Tom Hutchinson, Private 15/1264, 1st Leeds Pals
Tom Hutchinson was born in Aiskew in September 1890, the son of Thomas Hutchinson, a blacksmith, and his wife Elizabeth. According to the 1911 Census they were married about 1883, but I have found no suitable record for this, and, strangely, Thomas does not feature on any of the censuses. The 1911 Census actually leaves the space where he would have been empty, and Elizabeth, who did not fill it in, is given simply as ‘wife’. It also states that she had been totally blind since the age of 9. On the 1901 Census she appears as ‘head’, but again as ‘wife’ in 1891. The 1911 Census records that there have been eight children, one of whom died. Tom seems to have been the middle child, after Arthur, Annie and Ethel, and he was followed by Mabel, Frank and Alfred. Tom was working as a gardener at Elmete Hall in Roundhay, and may well have started this occupation as soon as he left school. Mabel was a dressmaker and Frank a grocer, suggesting that Tom specifically chose this career. The number of staff seems to have gone down since its heyday in the 1870s, but it was still owned by the Kitson family, and Tom was one of three gardeners listed, along with a groom. Another was John Robert Kirk, who also joined the Pals and was the brother of Susannah. Three years later, when the war broke out, Tom was a gardener at Bilton Hall, near Harrogate. (Find My Past)
In 1914 Tom was 24, and his army number indicates that he was a volunteer, joining at Colsterdale, probably early in 1915. But before then, on 12th September 1914 he got married. In Meanwood Parish Church he married Susannah Kirk, who was living in Hustler’s Row, a row of cottages in Meanwood wood, built about 60 years earlier by John Husler. Both fathers were present as witnesses, Henry Kirk being a clerk, and that is the only record of Thomas I have found. (Find My Past)
Having joined the Pals Tom would have followed the same regime as the rest of the battalion, training at Colsterdale, then Ripon, and finally Fovant in Wiltshire, before sailing off in December for Egypt, to guard the Suez Canal. In March they sailed again, this time for France, to prepare for the Big Push. After little more than a year of marriage he probably did not see his wife again.
On 1st July 1916 the Pals went over the top at the start of the Battle of the Somme. Along with so many others Tom did not come back. He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial. (CWGC) He is also named on the memorial at Holy Trinity Church, Meanwood. He was awarded the 1915 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. His brother Alfred had also been killed just over a year earlier. (Ancestry)
Based on material from ‘Meanwood Men’ by Cynthia Ruston
Researchers: Cynthia Ruston and Peter Taylor
- All opinions and inferences are the researcher’s own.
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