Memorial: Bitton - St Mary's Church
Regiment: Army Service Corps
Rank and number: Private (Service no. M2/132541)
Parents: Charles and Ellen J Wakeley
Marital status: Married
Home address: Home Address: Fern Cottage, Church Lane, Bitton. Lived: Eynsham, Oxfordshire
Pre-war occupation: Motor Mechanic
Date of birth: 19/02/1882
Date of death: 25/09/1915
Buried/Commemorated at: North Maroc Intercommunal Cemetery (Ref. 9.), Pas de Calais, France
Thomas was born and brought up in Bitton (Fern Cottage), one of at least 10 children and his parents were still living at Fern Cottage in 1911.
He joined the Royal Navy in 1900 for a 12 year term as an ordinary seaman (service number 198692) He served on various ships and also had a role as a Diver. He is recorded on the 1901 and 1911 Census as being on active service. He left the Royal Navy in 1912 once his contract expired.
In the 2nd quarter of 1914, he married Jessie Day, who was born and brought up in Great Staughton. The marriage was under the registration district of St Neots, and probably took place in the village Church of St Andrew (not confirmed). Jessie’s parents were Joseph and Amelia Day, the 1921 Census shows they were still living in the village. On the 1901 and 1911 Census, Jessie was a house servant in nearby villages.
Thomas and Jessie lived in Eynsham, Oxfordshire and when war broke out Thomas re-enlisted in the Royal Navy and his occupation at the time was Motor Mechanic. He was attached to the Royal Naval Air Service (with a very early service number for that unit of 533). He served with a unit of RNAS Armoured Cars as a Petty Officer Mechanic and probably won the Distinguished Service Medal with that unit (not found a citation).
The Armoured car units were transferred from the RNAS to the army in August 1915, and as a mechanic, he would have been allocated to the Army Service Corps. He would have continued with the Armoured Car Unit and was probably killed on the first day of the Battle of Loos (although not traced any available war diaries to check this). His rank was Private, which may seem like a demotion from POM, but in the early days of the Armoured Cars the men attached to the units were individually picked and given higher ranks.
After the war, Jessie remarried in 1924 (Thomas Rae). They were married in Eynsham.
Thomas is commemorated on the Bitton War Memorial, the Upton Cheyney - United Reformed Church memorial and also the Eynsham War Memorial.
By kind permission, this information is based on the following source(s):
Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Findmypast (Soldiers Died during the Great War, 1901 & 1911 Census etc), Researcher John Davis.