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Thomas Barratt, Coseley's own VC

(5th May 1895 - 27 July 1917)

Victoria Cross Thomas Barratt's Grave


Memorial Tablet at Whittington Barracks, Staffordshire

Private 17114 Thomas BARRATT was born (5th May 1895 at 9 Foundry Street, Darkhouse, Coseley) son of James and Sarah Ann Barratt.

1901 Census for Sedgley, Staffordshire :

Ref: RG13/2741, Page 18
Address: 38 Webb Street, Coseley

James BARRATT, Head, Widower, 38, Iron Works Puddler, Sedgley Staffordshire
James BARRATT, Son, 13, Warrington Lancashire
Bert BARRATT, Son, 9, Sedgley Staffordshire
Thomas BARRATT, Son, 6, Sedgley Staffordshire


As shown in the 1901 Census above, Thomas's Mother was deceased by the time he was 6. (Strangely James Jnr. is shown as being born in Lancashire - this is also confirmed in the 1891 Census return)

My researches have found that there was a James BARRETT (sic) marrying a Sarah Ann BAYLISS at Christchurch, Coseley in the September Quarter of 1884 (Ref: Vol 6c, Page 1 and Dudley : 208/005/198) Sarah Ann died aged 33 in 1898 (Ref: Vol 6c, Page 44 and Dudley : SEG/101/340)

Thomas worked at Thompson Tankers, Great Bridge Road in Bradley, Bilston (where co-incidently I did my Apprenticeship in the late 1960's) before he enlsted in the South Staffordshire Regiment in January 1915.

In the Works Canteen was a War Memorial Plaque with a Roll of Honour of approximately 50 names of Employees and Employers who gave their lives in World War I. The memorial is now in the Staffordshire Regiment Museum, it was presented to the museum when the canteen was closed in 1987.

He was a member of the 7th Battalion, South Staffordshire Regiment.

An extract from The London Gazette, dated 4th September 1917, records the following:-

On 27 July 1917 north of Ypres, Belgium: For most conspicuous bravery when as Scout to a patrol he worked his way towards the enemy line with the greatest gallantry and determination, in spite of continuous fire from hostile snipers at close range. These snipers he stalked and killed. Later his patrol was similarly held up, and again he disposed of the snipers. When during the subsequent withdrawal of the patrol it was observed that a party of the enemy were endeavouring to outflank them, Private Barratt at once volunteered to cover the retirement, and this he succeeded in accomplishing. His accurate shooting caused many casualties to the enemy, and prevented their advance. Throughout the enterprise he was under heavy machine gun and rifle fire, and his splendid example of coolness and daring was beyond all praise. After safely regaining our lines this gallant soldier was killed by a shell.

Essex Farm
His grave is located at Essex Farm Cemetery, BOEZINGE, Ieper, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium.
Boezinge is a village in the province of West Flanders, north of Ieper.

His Victoria Cross is displayed at the Museum of the Staffordshire Regiment (The Prince of Wales's), Whittington Barracks, Lichfield, Staffordshire.

Local Newspaper report September 8th 1917. It was announced that the Victoria Cross had been awarded to Coseley soldier Private Thomas Barratt, aged 21, who saved his platoon from an enemy attack before being killed by a shell. Coseley folk recalled that young Barratt had been raised in the workhouse where his "unruly behaviour" was noted.

Visit Wikipedia's Victoria Cross reference site. an excellent cross-referenced site that details of all 1354 VC recipients.

Barratt Memorial plaque

Thomas's Memorial in Christ Church, Coseley

To the Glory of God
and to the honoured memory of
Thomas Barrett
of Darkhouse Lane in this Parish
Aged 22 years
Private in the 7th Batt South Staffs Regt.
who fell in action in France on 27th July 1917
after having performed
Glorious deeds of personal valour
and
devotion to duty
which gained him the
recognition of his Sovereign
in the bestowal of the
VICTORIA CROSS
the most coveted of all honours and the symbol
of that
supremely unselfish courage
which has ever been the ideal of the British Army

This tablet is erected by the
Officers, Non-Commissioned Officers and Men of the
Seventh Batt South Staffordshire Regt.
as a tribute to the heroism of a gallant comrade

R.I.P.

Copy of the Order of Service
for the unveiling and dedication
of the Memorial tablet on March 17th 1918
(see above)

Both very kindly supplied by my good friend
and distant cousin Dorothy TURLEY.


Near Essex Farm Cemetery the Canadian Medical officer John McCrae wrote one of the most famous war poems: 'In Flanders Fields'.
The poem was inspired by the death and funeral of Lt. Alexis Helmer. He was a patient and friend of McCrae.
IN FLANDERS FIELDS

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the Crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The Lark still bravely singing fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below
We are the dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe
to you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Rest in Peace Thomas, God bless.

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