Thomas Henry Archer

Rank Lance Sergeant 
Service No 530800
Date of Death 07/10/1916
Age 32 
Regiment London Regiment (Prince of Wales' Own Civil Service Rifles) 1st/15th Battalion
Memorial Thiepval Memorial, France. This memorial to the missing of the Somme bears the names of more than 72,000 officers and men of the United Kingdom and South African forces who died in the Somme sector before 20th March 1918 and have no known grace. Over 90% of those commemorated died between July and November 1916.

 

Thomas was born in Newcastle on 23rd December 1883 to marine engineer, James Brown Archer, and his wife, Emily. At the time of the 1891 Census, the family resided in Westoe, Northumberland and the 7 year old Thomas had 4 siblings, Amy (9), Alfred (5), Lilian (3) and Mabel (1).  He joined the South Shields High School for Boys (now South Shields Grammar-Technical School for Boys) in February, 1896, as a Corporation Scholar, and left at the end of 1898 to join the Civil Service.

Thomas later moved to London where, in 1909, he married Ethel Mary Walters (aged 28) at St Paul’s Church, Haringey. In the marriage registers, Thomas’s address is listed as 10 Duckett Road, Haringey and Ethel’s as 66 Duckett Road and his occupation is ‘clerk’. His father is ‘deceased’.

At the time of the 1911 Census, Thomas and Ethel lived at 91 Upper Tollington Park, Finsbury Park, and he was employed as a Second Division Clerk Civil Service for the General Post Office.

Thomas joined the Prince of Wales' Own Civil Service Rifles. He was mentioned in Private Mervyn Roach's unpublished diary in his entry for 22 May 1915:

"In the early afternoon a shell came as near to us ... Quite a lot of us were in the farm house having drinks when there was suddenly a frightful clatter and a cloud of dust & soot and as soon as we could look around we found a coal box had pitched not more than five yards from the window. All the glass was smashed … No damage was done to our party, but two men of No 7 Platoon were hit, Harris & Archer neither very serious but quite enough to mean “Angleterre” for both."

Thomas was killed in action ‘on or since’ 7th October 1916, probably in the Battle of the Transloy Ridges, south of Bapaume. This was the last offensive of the Fourth Army of the British Expeditionary Force in the Battle of the Somme.

Probate was not granted until 8th September 1917 as it took some time before it was presumed Thomas had died. His estate was valued at £850 and his younger brother, Alfred, a naval writer, was his executor. At time of Thomas’ death, Ethel, his wife, was living at 22 Rosemary Avenue, Finchley, where she resided until at least 1929 and his widowed mother, Emily, was living at 127, Victoria Road, New Barnet, Hertfordshire.