Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Remembering Thirlby Hack MM 1892-1986

It could all have ended for Thirlby Hack on 13th May 1915 and it was a day he remembered for the rest of his long life.

It was on the 13th May 1915, holding the line at Frezenberg near Ypres, that the Leicestershire Yeomanry as part of the 7th Cavalry Brigade in the 3rd Cavalry Division, felt the full force of the German artillery opposite. The bombardment commenced at 4am and was followed up by an unsuccessful advance at 7am which nevertheless forced the regiment to retire, both flanks being threatened. A counter-attack by the 10th Hussars in the afternoon saved the day but not without cost, the war diary reporting that during this "very trying day" the "enemy's guns fired on the position for 16 consecutive hours".

Thirlby Hack was wounded that day and when I interviewed him at his home in Sutton Bonington in 1985 he recalled his part in the action:

" I was shot in the left thigh.  I was corporal then and the sergeant was laying a little way in front of me.  He was shot through the knee and the wrist and he couldn’t move and I crawled up to him and he says, “Go on, don’t bother about me, you look after yourself.”  But I said, “I’m not going without you,” and I lay down beside him.  I says, “Get on my back, I’ll see if we can’t get you back somehow or the other.”  He did, he got on my back and I managed to crawl for some little while until I could move a bit better.  Then I stood up and I carried him nearly all the way.  Then we came across an infantry patrol and the officer in charge told off two men to take him from me.  We were near to a dressing station then and we both went to it.  From there we gradually got back down the line, got an ambulance through Ypres and eventually came back home to England."
The Quornian magazine reported the same incident in its September 1915 issue. Under the headline, "Our Yeomanry and the Second Battle of Ypres" it states,
" We must not conclude this article, however, without some notice of the two Quorn Grammar School heroes, Sergt W Moore and Cpl H T Hack, of whom we have hitherto made no mention.
Cpl Thirlby Hack was wounded in the left thigh, but the bullet fortunately damaged no bone, and by the merest fraction of an inch missed the femoral artery.  Near him, as he fell, lay Sergt Robert Perkins of Barrow-on-Soar, wounded in the knee and unable to rise.  But, in spite of his own wound, and of the repeated protests of Sergt Perkins, who begged Thirlby to leave him and look after himself, the brave lad got his comrade on his back, and attempted to carry him to shelter.  Time after time he was forced to put him down; but, though under a storm of high explosive shells, shrapnel and rifle fire, he took him up again, and by slow and painful stages he succeeded in reaching the cover of a ditch beside the railway embankment.  There the two remained till nightfall, when Hack again took up his burden, and after a slow and agonising journey he at last reached a field hospital about a mile I the rear of the advanced line.  Both reached England and their wounds are fortunately healed.  To the infinite credit of both these heroes, Sergt Perkins is no less loud in praise of his preserver than Thirlby is silent about a deed, which, in any ordinary war, would have undoubtedly earned him the Victoria Cross. 
“He that has light within his own clear breast
May sit I’ the centre and enjoy bright day.”
"and Thirlby is quite contented to have earned the gratitude of his companion, and to feel within him the happy consciousness of a trial bravely borne and a worthy end accomplished.  We, however, his old masters and schoolfellows, still hope that if these lines should come under the notice of anyone having interest in high military quarters, we may some day see on our hero’s breast some tangible mark of distinction to remind us of his devotion.  May he soon get it, and may he live long to wear it.”
He did receive an award, the Military Medal, and he did live long to wear it. He died in June 1986.  You can read the full article from the Quornian Magazine on a separate post I have created about the Leicestershire Yeomanry and  Frezenberg Ridge.

Today, one hundred years on from those momentous events at Frezenberg, I list below those men of the Leicestershire Yeomanry who were not so fortunate as Mr Hack and whose lives ended on the 13th May 1915.

2145 Private Charles Harold Adams
1644 Serjeant Harry Aspden
2511 Private George Harold Barker
1464 Serjeant John Albert Berry
1774 Private Percy Edgar Bowen
1904 Private Thomas Brooks
Lieutenant Thomas Edward Brooks
1874 Private Frank Purrant Brown
2559 Private Ernest Edwin Bucklar
1648 Corporal Frederick Burton
1643 Serjeant Lionel Sidney Burton
2062 Private Henry John Clapcott
1938 Private Percy Clifford
1995 Private George Clowes
2022 Private George Harry Conquest
1471 Private William Ernest Corah
1291 Corporal Robert George Cox
2323 Private Harry Wilfred Coy
1411 Private John Dalby
2658 Private Frederick Walter Daley
2560 Private Archibald Hugh De Ville
1760 Lance Corporal Bertie Diggle
Lieutenant Colonel The Hon. Percy Cecil Evans-Freke
1992 Lance Corporal John Robert Gamble
1754 Private Henry Archer Grudgings
2278 Private Harry Hanson
2591 Private Frank William Harris
1978 Private Gilbert Edwin Hawker
2368 Lance Corporal Arthur John Herrick
2589 Private Matthew Henry Hickling
2624 Private Leslie Hill
2120 Private Gurth Holland
2192 Lance Corporal Ernest Holmes
2108 Private Joseph Henry Hopkins
1827 Private John William Hoyes
2562 Private Ernest Edward Daniel Johnson
2146 Private Robert G. Johnson
1920 Private Percy Jones
1580 Serjeant Henry Percy Kealey
1589 Lance Corporal William Francis Kent
Major Bernard Robert Liebert
1843 Private John Jeeson Lucas
1822 Private Frederick Walter Mabbott
2016 Private Thomas Henry Maddock
1739 Private Frank Moir Martin
Major William Francis Martin
1765 Private Frank Herbert Matthews
1732 Private Leslie John Moir
1678 Private Daniel Moore
1845 Private William Moore
2601 Private George Morley
2509 Private John Joseph Morley
2317 Corporal George Morrison
1726 Private John Claud Morrison
1935 Private Cyril Wain Murphy
1660 Corporal John Cleaver Needham
2641 Private Frank Newton
3538 Regimental Serjeant Major George Charles Parker
1478 Lance Serjeant John Parker
Lieutenant Colin Peake
1939 Lance Corporal Arthur Thomas Powell
1844 Private Charles Edgar Pritchard
2661 Private Herbert Edward Ray
1927 Private John Roberts
1936 Private Maurice William Rowley
1983 Private Victor Walter Saunders
2106 Private Eustace William Leslie Shaw
1802 Lance Corporal Frank Sheffield
2646 Private Thomas Joseph Sherriff
1725 Private Frederick Arthur Simpkin
2131 Private Samuel Sleath
2160 Private Samuel Smalley
1967 Private Arthur Smith
1987 Private Francis Henry Smith
2027 Private William Smith
2203 Private George Harry Spence
2144 Private William John Steer
1261 Serjeant Clarence Stuchbury
2097 Private Charles Tatlow
1779 Lance Corporal Francis William Thompson
Lieutenant Samuel Pestell Donald Thomson
2708 Private Benjamin Stephen Tomlin
1863 Private Alfred James Tomlinson
1805 Lance Corporal Herbert Sydney Trotter
 Lieutenant Alan Fletcher Turner
2260 Private John Thomas Wagstaff
2337 Private Bert Ward
2129 Lance Corporal Herbert Joseph Ward
2343 Private Frank Branson Watts
2150 Private Ernest Weetman
2081 Private Frank Cuthbert White
1859 Private Horace Williams
1912 Private John Needham Williamson

At the going down of the sun, and in the morning, WE WILL REMEMBER THEM.

Need help with your own First World War research? I have been studying the First World War for the past 30-odd years and now offer a fast and cost effective research service.

No comments: