40468, 18th Battalion, West Yorkshire Regiment who died on 7 July 19

Family History

Thomas was the son of Thomas and Martha (nee Hidgers) Forryan. He was born in Oadby and baptised at St. Peter’s Church on 14 September 1879. The family lived at Main Road, Oadby for the first years of Thomas’s life and his father (born in Wigston Magna) was a farmer. Main Road was the name given to the road which passed through the centre of the villages, now called The Parade, Leicester Road and London Road. Thomas had four brothers and three sisters.

By 1901 the family had moved to Holbrook Road, Knighton and both Thomas and his brother John were working as coachmen. It is possible that the brothers were employed by Mrs Emma Belville at nearby Stoughton Grange. In 1901 she purchased Papillon Hall in Lubenham, Market Harborough for her son Frank Ashton Bellville. The 1911 census lists Thomas as one of nine grooms working at Papillon Hall so he may have transferred there with other Stoughton Grange employees. At this time the rest of Thomas’ family were living at Sydney Road, Knighton.

Papillon Hall, Lubenham where Thomas was employed before the war.

Papillon Hall, the main house on an ancient estate was remodelled by Sir Edwin Luytens who also designed the war memorial and gates in Victoria Park, Leicester as well as the Cenotaph in White Hall. The design followed an Arts and Crafts butterfly plan possibly to reflect the name of the estate. Unfortunately only the derelict stables now stand.

Mr Frank Belville kept extensive stables for both polo ponies and hunters and would have required a large staff. His brother Captain George Belville, also a proficient horseman, served with the 16th Lancers. Like many landowners at the outbreak of war, the Belvilles would have had their equine livestock commandeered for the war effort. Likewise many of their staff, with experience of handling horses, would have enlisted and continued their professions in service of their country.

Plan of Papillon Hall showing the extensive stables, gardens and servants’ wing.

Military Service

Thomas Forryan’s service record no longer survives but we know that he had originally enlisted in the Leicestershire Regiment. Given his experience with horses it would seem natural that he should have enlisted in the Leicester Yeomanry but no evidence has yet been found to support this.

At some point he was transferred to the Prince of Wales’s Own, 18th Battalion, West Yorkshire Regiment (2nd Bradford Pals).  This battalion had served in Egypt but was transferred to France in March 1916. On the first day of the Battle of the Somme, 1 July 1916, the 1st and 2nd Bradford Pals lost 1,770 men attacking the heavily fortified town of Serre. It is possible that Thomas transferred to 18th West Yorkshires as a replacement draft shortly after the Battle of the Somme. Unfortunately we can only guess at Thomas’ movements, as without service or medical records it is impossible to tell his full story.

Nonetheless, we know that Private Thomas Forryan died of wounds in a hospital in the UK on 7 July 1917. The epitaph on his headstone reads ‘Peace after Pain’.

Memorials

Private Thomas Forryan is Buried with Honour at Oadby Cemetery. Thomas is one of the soldiers with links to Oadby whose name does not appear on the town war memorial. His family chose to have him honoured on the tablet in St Mary Magdalene’s Church, Knighton as they were living in the parish at the time of Thomas’ death.

However this tablet does carry the names of some other Oadby men similarly honoured on the Oadby village memorial. The majority of these men were young officers whose families lived in the large new homes being built at Oadby Top on the edge of Stoneygate and Knighton. Their worshipping allegiance was clearly still linked to St Mary’s.