Lance Corporal Thomas Frank Birch

Thank you to Lenka Cathersides for the following research.

Thomas Birch Birth Registration Transaction ©

Thomas Frank Birch was born on the 18th of September 1895 in Dorking, Surrey to railway porter Thomas and Laura Florence Birch (nee Reed).

Thomas’s father Thomas was born about 1867 in Hockliffe, Bedfordshire to labourer Jabez, born about 1840 in Battlesden, Bedfordshire and Elizabeth born about 1834 in London. At the time of the 1881 Census, Thomas was working as a farm servant. Thomas’s mother Laura Florence Reed was born in the 1st quarter of 1869 in Croydon, to bricklayer James, born about 1827 in St Mary’s, Devon, and Elizabeth, born about 1837 in Yockleton, Shropshire. Thomas and Laura married in the 4th quarter of 1892 in Croydon.

Thomas had six siblings: Edith F. born about 1891 in Croydon; Bertha A. born about 1894 in Dorking and Harry Walter born about 1899 in Capel. Laura Mary born about 1901, Albert born about 1901 and Ernest Edward born about 1909, all in Holmwood.

Thomas Birch 1898 South Holmwood School Admission Register © Surrey History Centre
Thomas Birch 1898 South Holmwood School Admission Register © Surrey History Centre

On the 10th of October 1898 Thomas was admitted into the South Holmwood Church of England School. At the time of his admission the family lived at Warwick Road, Holmwood. Thomas left the school on the 15th of September 1909.

Thomas Birch 1901 Census ©

At the time of the 1901 Census, the family lived at Church Terrace, Holmwood. Thomas snr was working as a railway porter and Laura was at home. The household further comprised of their children: Edith, Bertha, Thomas, Harry, Laura and Albert.

Thomas Birch 1911 Census ©

At the time of the 1911 Census, the family were still living at 2 Church Terrace. Thomas was still working as a railway porter and Laura was at home. The household further comprised of their children: gardener Thomas, Harry, Laura and Ernest along with Mr Birch’s father, railway porter, Jabez Birch. Laura stated that she had given birth to seven children of whom six were still alive. The accommodation had five rooms.

Thomas Birch attested on the 14th of September 1914 in Canterbury into the 3rd Line Depot of the Surrey Yeomanry (Queen Mary’s Regiment). He was a Private with regimental umber 2001.

Later he was transferred into the 10th Battalion, the Queen’s Royal West Surrey Regiment. His new regimental number was G/207915.

Thomas Birch served from the 14th September 1914 to the 23rd July 1916 on the home front; as the part of the B.E.F. from the 24th July 1916 to the 29th August 1918 in Bavlecourt, France, he was on leave from overseas from the 30th August 1918 to the 12th September 1918 and from the 13th of September 1918 he was again part of the B.E.F.

On the 9th of February 1918 he was admitted with pyrexia of unknown origin (trench fever) into the 139th Field Ambulance. On the 22nd February 1918 he was transferred into the 138 Field Ambulance and on the 25th of February 1918 into the 39th Casualty Clearing Station.

Thomas Birch 1920 Electoral Register ©

The 1920 Surrey, England, Electoral Register reads that Thomas and his parents lived at 2 Church Terrace, Holmwood.

Thomas Birch Death Registration Transaction ©

Thomas Birch died on the 21st of April 1920 in Southwark, London. At the time of his death he was part of the 4th Battalion, the Queen’s Royal West Surrey Regiment. He was a Lance Corporal.

Thomas Birch South Holmwood Graveyard ©
Thomas Birch Grave in South Holmwood Graveyard ©

He is buried at Holmwood (St Mary Magdalene’s) Churchyard at its north end.

Thomas Birch Medal Roll Index Card ©
Thomas Birch British War Medal and Victory Medal Award Rolls ©

He received the British War and Victory medals.

Laura Birch © Dorking Advertiser
Laura Birch 100th Birthday Celebrations © Dorking Advertiser

In 1967 Thomas Frank’s mother Laura Florence Birch celebrated her 100th birthday. The 1967 newspaper reads that she lived next door to the Duke’s Head at Beare Green. “Until six years ago she had lived at South Holmwood for 65 years. Her late husband was a signalman on the railway and they had seven children, three of whom survive. Mrs Birch says one of the reasons she has lived so long is because she drinks two Guinnesses a day and she has received a congratulatory letter from the firm together with fortnight supply of Guinness and the gift of a barometer. Mrs Birch is a very sprightly centenarian, studies the papers keenly each day, especially the sports page. Football, boxing and horse racing are her main interests and her favourite jockey is Sandy Barclay. She played bingo and attended whist drives until 6 years ago.” ©

Mrs Birch died shortly after her birthday and was buried on the 7th of March 1969 at Holmwood (St Mary Magdalene’s) Churchyard. At the time of her death she still lived in Beare Green.

Born                                 Dorking, Surrey
Lived                                Holmwood, Surrey

Son of                              Thomas and Laura Florence (nee Reed) Birch

Enlisted                             Canterbury, Kent

Regiment                          4th Battalion. The Queen’s Royal West Surrey Regiment
Number                             207915

Date of Death                    21st April 1920
Place of Death                   Southwark, London
Cause of Death                 Trench Fever

Age                                    24

Cemetery                          St. Mary Magdalene Churchyard, South Holmwood

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