seeking the safety of an improvised defensive line called the ‘Hermann Position’, which exploited the natural barrier presented by the course of the River Selle. The period 9 – 12 October saw British forces cautiously advance on the newly established German defence line.

On the 13th of October the French Army took the village of Laon and the 49th (West Riding) Division were fighting to take control of the village of Haspres, with much fighting in Haspres Coppice. The village of Haspres was taken after severe fighting, with the help of tanks, on 20 October 1918.

Thomas James Mosley was Killed in action on 13 October 1918 during "The Pursuit to the Selle" at Haspres Coppice - he was just 19 years of age.

Cemetery

tomas-james-mosleyPrivate Thomas James Mosley is buried atthe York Cemetery, Haspres where unfortunately, the Commonwealth War Graves Commision have him listed as Private Thomas James Mousley. The details given for his parents are correct, so I know its the right person with the wrongly ascribed name.

Haspres is a village about 15 kilometres north-east of Cambrai and about the same distance south-west of Valenciennes. York Cemetery is situated beside a track leading south-west from Haspres towards Naves.

York Cemetery was made at the end of October 1918 by the 1st/5th York and Lancaster Regiment and other units of the 49th (West Riding) Division.

The cemetery contains 137 Commonwealth burials of the First World War and ten German graves. All of the burials date from the period 13 - 26 October 1918, and 50 of the graves are of men of the 19th Lancashire Fusiliers, killed on 13 October. Of the remainder, 11 belonged to the 1st Rifle Brigade.