yeovil at War

Thomas George Hooper

Killed in Action on the Western Front

 

Thomas George Hooper was born early in 1886 and baptised at Holy Trinity church on 28 March 1886. He was the son of John Hooper, a carter at Great Lyde Farm, and his wife Jane. Nothing is known of his early life.

Thomas enlisted at Axminster, Devon, giving his address at this time as Lyme Regis, Dorset. He was a Gunner in the 150th Siege Battery, Royal Garrison Artillery. His Service Number was 42923 suggesting he enlisted in early 1916.

Siege Batteries of the Royal Garrison Artillery were equipped with heavy howitzers, sending large calibre high explosive shells in high trajectory, plunging fire. A Siege Battery would include five officers and 177 other ranks, 17 riding horses, 6 draught horses and 80 heavy draught horses. The transport comprised three two-horse carts and ten four-horse wagons. The usual armaments were 6 inch, 8 inch and 9.2 inch howitzers, although some had huge railway- or road-mounted 12 inch howitzers. As British artillery tactics developed, the Siege Batteries were most often employed in destroying or neutralising the enemy artillery, as well as putting destructive fire down on strongpoints, dumps, store, roads and railways behind enemy lines. 

The 150th Siege Battery was first deployed overseas on 26 August 1916, when it was sent to France.

The battery would include :-

  • Personnel: 5  officers and 177 other ranks
  • Horses: 17 riding, 6 draught and 80 heavy draught
  • Transport: 3 two-horse carts, 10 four-horse wagons

The battery would normally be with three others, under command of a Siege Brigade. The brigade would also include an Ammunition Column of:

  • Personnel: 3  officers and 104 other ranks
  • Horses: 13 riding, 2 draught and 72 heavy draught
  • Transport: 1 two-horse carts, 16 four-horse wagons

The brigade would also include its headquarters of:

  • Personnel: 7  officers and 137 other ranks
  • Horses: 21 riding, 5 draught and 72 heavy draught
  • Transport: 1 one-horse cart, 2 two-horse carts, 16 four-horse wagons

Because the siege batteries moved around during the course of the war, it is not known exactly where Thomas served with his battery. He was killed in action on 21 March 1918. He was 32 years old. Since he is remembered on the Pozieres Memorial, he must have been killed on the first day of the First Battle of the Somme in 1918 (21 March – 5 April 1918).

His name is not inscribed on the War Memorial in the Borough.

 

gallery

 

The record of Thomas' baptism at Holy Trinity church on 28 March 1886.

9.2 inch howitzers of a Siege Battery in action on the Western Front.

 

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission certificate in memory of Thomas Hooper.

 

Pozieres Memorial, Somme, France.

The Pozieres Memorial relates to the period of crisis in March and April 1918 when the Allied Fifth Army was driven back by overwhelming numbers across the former Somme battlefields, and the months that followed before the Advance to Victory, which began on 8 August 1918. The Memorial commemorates over 14,000 casualties of the United Kingdom and 300 of the South African Forces who have no known grave and who died on the Somme from 21 March to 7 August 1918. There are now 2,758 Commonwealth servicemen buried or commemorated in this cemetery. 1,380 of the burials are unidentified but there are special memorials to 23 casualties known or believed to be buried among them. There is also 1 German soldier buried here. The cemetery and memorial were designed by W.H. Cowlishaw, with sculpture by Laurence A. Turner. The memorial was unveiled by Sir Horace Smith-Dorrien on 4 August 1930.