Thomas Henry Palmer
1st Battalion Dorsetshire Regiment
Thomas Henry Palmer’s home address was 98, Pitcroft Avenue, Reading. He is commemorated on a his family’s grave. His father was James Palmer, a railway clerk and his mother Rosalind Palmer. The 1911 census indicates that Rosalind had borne nine children although only four servived. A daughter Rosalind May Keys, her husband Herbert and son Charles were living with the Palmer family. Thomas’s two sisters Alice and Bessie were also living in the family home. Thomas enlisted on 27July 1914, some days before the official declaration of war. Perhaphs with the intention of making acareer change. He was almost 24 years old. He joined the Dorset Regiment on 7 August and he was posted on active service overseas in October 1914. His service record on Ancestry UK indicates that his occupation was that of a fitter and turner. Thomas had served in the 1st/4th Royal Berkshire Regiment (Territorial Force) before the enlisting in the Dorset Regiment. His mother Rosilind is given as his nextof kin in the service record and it was she who received his medals and personal effects upon his death. Thomas Palmer was killed in action on the 26th April 1915. He is buried at White House Cemetery, St. Jean-les-Ypres, location IV. A.42.
Although the commemoration on the kerbs states killed in action in France, Thomas is actually buried in Belgium. The “White House” was on the Ypres road, between St. Jean and the bridge over the Bellewaardbeek. The cemetery was begun in March, 1915, and used until April, 1918, by units holding this part of the line. Originally it contained Plots I and II; but after the Armistice these Plots were completed, and III and IV added, by the concentration of graves from the battlefields round Ypres and from smaller burial grounds. Thomas Palmer’s service record states that he died from the effects of a gunshot wound. It is probable that his body was brought to the White House Cemetery from a smaller burial ground belonging to a casualty clearing station after the Armistice .
The Second Battle of Ypres had begun on 22nd April 1915. The Germans used poison gas for the first time during the next week. On 26th April the British launched counter attacks against the Germans south-east of Pilckem and towards St. Julien. The efforts came to naught with the British incurring 4,000 casualties during the day as they faced the superior German machine guns and artillery. Thomas Palmer is believed to have been a casualty of the fighting which took place in the area.
Lance Corporal 13156
“B” Company 8th Battalion Royal Berkshire Regiment
Charles Palmer was the son of William and Ellen Palmer, of 22, St. John’s Street, Reading. He is commemorated on his parents grave, the inscription is very indistinct, many of the lead letters are missing. His name appears on the Loos Memorial to the Missing. Panel 93 – 95. He died on 25th September 1915, the first day of the battle, aged 19. He was educated at Christ Church School and employed by Messes Knil and Co. for four years. He was one of the first to enlist in Lord Kitchener’s New Army.
In “Responding to the Call” by Colin Fox et al a detailed account of the battle which started September 25th 1915 is given. Training and rehearsals for the battle by the 8th Battalion had included bomb throwing “with live bombs” and preparations were made for the discharge of chlorine gas which the British Army used for the first time, some six months after the Germans first gas attack.
The order to “stand to” had been given at 3.30am and fix bayonets at 6am. Immediately a bombardment of the enemy trenches began and a release of gas and smoke. In the copses of La Haie and Bois Carré, in front of the attacking 8th Royal Berkshires and the 10th Gloucesters, the Germans had set up machine guns which caused many casualties in the attack across No Man’s Land. Eventually the 8th Battalion captured La Haie and had advanced 400 yards from their starting point. In a second charge the third line, at Gun Trench, was reached by 8.00am and the advance was now 1,200 yards. The final objective was to be Hulluch village but there was strong German resistance and eventually the 8th Battalion pulled back to form a line in Gun Trench. In “Responding to the Call” (page 48) Chapman states that Charles Palmer was amongst the first to fall as the 8th Battalion lead the attack, his body was never found. Charles Palmer had been with a small group of Reading men who had trained and worked together for almost a year. Only two of the group escaped death or injury. Casualties among the men were recorded as 56 killed, 176 wounded and 268 missing.
Sapper 92876 213th Army Troops Company
Frederick Palmer, was the son of Frederick Joseph and Fanny Jane Palmer, of 30, Cardigan Gardens, Reading. The 1901 census indcates that his father was a breadmaker at Huntley and Palmer’s biscuit factory. Frederick has a sister who wasayear older than him called Ethel.
Frederick Palmer died on 2nd April 1918, aged 22. He is buried in the St. Sever Cemetery Extension, Rouen. Location P.IX.M.13A.
It is likely that Frederick Palmer died of wounds as this was the main burial place for the dead of the Military hospitals in Rouen.