Biddulph & District Genealogy & Historical Society Biddulph Grange

Biddulph and the Great War

'There Shall Be In That Rich Earth A Richer Dust Concealed'

'We Will Remember Them'

Private Thomas Snee

38789 North Staffordshire Regiment died October 1st 1918 Age 22

Thomas was born in 1896 and baptised on September 27th 1896 at Goldenhill. His parents were Michael Snee who had been born in Boyle, in Ireland, and Mary Ann née Raftery. There is a strong Irish ancestry as Mary Ann’s father was also from Ireland.

In 1901 the family were living at Stadmoreslow Lane in Newchapel. As head of the family Michael was aged 28 and employed as a puddler ironworker at the forge. His mother, Mary Ann, was also 28 and her birthplace was given as Goldenhill in Staffordshire. In this census Thomas was aged 4 and had two younger brothers; Edward aged two and William aged one year.

By 1911 Thomas, at 15 years of age, was working as a colliery horse driver. The family were now residing at Lane Ends, near Newchapel. His younger siblings, Edward and William, were still at school.

In 1916 Thomas served in the 4th battalion (Extra Reserve) North Staffordshire Regiment, a battalion based at Marske near Redcar, then moving to Saltburn in 1917. They initially attached to the 56th London Division and crossed to Le Havre in October 1917. In France the 4th North Staffords transferred to the 106th Brigade, 35th Division.

The battalion saw their first action in the bitter fighting during a barrage of gas shells to retake the Houlthulst Forest near the Poelcapelle road, when the Staffords fought in the last weeks of the horrors of the Third Battle of Ypres. The forest was a German fortress first taken by the enemy in 1914. By October the conditions where unbelievable with shell holes filled with slimy mud.

At the start of the German Spring Offensive in March 1918, the 35th Division were in the Bapaume region until forced to withdraw to the old Ypres salient. Then in August the tables turned pushing the enemy back during the Final Advance in Flanders. It was whilst fighting here on October 1st 1918 that Private Thomas Snee sadly fell in the field. He was 22 years old. He now rests in the Zantvoorde British Cemetery. “Soldiers Died” tells of many brave soldiers in the battalion who died in the final weeks of the war.

Thomas is remembered on the Brindley Ford Memorial.

Kathleen Walton and Michael Turnock.

A list of all the medals awarded to the men of the Biddulph area has been compiled and can be viewed here.


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