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Second Lieutenant Thomas Litchfield

43246 'B' Company 7th Battalion Northamptonshire Regiment

Son of Mr Thomas & Mrs Florence Litchfield

memorial gravestone at Rushden
Memorial courtesy of
Mark Hollis, 2014
Aged 22 years

Died 31st July 1917

Commemorated on Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial
Panel 43 and 45
And in Rushden Cemetery
Grave E.1608

Born at Rushden.
The Rushden Echo Friday 10 December 1915, transcribed by Nicky Bates

Minister Enlists

Mr Thomas Litchfield a former teacher at the Newton-road schools, Rushden, and subsequently a Congregational pastor, has joined the Officers Training Corps.

The Rushden Echo Friday 25 May 1917, transcribed by Nicky Bates

COMMISSION - Mr Thomas Litchfield, junr (son of Mr and Mrs T Litchfield) of 96, Newton-road, Rushden), formerly a teacher at Alfred-street Schools, Rushden, and who at the time of his enlistment was studying for the Congregational ministry, has been gazetted Second Lieutenant and attached to a battalion of the Northants Regiment. He has been home on leave recently, and expects to be sent to one of the fighting fronts.

The Rushden Echo Friday 10 August 1917, transcribed by Nicky Bates

Rushden Officer's Death - Second-Lieut Litchfield - A promising Ministerial Career Cut Short - A Former Day School Teacher

We are deeply sorry to report the death in action on July 31st, of Second-Lieut Thomas Litchfield, of 96 Newton-road, Rushden. A wire conveying the sad news was received from the War Office on Tuesday morning and much sympathy is felt with the family in their sad bereavement.

The late Lieut Litchfield, who was formerly a teacher at Alfred-street schools, was well known throughout the town and district as a day school teacher and as a lay preacher, and for some time, whilst the Congregational Church at Rushden were without a minister, he frequently conducted services.

Subsequently he left the teaching profession to take charge as a layman of a church at Bottesdale, Suffolk, and after discharging those duties for about twelve months, he entered New College, Hampstead, with a view of entering the ministry. He had been at college just over twelve months when he felt it to be his duty to join the Colours, so he enlisted as a private in his Country regiment, specialising in signalling. Promotion came rapidly, as he was made N.C.O. but two weeks after joining, and on his obtaining a first-class certificate in telephoning and signalling was appointed instructor in that branch of military duties.

About the beginning of this year he entered an O.T.C. at Newmarket with a view to obtaining his commission, and in his examination he came out sixth out of over 100 candidates. He was gazetted Second-Lieutenant to the Service Battalion of the Northants Regiment in May, and proceeded to France on June 20th.

Since being in France, Lieut Litchfield conducted many services for the Young Mens' Christian Association. Like his father, the deceased officer was well known as a footballer and cricketer.

The Wellingborough News Friday 10 August 1917, transcribed by Nicky Bates

Rushden Officer Killed

We deeply regret to record the death of a gallant young Rushden soldier, Second-Lieut Thomas Litchfield, son of Mr Litchfield, of Newton-road, Rushden. Lieut Litchfield was formerly a school teacher at Alfred-street School, which he left to study for the ministry. He was in the town on his last leave two or three weeks ago, and this (Tuesday) morning his parents received the tragic news by wire from the War Office. The deepest possible sympathy will be felt for the parents. The deceased officer had high scholarly attainments, and would doubtless have gone far if the fortune of war had not cut him off in youth and strength.

Rushden Echo, 31 August 1917, transcribed by John Collins

Memorial Service at Rushden - The Late Second Lieutenant T Litchfield – A promising Career Cut Short

Following the evening service at the Rushden Congregational Church on Sunday, a special service was conducted in memory of the late Second Lieutenant Thomas Litchfield, a former Council school teacher at Rushden, who afterwards left the teaching profession in order to enter the Congregational ministry, and who had shown great promise as pastor of Botesdale Congregational Church, Suffolk. The deceased was a native of Rushden, being the son of Mr and Mrs T. Litchfield, of Newton-road, Rushden. A floral wreath, presented by Mrs. West, was placed in front of the pulpit.

At the ordinary evening service, the Rev. F. F. Walker (pastor) preached an impressive sermon on “Rest in action”. Two solos, “How lovely are Thy dwellings” and “Sun of my Soul” were most expressively sung by Madame Irene Lyne, of Raunds, one of Northamptonshire’s finest contralto vocalists. Mr Cecil Sargent, who officiated at the organ, played in sympathetic style, the air “O rest in the Lord” (Mendelsshon).

The In Memoriam service, which was largely attended, was impressively conducted by the Rev. F. F. Walker who read appropriate passages of Scripture and  gave an address, in the course of which he alluded to the genuine respect in which the late Mr Litchfield was held, and spoke of his genial personality. As a preacher, he showed conspicuous promise, and his work as a pastor in Suffolk had been most successful. A Christian gentleman, Mr Litchfield devoted his life to the service of his fellow men. When he felt it to be his duty to join the Colours, he sacrificed his position as a minister. His dealing with the men at the Front proved that this was work for which he was well fitted. The men at the Front were glad to come to him to ask for his advice, and to hear what he had to say. In conclusion, Mr. Walker urged all, especially his relatives, to face their loss in the spirit of his sacrifice, and, whilst they could not help being sad, there was something sublime in that he had gone in the belief that he was simply doing his duty and could do nothing else: there was something that called not only for tears of sorrow, but also tears of pride and gratitude: there was something which should inspire them all with love.

A favourite hymn of the deceased officer, “O Love, that will not let me go”, was sung with deep feeling, and, after prayer, the congregation rose as a token of respect, the organist, after a pause, playing the “Dead March in Saul”.

The Rushden Echo Friday 2 August 1918, transcribed by Nicky Bates

In Memoriam

LITCHFIELD - In ever-loving memory of Sec-Lieut T Litchfield, who was killed in action at Zillebrucke, July 31st 1917.

"He went to war in the cause of peace, and died without hate that love might live."

From Father, Mother and Lily.

The Rushden Echo Friday 18 April 1919, transcribed by Nicky Bates

THE LATE LIEUT LITCHFIELD - Mr and Mrs T Litchfield, of Newton-road, Rushden, have this week received word from the Governors of New College, Hampstead, London, that they are erecting a memorial window panel in honour of the late second Lieut Thos. Litchfield, who fell in the war. It is to be placed in a prominent position in the College, in which Mr and Mrs T Litchfield's promising son was a student for the ministry. The principal of the College is the eminent Dr A R Garvie.

Rushden Echo, 17th October 1919, transcribed by Kay Collins

Memorial to Rushden Officer - The Late Lieut Thomas Litchfield

A stained-glass memorial window in the new Congregational College, Hampstead, to commemorate the late Second-Lieutenant Thomas Litchfield, 7th Northants, of Rushden, and two other student of the College who fell in the war, was unveiled on Tuesday. The window, about 10 feet by 6 feet, is in the central hall of the college, and has three oblong tablet inserts, each bearing an inscription in memory of the three fallen students. That of Lieut Litchfield reads: “Thomas Litchfield, aged 23, killed July 21st 1917.”

The late Sec-Lieut Litchfield, son of Mr and Mrs T Litchfield, of Newton-road, Rushden, was a teacher at the Alfred-street Council schools, and eventually entered the College was a student for the ministry, after having had charge of a congregation at Botesdale, Suffolk. On the outbreak of war he gave up his college course and enlisted in the 3rd Northants. He was trained in signalling at the Hythe School, and from there went to Newmarket to and O.T.C. to train for a commission. Always a keen sportsman, Mr Litchfield captained the hockey club, besides taking part in other sports. He gained his commission in May 1917, and was then sent to France. Besides studying the comforts and requirements of his men, Lieut Litchfield gained great popularity at a French village by forming a troop of Boy Scouts amongst the French boys, on the lines of the Rushden Troop, of which he had been a member. Lieut Litchfield conducted divine services practically every Sunday during the time he was in France, and on the last time he came to Rushden on leave he took part in a service at the High-street Independent Wesleyan Church. He transferred to Col Mobbs’s Battalion (7th Northants) and was with that unit near Ypres when, in July 1917, he was killed.

The memorial service was conducted by the Principal, Dr A E Garvie. Several hundreds of students attended, including a large number from Regent’s Park and Hackney Congregational Colleges, with the tutors and professors; and the relatives of the deceased students. Mr and Mrs T Litchfield (father and mother), Miss Alice Litchfield (aunt), and Miss Lily Wooding (fiancée of the late Lieut Litchfield) were present. A memorial address was given by Dr Forsyth, Principal of Hackney College.

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