WRIGHT, Thomas Henry

No. 123987, Private, Thomas Henry WRIGHT
Aged 23

Royal Army Medical Corps
Lost at Sea on 26th February 1918

Thomas Henry WRIGHT was born in Haverhill (Risbridge Q1-1895 4A:751), son of Frederick and Laura Constantine WRIGHT (née BASHAM).
His father died in 1900, aged 36

1901 census...Aged 6, he was at 4 Chainey Pieces, Haverhill with his widowed mother Laura WRIGHT [38] tailoress; brothers Frederick [14] grocer's errand boy, Lance [10] and Clifford [5]; sisters Eva [12], Gladys [2] and Lizzie [7 months]. All were born in Haverhill.

1911 census...Aged 16, an errand boy, he was still at 4 Chainey Pieces with his mother, sisters Eva (tailoress), Gladys and Lizzie; brother Clifford. His mother had lost 2 of her 7 children.

Thomas worshipped at the West End Congregational Church and was a member of the Sunday School. Upon leaving school he worked as a factory hand for D. Gurteen & Son at Chauntry Mills, until he enlisted for four years in the 5th Battalion, Suffolk Regiment on 1st March 1912, at the age of 17 years 3 months. After Thomas had served his four years, he returned to Chauntry Mill as a general labourer in their Pressing Dept until he enlisted again.

On Army Form 5080 in 1919 his mother recorded living relatives as herself and his sisters Mrs G.R.Hughes [21] and Miss L F Wright [19] at 4 Chainey Pieces; his brothers Lt. F W Wright [33] Rifle Brigade, Aldershot, L A Wright [29] HMS "New Zealand", C G Wright [23] Hill Cottage, Rendham. Suffolk.

The South West Suffolk Echo of 9th March 1918 reported that:-
"Mrs. Wright, of 4 Chainey Piece, Haverhill, has received the following telegram "Regret to inform you that No.123987 Pts. T.H.Wright, R.A.M.C., reported missing, believed drowned, February 26th, loss of "Glenart Castle". Pte. Wright who was the third son of Mrs.Wright was 23 years of age. Prior to enlistment he was employed in the pressing department of the factory. "

He attested in Bury St Edmunds on 28th May 1916 and was placed on reserve and then mobilised into the R.A.M.C. on 8th August 1917. He gave his aged then as 22 years 8 months, single, labourer, from 4 Chainey Pieces, Haverhill, next of kin, his mother Laura Wright.He was 5 feet 7.75 inches ( 172.1 cm) tall, weighed 118 lbs (53.7 kg), chest 29.5" to 33" (74.9 to 83.8 cm). He had served 4 years in 1st/5th Suffolk Regiment (Territorials).
He embarked on HMHS "Glenart Castle" on 25th February 1918. This hospital ship, originally Union Castle line "Galicia", left Newport, South Wales on 26th February 1918, heading for Brest, France. According to on shore observers she was clearly lit as a hospital ship but at 4 am she was hit in the No. 3 hold, many lifeboats being destroyed. Only 32 survived, a total of 162 died. It subsequently was discovered that UC-56, commanded by Kapitanleutnant Wilhem Kiesewetter was responsible. As a body was recovered with bullet wounds it was suspected that the U-boat had fired on some survivors in an attempt to cover up the sinking. A charge of war crimes was unsuccessful

His Sunday School Union plaque in the West End Congregational

photo: Commonwealth War Graves Commission

A memorial to those who lost their lives in the sinking of the HMHS Glenart Castle was dedicated on 26th February 2002 at Hartland Point, North Devon.

Thomas Wright is commemorated on the Hollybrook Memorial, Southampton
and in the Congregational Church, Haverhill.

click here to go to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website for full cemetery/memorial details

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