Thomas Sykes, Private 58121, 6th Battalion, Cheshire Regiment
Died of wounds 31st October 1917 at Lijssenthoek, near Poperinge, Belgium, aged 19
Thomas Sykes was born in 1899, the son of Mary and Joseph Sykes, a blacksmith’s striker of Stalybridge, Cheshire.
The family later moved to 100 Waters Green, Macclesfield.
Thomas enlisted in October 1916 and was drafted overseas on 2 October 1917. Less than one month later he was wounded, and he died from his wounds at number 10 Casualty Clearing Station, Remy Siding, Lijssenthoek on 31 October 1917.
The death of Private Thomas Sykes was reported in the Macclesfield Times on 9 November 1917:
DIED OF WOUNDS – POSTMAN’S NINETEEN YEAR OLD SON
Mr and Mrs Joseph Sykes, 100 Waters Green, Macclesfield, have been officially notified that their son, Pte Thomas Sykes, Ches Regt, died on October 31st from gunshot wounds sustained in action in France. The following letter [is] from the sister of the hospital: “… your son, Pte Sykes, was admitted into this casualty clearing station and died on October 31st at 10pm. He was in only a few hours before he died. He was very seriously wounded and was in a very bad condition at the time…”
Pte Sykes was only nineteen years of age and was very well-known in Macclesfield and district. He was educated at Mill Street Wesleyan school… and was connected with Sunderland Street Chapel. As a civilian, the deceased soldier was employed by Mr Shaw, fish and game dealer, Park Green, and enlisted in October 1916. The late Pte Sykes trained at Birkenhead and was drafted out to France on October 2nd of this year… Mr Sykes [his father] is a local postman and has been in the employ of the post office for a number of years.
More information, which seems to contradict the above, was printed the following week:
THE DEATH OF PTE T SYKES
Mrs and Mrs J Sykes… have received a letter relating to their son… from Second-Lieut C E Findlay… “On Sunday, October 28th, he was hit by fragments of a shell in the left side. He was very cheerful whilst the stretcher-bearers were carrying him down the line. Your son had a relapse and died on the Tuesday morning. He was a good soldier and all his comrades feel his loss very much. He did not seem to suffer much pain and passed away quite peacefully…”
According to his Army service records, Thomas was actually wounded on 29th October 1917, and he died of his wounds on the 31st.
Thomas’ Army service records included the following list of personal effects which were forwarded to his parents in April 1918: 1 identity disc; letters; photos; 1 pocket book; 1 notebook; 2 cigarette cases; 1 Christmas card.
Private Thomas Sykes is buried in grave ref. XXI. CC. 6. of the Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery, West Vlaanderen, Belgium. His mother asked for the words “GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN” to be inscribed on his headstone. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission holds casualty details for Private Thomas Sykes, and he is listed on the Imperial War Museum’s Lives of the First World War website.
Census (England & Wales): 1901
WWI British Army Service Records 1914-1920
Commonwealth War Graves Commission website
Lives of the First World War website
Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery website
Macclesfield Times: 9 and 16 November 1917