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Private Thomas Lee

7653 2nd Battalion York and Lancaster Regiment

Son of Mr Frederick and Mrs Joanna (Annie) Lee
Husband of Emma E Lee (nee Green)

Aged 30 years

Died 20th April 1916

Commemorated on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial
Panel 36 & 55

Born at Irthlingborough, enlisted at Rushden.

From the Burnt Records, Peter Inns & Kay Collins

Shoe maker Thomas Lee was born at Irthlingborough and had two brothers and 4 sisters. He enlisted and was certified fit at Northampton on 24th February 1904, and requested joining the Yorks & Lancs Regiment and travelled to Pontefract the same day. His medical examination states he was 18 years and 4 months old, 5" 5¾" tall, weighed 119 pounds, chest 32½" (2" expansion), and had brown eyes and hair, 3 scars on his forehead, a mole on his left breast, and was Church of England faith. On completion of six month training and gymnastics he was again examined and now weighed 137 pounds, and had grown one inch and his chest was now 33¼" (3¼" expansion). He was awarded a Good Conduct Badge on 23rd February 1906 and after he completed his three years service he was discharged to the 2nd Northamptonshire Regiment Reserve and went to training camps at Sywell on 17th September 1908, 15th August 1910 and 18th June 1912.

On 5th August 1912 he married Emma Elizabeth Green at St Peter's Church in Rushden and they lived at 35 Pemberton Street. A daughter Nora Kathleen was born on 31st May 1915 at Wellingborough.

At the start of WWI he was called up and sent to France on 20th September 1914. Thomas was hospitalised on 20th November 1915 with a gun shot wound to his left foot and was sentenced on 29th November to 90 days detention in the field prison for "carlessly wounding himself". He was also hospitalised on 5th December 1915 for attention to "self inflicted wounds". Thomas Lee was killed in action on 20th April 1916.

His wife and child were awarded a pension of 15 shillings a week, and they moved to 6 Thrift Cottages. Emma signed a receipt for a Clasp to the 1914 Star awarded to her husband.

The Rushden Echo Friday 6 November 1914, transcribed by Nicky Bates

"Having a Rough Time" - Rushden Man at the Front

"We have had a rough time lately," writes Private Tom Lee (Rushden), who is with the Expeditionary Force at the Front, "but don't take too much notice of all that the papers say about the war!" Private Lee was one of the first draft to be in action, and so far has escaped injury.

The Rushden Echo Friday 5 February 1915, transcribed by Nicky Bates

Germans Killed by the Thousand - Trenches Full of the Dead - Bodies Piled Up in Heaps - Thousands of Shells Fired - Rushden Fighting Family

Two brothers and a brother-in-law, all Rushden soldiers, are at the front. Although they have been out there for several months, they have fortunately escaped injury. Gunner L Green, writing home, says: "I am writing this in an old barn just beside the guns. It is not like the little bed in the little room at home where Chris and I kick each other! I was in a better place than this last year. When I received your parcel, I was a few miles from here, and my God, it was a hot place! Talk about noise, you could not hear yourself speak for guns going off. If there was one shell fired there were thousands fired that day, and from what I heard there were thousands of Germans killed. One of our airman said they were piled up in heaps and the trenches were full.

"We have been in a few places since we have been out here. Landing on one side of France, we had a four days' train ride to the firing line. We have been to Belgium and back again. Must close as the light is getting low."

Private Tom Lee, brother-in-law of the gunner, has sent the following letter home: "We are out of the trenches for four days, but by the time you get this, we shall be back again. We are having all sorts of weather, with plenty of water and mud. We are now hoping to scrape a little mud of our boots so that we can tell who we are. But we shall be all right soon as we are getting some little huts to keep us dry and comfortable. It will be better for everyone when this is all over. I have received the 'Rushden Echo' from the 'Echo' office. I shall soon have to send for some more new teeth as mine are wearing out through chewing these biscuits! I am eating all day, thereabouts, because it takes all day to chew one, but we get a bit of bread now and again."

The third soldier, Private A Green, brother of the gunner, is also fighting somewhere at the front, and the last time he wrote home said he was all right.

The Rushden Echo Friday 2 April 1915, transcribed by Nicky Bates

Rushden Soldier Wounded - Bullet Wound in the Hand - Brothers at the Front

Note: article about Archie Green which says:

Pte T Lee, brother-in-law of the above two soldiers, writes to his wife under date March 21st: "You say Arch has got wounded. He is better off than we are, that is, if it not too bad, so you need not worry about that. I am all right. I keep going in the trenches and coming out, so as long as I keep doing that I shall be all right. Keep a god heart, the same as I do, and we shall see one another in time to come. When I came away I did not think I should be away as long as this, but what is to be, will be. The sooner it is over the better. The weather has changed again. When we were in the trenches this time it snowed and it was colder than it was at Christmas, but spring has come in now and it has come in lovely. They will not let us send parcels home, I was lucky to get the Princess Mary gift home. But roll on when they send me. That will be a good parcel for you I think, and there will be a day when this is over. Just remember me to Fred Bass. I wish I was with him, as France is not place for me."

Mr and Mrs Green have another son, Walter Green, who joined His Majesty's Navy a fortnight ago.

The Rushden Echo Friday 26 May 1916, transcribed by Nicky Bates

Rushden Soldier Killed - Pte Thomas Lee - Formerly of Irthlingborough - Official News

Mrs Lee, of 37 Pemberton-street, Rushden has received official confirmation from the War Office that her husband, Pte Thomas Lee, — Yorks and Lancaster Regiment, was killed in action on April 20th, 1916, as already reported in the "Rushden Echo." The official news was accompanied by the usual letter from Lord Kitchener, expressing the sympathy of the King and Queen.

The deceased soldier was 30 years of age and leaves a widow and one child. His parents reside in Queen-street, Irthlingboro', but for about two years Pte Lee has been living in Pemberton-street, Rushden. Mr and Mrs F Lee, of Queen-street, Irthlingborough, received the following letter respecting the death of their son: "Dear Mrs Lee, - Just a line to tell you that you son Tom was killed about 10.30 on Thursday, 20th April, 1916, in an attack. I was not with him at the time, for I am not in the same company, but one of my chums that was by his side told me all about it. He was first hit in the hand, and was going to a shellhole when he got hit again in the head, and died in a few minutes. Another regiment buried him, and I will write and let you know later the place where he is buried. I miss him very much myself, for we had always been very good chums, but I do hope you will cheer up and bear it the best you can. I had only been off leave three days when it happened, and if I live to come home I will come and see you and tell you all better than I can by letter. He was a very good and brave soldier, and I can sure he will be missed in the company. - Yours sincerely, Pte H Watts, Yorks and Lancs, B.E.F."

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