Robert Thoresby Thomson

Rank Second Lieutenant
Service No Unknown
Date of Death 08/06/1917
Age 27
Regiment/Service Middlesex Regiment 7th Battalion attached to the Lincolnshire Regiment 4th Battalion
Memorial Arras Memorial, northern France. The memorial commemorates almost 35,000 servicemen from the United Kingdom, South African, New Zealand who died in the Arras sector between the Spring of 1916 and and 7th August 1918 and have no known grave. 

 

Robert was born on 27th December 1889 in Highbury, Islington, and baptised at Park Presbyterian Church on 13th April 1890. His father, Robert Tickell (1855-1934), and his mother, Florence Elizabeth Thomson (1851-1903), had four other children, Frederick (b.1883), Thomas (b.1886), Mary (b.1888) and Florence (b.1892).

At the time of the 1891 Census, the family were living at 5, Baalbec Road, Highbury. Robert’s father was employed as secretary to an insurance company. At the time of the 1901 Census, the family were living at 11, Baalbec Road, Highbury. Robert’s father was still employed as secretary to an insurance company. At some stage thereafter, the family moved to Finchley and Robert was educated at Christ’s College, Finchley. At the time of the 1911 census, Robert was working as an insurance clerk and residing at Sunflower, The Line Owen, St Neots, Cambridgeshire. Robert’s brother, Frederick, was married at Ballards Lane Presbyterian Church on 1st May 1912. His address was listed as Westholme, Cavendish Avenue, Finchley, probably the family home.

Robert enlisted and became a 2nd Lieutenant on 14th October 1915. On 28th May 1917, his battalion was at Bouvigny Boyelles, 15 kms west of Lens, France, and ordered to prepare for an attack. Zero hour was 8.30pm on 8th June. The story of the attack is thus recorded in the Battalion Diary:

"The afternoon was spent in moving up to cellars … 'Sausages' enlived the waiting period, as they crashed on and around the ruins which sheltered us … the enemy seems to have known our … intentions. The intensity of the barrage … was an experience no one … is likely to forget … At 8.30pm the … signal to advance was given … B Company … were a joy to behold as they went over in line. D Company, by this time reduced by half its numbers, and B Company, already caught by the enemy's guns, scaled the further slopes of the Cutting … and advanced to their objectives… When the first wave of D and B Companies reached the front German trench his barrage was already on it, and a temporary check occurred until the reinforcing waves came up … Hand-to-hand fighting ensued … the odds became overwhelming … It was during this stage … that B Company lost 2nd Lieutenant R. T. Thomson and 2nd Lieutenant H.C. Chase, both of them died gloriously, the former as the result of a second wound and the latter from a shell-burst.”

Upon his death in June 1917, Robert left his estate of £172 12s 9d to Miss Constance Ethel Malings (1889-1956), to whom his connection is unknown. Ethel is listed as living at 283 Ballards Lane, near Granville Road, Finchley in the electoral registers of 1936, 1938 and 1939.