Thomas Davenport, L/Cpl 13027, 10th Battalion, Lancashire Fusiliers
Killed in action 11th May 1916 in France, aged 33
Thomas Davenport was born in 1882 at Macclesfield, the son of Lydia and Samuel Davenport, a silk weaver. In 1891, 9 year old Thomas was living at 10 Holland’s Place with his parents and siblings Nathan (12), May (7), Elizabeth (4), and Patty (2). Samuel died at the age of 37 in the summer of 1895, and Lydia married Samuel’s younger brother Harry Davenport on 2nd December 1896 at St Peter’s Church, Macclesfield.
Thomas was educated at St Paul’s School. By 1901, the family had moved to 38 Knight Street, and 19 year old Thomas was living there with seven younger siblings: May (17), Ethel (14), Mary (12), Lydia (10), Amy (7), Harry (4) and Charles (2). Thomas was working at home as a silk weaver, as was his stepfather.
On 16th September 1905 Thomas married Fanny Partington at St Paul’s Church, Macclesfield; Thomas was then employed as an embroiderer and Fanny worked as a cutter-up. In 1911 they were living at 13 Fountain Street, Macclesfield with their four year old son, also called Thomas, just two doors away from Fanny’s parents. Thomas senior was still working as a silk embroiderer and Fanny was now a tie knitter. Later that year, their daughter Elsie was born.
The family later moved to 1 Daintry Terrace, off Fountain Street.
Prior to the war, Thomas had served in the local Volunteer Regiment, and since he was working in Manchester when war broke out, he attested there, joining the 10th Battalion of the Lancashire Fusiliers, which came under orders of 52nd Brigade, 17th (Northern) Division. Thomas spent some time in training and then went to France with his Battalion, landing at Boulogne on 15th July 1915. His role within the Battalion was as a sniper.
Thomas returned to Macclesfield for a week’s leave on 2nd May 1916, and was killed the day after arriving back in the trenches at L’Epinette near Armentieres on 11th May 1916, aged 33 years.
His death was reported in the Macclesfield Courier on 17th June 1916:
Mrs Davenport, of Daintry Terrace, off Fountain Street, Macclesfield, has been informed that her husband has been killed in France. Lance-Corporal Davenport, who was 33 years of age, was educated at St Paul’s School, and he served for some years in the local Volunteers. At the outbreak of war he was employed as an embroiderer in Manchester, and he joined the Lancashire Fusiliers, and went out to France in June last year. The only leave he has had since that time was last month. He came home on May 2nd and returned on May 10th. News has been received that he was killed on May 11th or 12th. He leaves a widow and two children. Mrs Davenport has received a letter from the King and Queen, and also the following letter from her husband’s commanding officer.
10th Lanc. Fusiliers,
Brit. Ex. Force, France,
June 6th, 1916
Dear Mrs Davenport – I am very sorry I have been so late in writing to sympathise with you over the death in action on May 11th or 12th of your husband. I am very sorry to say he was shot through the head by a bullet as he was going round the trenches.
As I daresay you know, he was one of our ‘battalion snipers,’ and as such he was indeed very useful, and distinguished himself very much, taking a keen interest in his work.
I need hardly add that we all miss him very much, as he was very popular with all the men, and had many chums.
As the sniping officer, I myself naturally had a good deal to do with him, and I can only say that if I wanted anything done, your husband always carried it out exactly as one would have wished.
Please accept my sincere sympathy, and let this thought console you: that no man can die a nobler death than to die (as he did) for his King and country. Believe me, yours truly, W. S. Orpen, 2nd Lieutenant.
L/Cpl Thomas Davenport is buried in Grave Ref. I. A. 27. of the Cite Bonjean Military Cemetery in France. His widow asked for the inscription “HIS DUTY DONE” to be added to his headstone.