Depot, Royal Berkshire Regiment.
Right side of drive
Thomas Perkins is buried in a registered war grave. Grave number 16079. His wife Lucy and one son, Archibald, who gained a Military Medal and survived the war, are also buried in this grave. The name of Thomas Perkins is commemorated on the grave kerb stones, on these are also written the names of the two other sons, Walter and Thomas Albert, who were killed in the Great War. An account of Thomas Perkins funeral was published on 13 March 1915 in the Reading Standard. The account indicates that the family was a large one comprising seven sons and seven daughters. Three sons are reported as serving in the Royal Veterinary Corps, one in the Kings Royal Rifle Corps, and one in the Naval Brigade. Both Walter and Thomas Albert served with the Royal Berkshire Regiments.
The grave is located under trees in Division 49 and for some time was lost being overgrown by ivy. In 1988 the CWGC erected a small memorial in the War Plot which lists the names of other men buried in registered war graves but without a war pattern headstone, whose graves had been lost.
The death of Thomas Perkins was announced in the Reading Standard 6 March 1915.
Colour Sergeant Thomas Perkins – March 6th 1915, who joined Lord Kitchener’s Army for the period of the war died on Tuesday from bronchitis. The deceased aged 62 was a native of Jersey, and was for about 30 years in the Royal Berkshire Regiment. He was a pensioner, and offered his services at the outbreak of war, being attached to No2 Company. Colour Sergeant Perkins has three sons in his Majesty’s forces, two of whom are at the present time at the front. The funeral took place Friday 5th March.
1st Battalion Royal Berkshire Regiment.
He was killed in action on 17 May 1915 during the Battle of Festubert aged 30. Walter Perkins was a regular soldier and he had served in India. The graved details state that he was the eldest son of Thomas Perkins. From “Soldiers Died in the Great War” we learn that his full name was Walter Charles and he was born Chatham, enlisted London lived in St. Helier’s, Channel Isles.
Walter Perkins has no known grave and is commemorated on the La Touret Memorial, Pas de Calais, Panel 30. The memorial lists the names of over 13,000 men who fell in the area before 25 September 1915 and who have no known grave.
Thomas Alfred Perkins M.C.
Company Sergeant Major 6589
5th Battalion Royal Berkshire Regiment.
Thomas Alfred Perkins M.C., Perkins was a regular soldier and had served in the 2nd Battalion, Royal Berkshire Regiment. He was the second son of Thomas Perkins and was probably known as Alfred and in some documents is referred to as Alfred Thomas.
CSM Perkins was awarded the M.C. and this was reported in the Standard 30 September 1916 “ When his company officers had been disabled he carried on with great coolness and courage during three days of intense bombardment. He moved freely about to keep the men at work.” His battalion was involved in the Battles of Flers/Courcelette, the concluding battles of the Somme, which began on 15 September 1916 when the British used tanks for the first time. By the 13 October the day he was killed things were a little quieter in comparison to previous action. However, a letter from Lieut. Reginald Cobb to his parents, written the day before both men were killed instantaneously by the same shell burst, gives some idea of the conditions they were experiencing.
“You can’t imagine what it is like here. We are right in the middle of guns which are firing all day. There is practically a continuous stream of shells. The whizzing through the air and the noise of the shells exploding makes a pandemonium which we get so used to that we can sleep through it, although there are miniature earthquakes most of the time. We have been in this region about 12 days, but, on the whole, we have not had a bad time. I am out, but as you can imagine, sitting on the steps of a trench with a continual roar all round and above you is not the ideal place for letter writing.”
Thomas Alfred Perkins is buried next to Lieutenant Cobb in Bulls Road Cemetery, Flers. Letters were written by the C.Q.M.S and his Commanding Officer to his mother and wife Milly. Extracts were published in the Standard 28 October 1916.
” He died without any suffering, being killed instantly by the same shell that killed Lieut. Cobb. Both he and Lieut. Cobb were buried together and a cross marks their resting place”.
“I beg to tender to you, on behalf of my fellow officers and my self, what poor expression I can of our sympathy for you in your sad bereavement. It is a fearful loss to us all, so we may appreciate your loss accordingly. Your husband was one of the best – we all thought worlds of him – not only for his bravery but for his soldierly qualities. He was always cheerful. No trouble was too great for him so long as his company was well looked after. He was admired by every officer, non-commissioned officer and private soldier, so we feel his loss tremendously. As his Company Commander I knew that what ever I entrusted to him would be carried out to the letter. I shall never be able to replace him”.