Private Thomas Roland Warner
201102 1/4th Bn. Leicestershire Regiment who died on 28 February 1917
Thomas Roland Warner was one of ten children born to Thomas Warner, a barman from Kettering and his wife Rosetta (nee Agar). He was born in 1893 and was baptised at St Peter’s Church, Belgrave on 7 October 1895. In 1911 he was working as a wool dryer (dyer) and the family were living at 53 Beatrice Rd., Leicester. In 1915 Thomas was employed as a hosiery hand at Messrs T Browne, Leicester and he lived at 16 Archdeacon Lane.
On 25 March 1915 Roland enlisted in the 3/4th (Reserve) Bn. Leicestershire Regiment. He was twenty two and a half years old and taller than average at 5ft 10 ½ins.
Private Roland Warner’s Attestation marked with his year of death
The 3/4th was a reserve battalion of the Leicester Territorials and Roland would have undergone his basic training on home soil after enlisting.
On 15 October 1915 the 1/4th Battalion of the Leicestershire Regiment suffered very heavy casualties at the Battle of Hohenzollern Redoubt. Thereafter the battalion was gradually being rebuilt with new drafts from the 3/4th Leicesters. On Boxing Day 1915 Roland was transferred to 1/4th Leicesters and left for France on 2 January 1916.
Troops out of the front line preparing sandbags
The battalion spent Spring 1916 out of the front line undertaking musketry training and making preparations for the ‘big push’ planned for the summer. During the Battle of the Somme the 1/4th Leicesters were in divisional reserve but were still subjected to ‘a lot of shelling and trench mortaring. An occasional raid. And every now and then a gas attack’ (John Milne). The Battle of the Somme ended on 18 November 1916 and the end of November saw sports competitions for the 46th Divisional Cup, including a 2 ¾ mile run which was won by 4th Leicesters. Unfortunately the football final was lost to 5th North Staffordshires by 3 goals to 1.
St Peter’s Parish Church, Oadby.
During late 1916 Roland received a furlough and returned to Leicester to marry Frances Ada Ward, a jersey cutter. Frances Ada was the daughter of Charles Ward, a gardener and his wife Ada, a shoe machinist. Roland and Frances married at St Peter’s Parish Church, Oadby on 21 December 1916. It appears that Frances must have fallen pregnant immediately before Roland left for France as their three month old daughter Rosie Jane was baptised at St Peter’s on Christmas Eve. It was a short honeymoon and Roland returned to France on 11 January 1917.
On 27 February the 1/4th Leicesters took up positions for an assault on the village of Gommecourt. The early battle objectives were taken but the battalion war diary describes how ‘During the afternoon the mist lifted and the enemy opened a heavy fire on the whole of Gommecourt and the new CT inflicting several casualties’. The town was successfully taken by dusk but among the dead was Private Roland Warner.
Private Roland Warner is Buried with Honour at Foncquevillers Military Cemetery, France.
Private Roland Warner’s grave
Foncquevillers Military Cemetery, France.
Roland’s death was noted in the Council minutes. (Oadby and Wigston Advertiser 17 March 1917).
Roland’s widow Frances Ada Warner married Victor Green in 1921. She died in 1941 aged 50 years. Among the effects received by his widow were a pipe, a watch, a pack of cards and a red book in a pouch.