Countdown to armistice (9) - Corporal Thomas Fred Eccleston M.M.

Thomas was born in Cheslyn Hay and, prior to enlisting in April 1915, was a member of Walsall Borough Police. He had been a member of the police force for 14 months after leaving his profession as a miner. He was a married man residing with his wife at either 90 or 99, New Street, Bloxwich.

In June 1916 Thomas was awarded the Military Medal and Thomas himself wrote of the deed that led up to it:

“Well, the night I got it we had a bit of bad luck in our battery. We had a shell come through the mouth of one of our pits and 6 were killed, and one severely wounded, but he died after he had been in hospital about four hours, and it set the pit all on fire, and I put the fire out and helped to get them out. I won’t tell you everything I did, it’s impossible to remember, and you don’t think what you are doing when you have a chap shouting “For God’s sake come and help us”. It’s a sight I shall never forget as long as I live”.

Thomas was to succumb to influenza and pneumonia at Lille shortly after the Armistice. He was 26 years of age and is buried in Lille Southern Cemetery in Grave I.B.21. He is also being commemorated on the Walsall and Bloxwich Rolls of Honour.

With thanks to retired WMP officer Graeme Clarke for the research and locating the picture