SKELTON - IN - CLEVELAND
"WE WILL REMEMBER THEM"
478 Serjeant THOMAS LAIDLER JOHNSON. ["TOMMY JONES" ]
4th Battalion, Yorkshire Regiment
Killed in action on the 24th of May 1915, aged 43.
Born at Egglescliffe, Stockton on Tees. Enlisted at Middlesbrough.
Husband of Bessie Sophia Johnson of 17 Milbank St, Skelton, N Yorkshire.
Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres.
1871 - Thomas Laidler Jones was born in the July-Sept quarter of this year in Thornaby, N Yorks.
1881 - Thomas, age 9, is living at 3 Chelmsford St, Thornaby.
His father, Esau, age 31, is an Iron Worker, born in Staffordshire. His mother is Esther [nee Laidler], age 29, born Yorkshire.
Thomas has 2 brothers, John, 11, Esau, not yet 1, and a sister, Mary L, aged 5.
Also living with them is the father's brother, Tom Jones, aged 27.
1883 - In the June Quarter of this year Thomas' father, Esau died.
1884 - In the September Quarter Thomas' mother, Esther, married her brother-in-law, Tom Jones.
1891 - Thomas, now 20, is living in Cranworth St, Thornaby and working as a Labourer.
His sister, Mary and brother Esau are living with them, but John has left home.
His mother has had 4 more children with his Uncle Tom - Samuel, 8, Minnie, 6, William, 4 and Arthur, a few months.
A 68 year old widow, Mary J Sharpe, is lodging with them.
1893 Jan-March - Thomas, age 22, married Bessie Sophia Flowerdew in the Middlesbrough, N Yorks District.
Bessie, aged 25, was born in Tendring, nr Harwich, Essex. In 1881 she was living at 37 Georgina St, Thornaby, Stockton.
1901 - Thomas, now age 30, is employed as a Blast Furnace Mine Filler.
He and Bessie are living at 27 Derby St, Middlesbrough, N Yorks and no children are listed.
1911 - At the census of this year Thomas gave his age as 39 and for some unknown reason started using the surname of Johnson.
He and Bessie, with no children, are living at 10 Boosbeck Rd, Skelton Green, N Yorks and Thomas is employed as a Platelayer, below ground in the Ironstone Mines.
The Commonwealth War Graves correspondence after the War was sent to Bessie at 17 Milbank St, Skelton.
This family research has been kindly contributed by Owen Rooks of Sunderland and a native of Skelton-in-Cleveland.
His detective work has been possible only because Bessie referred to Thomas Johnson as "Tommy Jones" in the Death Notice she placed in the local Gazette.
The 4th Battalion, Yorkshire Regiment were part of the 150th Brigade, 50th (Northumbrian) Division.
Sgt Johnson's low Battalion number and rank indicate that he had been a volunteer for his local Territorials before the War started.
At the time of Tommy Johnson's death, only 5 weeks after he had gone out to France, the Battalion faced a heavy German attack in the Battle of Bellewaarde, part of the Second Battle of Ypres.
Many men were killed, wounded and overcome by Chlorine Gas.
Full details based on the Battalion War Diary can be read here.
Tommy is commemorated on the Menin Gate, Ypres, which bears the names of around 55,000 UK and Commonwealth men who died in the Ypres battles and have no known grave.
Tommy is also commemorated near his birthplace, on the War Memorial at Wolviston, Co Durham.