Benjamin Robert Thompson (1896–1916) served with the 11th Battalion the Suffolk Regiment (known as the ‛Cambs Suffolks’) during the First World War, and was wounded by a shell at La Boiselle on the second day, 2 July, 1916, of the Battle of the Somme. He died of his wounds on 4 August 1916, at the age of 20.
Benjamin’s battalion, which had been formed in Cambridge in 1914, took part in one of the major battles of the First World War: the Somme, close to the Belgian border in north-eastern France. That battle lasted from 1 July to 18 November 1916.
The 11th Battalion the Suffolk Regiment went to La Boiselle in May 1916, and was part of the bombardment of the Germans on 1 July in which 57,000 British casualties were sustained. The battalion lost 190 of its men on that day, with 337 casualties.
Benjamin was wounded by shell fire on 2 July while working as a stretcher bearer rescuing the injured from “No Man’s Land”, and subsequently had one leg amputated; he was brought back to England, and died in the military hospital at Whalley, in Lancashire, on 4 August of the same year. He was awarded the Military Medal, which was a Level 3 Gallantry Award. The family posted a newspaper announcement recording the first anniversary of his death:
In ever-loving memory of our dear boy, DRUMMER B R THOMPSON, 11th Suffolk Regt., who died on August 4th, 1916, of wounds received in
action July 2nd, 1916.
He quickly responded to the call,
And in the field he honours won;
He gave his life, he gave his all,
His duty done.
–From his sorrowing Mother, Father, Sister and Brother.
(Cambridge Independent Press and Cambridgeshire Weekly News and Express, August 3rd 1917)
NB For a poetic monologue about Benjamin by © Kay Blaney, please click on the download.
Benjamin Robert Thompson monologue
Lat Lon : 52.203935, 0.13768131 – click here for location
Parish : St Andrew the Less
Census returns for England: 1841, 1851, 1861, 1871, 1881, 1891, 1901, 1911
England & Wales, FreeBMD Birth Index, 1837–1915
England & Wales, FreeBMD Marriage Index, 1837–1915
England & Wales, FreeBMD Death Index, 1837–1915
England & Wales, Death Index, 1916–2007
England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858–1966
UK, Soldiers Died in the Great War, 1914–1919
London Gazette, issue 29719, p. 8364, 22 August 1916
By Emma Easterbrook and Ian Bent