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Private Thomas Willis

13137 6th Battalion Northamptonshire Regiment

Private Tom WillisSon of Mr Thomas & Mrs Elizabeth Willis

Aged 19 years

Died 17th February 1917

Commemorated on Thiepval Memorial, Somme, France
Pier & Face 11A & 11D.

Born at Rushden.

Brother of Frederick Willis.

The Rushden Echo Friday 14 July 1916, transcribed by Nicky Bates

First Wounded Soldier In the Big Advance - Rushden Man's Unpleasant Experience

Mr and Mrs T Willis, of 157 Cromwell-road, Rushden, have received news that their son, Pte Tom Willis, 13137, Northants Regt., has been wounded in the big push and is now in a military hospital in Liverpool. In a letter home the wounded soldier says his wound is not serious - a bullet in the left leg. He also says that he was the first to be "toppled over" in the advance of the British on the morning of July 1st. He was expecting to be home before very long. Pte Willis enlisted in September, 1914, and is now 18 years of age. He formerly worked for Messrs. Sanders and Sanders, shoe manufacturers, Rushden. He has been in France 12 months and has not been home since going out.

The Rushden Echo Friday 16 March 1917, transcribed by Nicky Bates

Rushden Victim of the War - Private Tom Willis - Killed in action - Found Dead on the Battlefield

We regret to report that Mr and Mrs T Willis, of 157 Cromwell-road, Rushden, have received unofficial news that their youngest son, Pte Tom Willis, of the Northants Regt., was killed in action on February 17th.

The sad news is sent by one of the deceased soldier's comrades, Pte H F Freeman, who writes under date March 5th:-

"It is with deep regret that I have to write you these few lines in the sad loss of your son, Tom, but I feel it my duty to let you know. He was killed in the great successful battle which he took part in with me on the morning of February 17th. We did not know he was killed until this week, and I was thunderstruck when I heard the sad news, as he was along with me in the morning, and he got wounded in the chest and leg, not very badly at all, but he must have got killed while he was on his way to the dressing station. The sad news came through to headquarters that they found him dead on the battlefield, and they have got his pay-book. All the boys of my section and the platoon are so sorry for you, as he was always very cheerful, and we shall miss him very much. He was in the same section as I, and he always used to divide his parcels amongst my section. The parcels which were sent to him have been divided up amongst his platoon, and we hope it meets with approval, as we always share amongst one another. Accept my deepest sympathy, and I hope God will give you the strength to bear your burden."

The late Pte Willis was killed just two days before his birthday, when he would have been 19 years of age. He joined on September 3rd, 1914, immediately after outbreak of was, when he was only 16 years of age, and went to France twelve months ago last July. On July 1st of the following year he was wounded in the left leg. He was sent home, and returned to France about three months later, and received no further injury until he met his death as stated above.

Prior to enlistment he was employed by Messrs. Sanders and Sanders, boot manufacturer, Rushden.

Mr and Mrs Willis would be grateful to any of his comrades who can send them any further information concerning their son.

The Rushden Echo Friday 20 April 1917, transcribed by Nicky Bates

Rushden Soldier Killed

The late Private Thomas Willis, Northants Regt., (son of Mr and Mrs Thomas Willis, of 157 Cromwell-road, Rushden), whose death was unofficially reported in the "Rushden Echo" of March 16th. Mr and Mrs Willis have now received the official news of their son's death.

The Rushden Echo Friday 20 February 1920, transcribed by Nicky Bates

In Memoriam

WILLIS - In ever loving memory of Private Thomas Willis, 6th battalion, Northants Regiment, the beloved son of Mr

and Mrs Thomas Willis of Rushden, who was killed in action Feb., 17, 1917, aged 18 years.

Days of sadness still come o'er us,
Tears of silence often flow;
Memory keeps our dear one near us,
Though he died three years a go.
Do not ask us if we miss him;
There is such a vacant space;
Can we e'er forget his footsteps
And that sweet familiar face?

From his loving Mother, Father, Brother and Sisters.

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