Thomas Arnold, Private 126521, 42nd Bn. Machine Gun Corps (Infantry)
Killed in action 5th April 1918 in France, aged 31
Thomas Arnold was born in Macclesfield and baptised at Hurdsfield Holy Trinity Church on 8 December 1886, the son of Jane and Thomas Arnold, a road paver working for the Council.
The 1891 census shows five-year-old Thomas living at 14 Princess Street, Macclesfield with his parents and siblings Peter (12), Benjamin (10) and Jane (1). By 1901 the family had moved to 8 Pool Street and Thomas, then 15 years of age, was employed as a silk weaver.
Thomas married Jane Lees at St Paul’s Church, Macclesfield on 1 January 1910. The couple set up home at 7 Turnock Street, the home of Jane’s mother and younger sister, Florence.
Thomas Arnold first enlisted with the local 7th Cheshire (Territorial) Regiment on 1 April 1908, with service number 357. As a trained soldier, on the outbreak of war he was mobilised, and along with one hundred other local men volunteered to serve in France, embarking from Southampton on 14 February 1915.
In April 1915 Thomas sprained his back in an accident in the barracks, and after treatment at Boulogne and Rouen was repatriated to England, where he remained until his term of service expired on 31 March 1916. Thomas was discharged from the Army and returned to civilian life, working for the London and North-Western Railway at Manchester.
In August 1917 Thomas either volunteered or was conscripted back into the Army and returned to France.
Private Arnold was killed in action on 5 April 1918; his death was reported in the Macclesfield Times on 27 September 1918:
KILLED – Through the Red Cross Society Mrs Arnold, Turnock Street, Macclesfield, has been informed that her husband, Pte Thomas Arnold, Machine Gun Corps, King’s Shropshire Light Infantry, who had been officially reported missing on April 6th, was killed on or about that date. Before the outbreak of the war deceased had served eight years in the Macclesfield Territorials, with whom he was mobilised, and he was one of the 100 local men who volunteered for service in France with another battalion of the Cheshire Regt. He crossed over [to France] on February 10, 1915, while serving in the trenches sustained an injury to his back through being partially… as the result of shell fire. For some time he was in hospital.
In March, 1916, Pte Arnold [became] time-expired and was employed on the London and North-Western Railway at Manchester until August, 1917, when he rejoined the Army, being posted to the Machine-Gun Corps of the Shropshire Light Infantry. He went to France again last January and was reported missing on April 6th. Pte Arnold was 31, and his parents, both of whom are dead, belonged in Hurdsfield. Previous to the war he worked in the weaving shed at the Lower Heyes Mill.
His brother, Pte Ben Arnold, who was called up as a reservist, was killed at Mons; and another brother, Pte Peter Arnold, a Regular soldier, died while in India some years ago. With the exception of a sister, the family is now extinct, the three brothers having yielded up their lives in the service of King and Country.
Private Thomas Arnold has no known grave and is commemorated on panel ref. Bay 10 of the Arras Memorial, France. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission holds casualty details for Private Thomas Arnold, and he is listed on the Imperial War Museum’s Lives of the First World War website.
In Macclesfield, Private Thomas Arnold is commemorated on the Park Green, Town Hall and St Michael’s Church war memorials. He is also remembered on a family gravestone in Macclesfield Cemetery, plot ref. G. 5623.
Brother of Benjamin Arnold, who served as Private 7307 in the 1st Cheshire Regt. and was killed in action on 13 November 1914; and Peter Arnold, who served as a private in the 2nd Cheshire Regt, married Ida Beatrice Murphy on 12 April 1909 in Vepery, Madras, India and died in India several years before 1918.
Cheshire Parish Baptism Registers: (Find My Past) Holy Trinity Church, Hurdsfield, Macclesfield
Cheshire Parish Marriage Registers: (Find My Past) St Paul’s Church, Macclesfield
Census (England & Wales): 1891, 1901, 1911
WWI British Army Service Records 1914-1920 (Find My Past)
Commonwealth War Graves Commission website
Lives of the First World War website
Macclesfield Times: 27 September 1918, 23 September 1921