yeovil at War

thomas john ambrose denmead

Died following an operation in hospital


Thomas John Ambrose Denmead, known as Jack, was born in Yeovil in the summer of 1896, the elder son of glove sorter Thomas Denmead (1867-1932) and Elizabeth née Gummer, known as Bessie (1897-1937). In the 1901 census Thomas and Bessie were listed at 2 Summerhouse Terrace with their children; 4-year old Jack and his siblings Frederick, known as Bert, and Rose aged 3 and 1 respectively. By the time of the 1911 census the family were living at 10 Newton Road and 14-year old Jack was working as a clerk in James Petter's iron foundry office in Clarence Street. He was later to work at Petter's Nautilus Works in Reckleford.

According to his Service Number 202704, Jack enlisted in the 2nd/4th Battalion, Gloucestershire Regiment during November or December 1916.

2nd/4th (City of Bristol) Battalion had been formed at Bristol in September 1914 as a home service ("second line") unit. In January 1915 it came under command of the 2nd Gloucester & Worcester Brigade, 2nd South Midland Division at Northampton. The Battalion landed in France on 24 May 1916.

According to the memoirs of one soldier of the Battalion "I was posted to the 2/4th Battalion Gloucesters (Territorials) part of the 61st Division (we called it the sixty-worst). This was a second line division which got very few replacements for casualties or wastage. It was not used in main attacks usually but for holding line after attacks and in quiet sectors."

Another soldier of the Battalion recalling that the men ".... were soon going to face a period of booby traps that called for all the skill and sense not to touch anything that looked inviting, especially the village pianos. One favourite with the German booby trappers was to suspend a small shell or minenwerfer on copper wire somewhere in the church crypt with a special small container with acid-soaked wadding until the wire was rotten and not strong enough to take the weight, explosive shell, bomb or what have you. One could think of many ways in which the Germans did their traps. One special trap was very inviting; this was where civilians had had a factory many miles behind the line. They used coke, and when the Germans pushed, they in turn used the coke, but when they had to go they would bury 4 or 5 shells in a heap of coke and then start a fire. After a day or so, 4 or 5 tons of coke makes a welcome, warming place, except when the whole lot goes up."

In fact Jack was to be in France only a few weeks before he was taken ill. He was returned to England where he was hospitalised for several months but sadly died on 19 April 1917 following an operation at the Royal Alexandra Infirmary at Paisley. He was just 20 years old.

The Western Gazette reported on 27 April 1917 "News reached Yeovil last week that Private Jack Denmead of the Gloster Regiment, eldest son of Mr Tom Denmead, of Newton Road, had died following an operation at a military hospital at Paisley. Private Denmead, who was a little over 20 years of age, was employed at Messrs. Petters’ Ltd, ultimately going to France with his Battalion. He was brought home sick some months ago, and has been in hospital ever since. The body was brought to Yeovil from Paisley on Friday, the coffin being covered with a number of beautiful floral tributes, including tokens from “Comrades” Royal Alexandra Infirmary (Paisley), the medical staff, the nursing staff, patients in Ward 6, and from the maids of the hospital. There was also a choice floral emblem from the staff of the Nautilus Works, of Messrs. Petters Ltd., and many floral tributes from sympathising friends. The funeral took place on Monday afternoon at the Cemetery, the Rev. G.C. Seymour (curate of the Parish Church) officiating. The principal mourners were:- Mr. and Mrs. T. Denmead (father and mother), Messrs. W. Denmead and H. and F. Gummer, (uncles), Miss A. Denmead (aunt), and Mr. Bert Evans, Merthyr Tydvil (cousin)."

Jack was buried in Yeovil Cemetery, Grave A491, and his name is inscribed on the War Memorial in the Borough.




The terrace of houses known as Summerhouse Terrace, almost certainly built by Samuel Cridland in 1875, boarded up and awaiting demolition in the mid-1960s. Jack spent his early years at No 2, with the boarded-up bay window and the car outside.


Jack Denmead's headstone.