Thomas Barrow was born in Openshaw, Manchester in 1890, the son of John (a police officer) and Christina Barrow, who lived at 62, Carmen Street, Ardwick, Manchester. He had four siblings.
His mother was a native of Tabley, Knutsford and when his father retired as a Sergeant, having served for 26 years; the family moved back to Tabley and lived in a tithed house at Tabley brook, Over Tabley. His father had also served in the Indian army and his grand-father was killed at the Battle of Waterloo. So his father joined the Knutsford Volunteers, rising to the rank of Platoon sergeant.
It appears that Tom left home following numerous disagreement with his father who he thought to be overbearing.
Eventually he found employment at The Cavendish Hotel on the Grand Parade in Eastbourne as a billiard marker.
Early in 1916 he enlisted at Eastbourne recruiting office in the 13th battalion of the Royal Sussex regiment, becoming Private no G/3283. (His number tells us he was a general service recruit, not being given the prefix SD indicating a local man from South Downs.
The war diary states:
Day spent in collecting materials, and general organisation for the attack. In the afternoon, our artillery bombarded the enemy trenches from 2pm to 5pm, cutting his wire and destroying his works. [Extract from Operation Order Number 23. Intention. The Battalion will assault and capture the enemy trenches as follows: Enemy front-line from Boars Head to S.10.c.8.1. Enemy support line from S.16.a.5Â½. 6Â½ to S.16.a.9.9. The 12th battalion will assault on our left. The dividing line between battalions will be the ditch running from our front line parapet at S.10.c.5.3 to the enemy front-line parapet at S.10.c.8.0. Method of attack. Main attack from our front line between cinder track and the ditch near Vine Street. Flank attack from our own Fishtail Sap against the Boars Head. Main attack will be delivered in four lines, each line consisting of 4 Platoons. Flank attack will be delivered by five bombing parties, each party consisting of one NCO and six men. Lewis guns: these will assemble in the old disused trench about 35 yards in front of trench between Bond Street and Vine Street. Carrying party. Carrying party will assemble in the Strand. As soon as the assaulting lines have advanced over the front parapet these parties will move to the company stores situated in our present front line. Their work will be to transfer SAA , bombs, rations and water from the stores to the companys stores in a new front line. Silence must be insisted on.
30 June: Report on Operations.
- The Battalion assembled at 1:30pm on the morning of 30 June in readiness for the assault with all 4 Platoons of each Company in the front line.
- The preliminary bombardment on the morning of the attack opened at 2:50am and at 3.05am the leading wave of the battalion scaled the parapet, the remainder following at 50 yards interval. At the same time the flank attack under Lieutenants Whitley and Ellis gained a footing in the enemy trench. The passage across no mans land was accomplished with few casualties except in the left companies, which came under very heavy machine-gun fire. The two right companies succeeded in reaching the objective but the two left companies only succeeded in penetrating the enemys wire in one or two places. Just at this moment a smoke cloud, which was originally designed to mask our advance, drifted right across the front and made it impossible to see more than a few yards ahead. This resulted in all direction being lost and the attack devolving into small bodies of men not knowing which way to go. Some groups succeeded in entering the support line, engaging the enemy with bombs and bayonets and organising the initial stages of a defence. Other parties swung off to the right and entered the trench where the flanking party was operating, causing a great deal of congestion. On the left the smoke and darkness made the job of penetrating the enemy wire so difficult that few if any succeeded in reaching the enemy trench. Some parties of the right company succeeded in reaching the enemy support line when they were subjected to an intense bombardment with HE and whizzbangs. Captain Hughes, who was wounded, seeing that his company was in danger of being cut off, gave the order for the evacuation of the enemy trenches and the remainder of the attacking force returned to our trenches. The enemy who was evidently thoroughly prepared now concentrated his energies on the front line and for the space of about two and a half hours our front and support lines were subjected to an intense bombardment with a bit heavy and light shells causing a large... [The diary disappears here and does not start again until after the attack].
Tom was killed in action on the 30th June 1916.
This attack is not mentioned in the official history of the war, no doubt it was over-shadowed by the greater event that took place the following day (1st July1916)
The battle of the 30th June lasted just over 5 hours leaving 17 officers and 349 other ranks dead or missing and over 1000 wounded or taken prisoner. This day became known locally as 'the day that Sussex died'.
Tom left the sum of £166.8s.6d to his mother in his will.
Researched and compiled by Tony Davies