Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Uncovering the story of Joseph Thomas of Chorlton born 1894, died 1917 on the Western Front

It began with this postcard and as so often happens it set me off on a journey which led from a small house in Chorlton to the grand offices of an accountancy firm opposite the Town Hall and ended on the Western Front.

The postcard comes from the collection of David Harrop and was one of a number I have been looking at.*

What caught my attention was that it was sent to Henry Thomas who lived at number 6 Fairhaven Avenue and was sent in the March of 1916.

Cooper Street, circa 1900
Now Mr Thomas was a chimney sweep and had grown up around the corner in Brownhills Buildings on Sandy Lane.

These pre date 1832 and were once the property of Mr Brownhill who had been the wheelwright for the township.

That in itself was a fascinating link with our past but the postcard and its message drew me even deeper into the history of Chorlton.

It was from Joseph Thomas who was Henry's brother thanking him for the letter and Postal Order which “I was glad to receive [as] I was getting rather hard up” and announced that he was coming “home as usual on Saturday 2.15 at Victoria,” adding “send a pc if you are meeting me.”

17th Platoon, E Company 2nd City Battalion, 17th Manchester's 1914-16
Joseph had been born in 1894 and in 1914 was working for Richard Haworth & Co Ltd who had offices at 19 Cooper Street.

The building has long gone but it faced the Town Hall close to where the Cenotaph now stands.

Sadly his army records no longer exist but I know he enlisted in the 17th Manchester’s at the outbreak of the war and was stationed at Heaton Park before leaving for France in the November of 1915.

In time I will track his movements and the battles he fought in.

And we as these things go only hours after posting the story Stephen O'Neill replied identifying Joseph as the young man on "the top row far left" which is a powerful note to close on.

Sadly Joseph was killed on August 1 1917.

Picture, postcard dated, March 22 1916, and E Company 17th Service Battalion, the 2nd City Battalion, Manchester Regiment, from Manchester City Battalions Book of Honour,  from the collection of David Harrop, detail of 19 Cooper Street, 1900 from Goads Insurance Map, courtesy of Digital Archives Association, http://www.digitalarchives.co.uk/

*David Harrop, http://chorltonhistory.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/David%20Harrop

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