Thomas Henry Stearn (1893‒1918)
Thomas Henry Stearn was born in the first quarter of 1893 in Warboys ‒ then situated in Huntingdonshire, but now in Cambridgeshire, seven miles north of Huntingdon ‒ the son of George Thomas Stearn, railway platelayer, and his wife Mary Ann (née Woollard). At the time, the family lived at West End, Warboys, but it moved two years later to Cambridge and settled at 32 Hope Street, off Mill Road in Romsey Town. By 1904 it had moved to 154 Mill Road (one of a pair of private houses just round the corner from Argyle Street, close to the railway bridge ‒ see illustration); and by 1911 Thomas, aged 18, was employed as a railway porter. (His older brother, George William, worked for the railways, too, so they really were a “railway family”, living within 50 yards of the main railway line!)
Thomas enlisted in the army at Cambridge in 1914 or 1915. He joined the Royal Garrison Artillery with the rank of Gunner (the artillery equivalent of Private), his regimental number being 156666, and was assigned to the 25th Siege Battery. (The Siege Batteries were deployed behind the front line, tasked with destroying enemy artillery, supply routes, railways and stores. The batteries were equipped with heavy Howitzer guns firing large calibre 4, 6, 8 or 9.2 inch shells in a high trajectory.) The 25th Siege Battery proceeded to France on 3 August 1915.
The German Spring Offensive of 1918, of which the Second Battle of the Somme was part, began on 21 March. The 25th Siege Battery was stationed northwest of the city of Amiens in northern France, where on 31 (or 30) May Thomas was killed in action. As the German army advanced, his body was sent southwards from a nearby clearing station to the cemetery of Crouy-sur-Somme, 10 miles northwest of Amiens, which contains 739 Commonwealth burials, and where Thomas’s memorial is in plot II, row E, grave 14. His death is also recorded in this family grave, in the parish area of St Paul in Mill Road Cemetery. He was entitled to the Victory Medal and British War Medal. In his will, Thomas left effects to the value of £102 6s to his father George Thomas Stearn.
Lat Lon : 52.202119, 0.13665754 – click here for location
Parish : St Paul
War Graves Photographic Project
Wartime Memories Project : Royal Garrison Artillery during the Great War
England census report 1901; England & Wales census report 1911
England & Wales Civil Registration Birth Index 1837‒1915
England & Wales National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations) 1858‒1966, 1973‒1995
UK WW1 Service Medal and Award Rolls 1914‒1920
UK Soldiers died in the Great War 1914‒1919
British Army WW1 Medal Rolls Index Cards 1914‒1920 (RGA/19113, p. 9149)
By Ian Bent