Private Thomas Brindley
7475 1st Bn., Leicestershire Regiment who died on 6 October 1916
Thomas, born in 1888, at Blaby, was the second of the seven children of Thomas and Elizabeth (nee Clark) Brindley. His father was born in Willenhall, Staffordshire where, like other members of his family, he was recorded as a key maker in the 1871 census. Thomas senior’s name appears to be missing from the 1881 census but in 1911 it is recorded that he was an army pensioner, so it may be that in 1881, he was abroad, serving in the army in the First Boer War or the Zulu Wars. Several other men from Oadby are also known to have served in the African wars including George and Samuel Weston. By 1891, Thomas senior, Elizabeth and their three eldest children were living in Paradise Row, Blaby and Thomas senior was working as a shoe riveter.
In 1901, the family were living at Gladstone Street, Wigston and Thomas junior, aged 13, was working as a market gardener’s boy. His mother and siblings were employed in the hosiery industry.
Between 1904 and 1907 Thomas served in the Leicestershire Regiment before returning to Wigston to begin work for the Midland Railway Company as a Lifter. In December 1912 Thomas joined the Amalgamated Society of Railway Servants which became the National Union of Railwaymen the following year. His profession is listed as Examiner. His marriage certificate describes this as a Plate Examiner, presumably a welding inspector.
Thomas was a member of the Amalgamated Society of Railway Servants later the National Union of Railwaymen.
On 27 September 1913 Thomas married Nellie Mellowes at St. Peter’s Church Oadby. Their witnesses were two of Nellie’s sisters Rebecca and Lizzie and her father James Mellowes. The Mellowes family lived at 1 Club Cottages, London Road (sometimes described as Main Street), Oadby. Thomas and Nellie’s son, Alfred Albert was born in 1914. Their second son, Thomas was born in August 1916. During their marriage Thomas and Nellie resided at the Mellowes family home.
On 16th September 1904 Thomas, then aged 16, joined the 1st Battalion Leicestershire Regiment. He was described as having an apparent age of 18 years, being 5ft. 5 ins. tall, weighing 8st. 3lbs. with a fresh complexion, light brown hair and blue eyes. He enlisted for three years with the colours and seven years as a reservist. On 8 December 1905 he was awarded a 3rd Class Certificate in education. Thomas transferred into the Army Reserve on 15 September 1907.
Private Thomas Brindley in pre-war dress uniform
At the outbreak of war Thomas, along with other Reservists was recalled to the British Expeditionary Force and was required to report to The Magazine on 4 August 1914. He left for France on 9 November 1914 and with several other Oadby men of the 1st Leicesters, he took part in the First Battle of Ypres and experienced the 1914 Christmas Truce at Armentieres. Thomas endured a dreadful winter in rudimentary trenches in near freezing. Many men were hospitalised suffering from frostbite.
On 12 March 1915 Thomas was returned to England for treatment at Charing Cross Hospital having been injured by a gunshot wound to the foot. He stayed there for a month before being transferred to another hospital for continued treatment and from there he was allowed to return to Oadby. We can probably assume that Thomas did not report back for duty on time, after his recuperation, as he forfeited seven day’s pay for absence without leave between 7 and 14 December 1915. Thomas did not return to France until 22 December 1915 and he re-joined his battalion on 9 January 1916.
The next entry in his army record is for 4 May 1916, when Thomas was reported to have a ‘sick knee’. It was thought he was fit to return to duty on 24 May. Being away from home at the time of the birth of his second son, also named Thomas, and life on the battlefield could have affected Thomas for in August 1916, he was censured for misconduct.
During the summer and autumn of 1916 the Leicestershire Regiment were involved in various actions on the Somme battlefield. Thomas was wounded in action at the Battle of Morval on 26 September 1916. He was admitted to a field hospital two days later but died of his wounds on 6 October. Thomas was posthumously awarded the 1914 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.
Private Thomas Brindley is Remembered with Honour at Grove Town Cemetery, Meaulte, France.
Other family members
On the death of her husband, his widow, Nellie, received no personal effects. She remained at her family home in Oadby and, in April 1917, was awarded a pension of 22shillings and 11pence per week for herself and her two sons.
Nellie Mellowes Brindley was the sister of Private William Oscar Mellowes who was killed in April 1915, serving with the Canadian Expeditionary Force at Ypres, France.
Thomas’ brother, William, also served in the army and was killed in action 3 August 1917. He is buried in Voormezeele Cemetery, Belgium.