Thomas Slack, Private 11179, 8th Battalion, Cheshire Regiment
Killed in action 17th April 1916 in Mesopotamia (Iraq), aged 29
Thomas Slack was baptised on 29th May 1887 at St Peter’s Church, Windmill St, Macclesfield, the son of Frances and Thomas Slack, a policeman of 84 Vincent St, Macclesfield. By 1891 the family had moved to 21 Higginbotham Street, Macclesfield, and in 1901 13 year old Thomas was living at the same address with his parents and sister May (5), and employed as an assistant butcher.
On 8th May 1909 Thomas, then employed as a painter, married Mary Harding at Christ Church, Macclesfield. Two years later in 1911 they were living at 76 Newton Street with two sons, Thomas aged 1 and George, just six months old. Thomas stated that he was employed as a “House and Church decorator” – a painter and paperhanger for Mr E.V. Rumsey.
Mary died the following year on 15th November 1912, and young Thomas died on 23rd October 1915 at the age of six while his father was away from home, fighting in Gallipoli.
Thomas attested in Macclesfield, joining the 8th Battalion Cheshire Regiment (which formed part of the 13th Division), and after a period of training he was drafted to Gallipoli, arriving on 26th June 1915. After the evacuation of Gallipoli was completed in January 1916, the 8th Battalion moved to Egypt to refit and re-equip, and from there to Mesopotamia, arriving on the 28th February 1916 and joining the Anglo-Indian forces in the relief of Kut. On the 16th and 17th April they were engaged in the action at Bait Isa; it was during the second day of this engagement that Thomas was killed in action.
His death was reported in the Macclesfield Times of 2nd June 1916:
PRIVATE THOMAS SLACK – KILLED AFTER A YEAR’S FIGHTING
Mr T Slack, 21 Higginbotham Street, Macclesfield, has received an intimation from the War Office that his son, Private Thomas Slack… was killed in action on April 17th… Private Slack was 29 years of age and a widower, his wife having died four years ago. He had one child which is now left an orphan. He received his education at St John’s day school and attended the Newtown Primitive Methodist Chapel. Prior to enlisting, Private Slack was employed as a painter by Messrs. Hill and Dixon. He was a prominent member of the Brewers’ Arms Bowling Club, and had for a number of years been interested in Buffaloism, having joined the Sir George E Farmer Lodge, in which he occupied several offices with zeal and efficiency.
The deceased soldier, like his father who served 26 years in the Borough Police Force, was a man of fine physique, standing 6ft 2 in. He went out to the Dardanelles on June 26th, 1915, and was amongst the last to leave at the evacuation. Subsequently he proceeded to Egypt, and afterwards was transferred to the Indian Expeditionary Force.
The deceased soldier wrote home regularly, and in his last letter… made sympathetic references to the death of Private Wilfred Brough, of Buckley Street, a comrade in the 8th Cheshires. Private Slack has four cousins serving in the Army.
Private Thomas Slack has no known grave and is commemorated on Panel Ref. 14 and 62 of the Basra Memorial, Iraq. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission holds casualty details for Private Thomas Slack, and he is listed on the Imperial War Museum’s Lives of the First World War website.