1914 - 2023

The Marston Lads

Click here to edit subtitle


Thomas Barton

Killed in Action

22nd October 1917

Aged 25

The 15th Battalion

The Cheshire Regiment

11 Marston Lane

and later

Lane Ends Farm Marston

Thomas Barton was born in 1892 and the youngest of seven children born to John Barton and Mary Ann Barton.

His mother Mary Ann passed away in 1894 aged 42 years leaving children aged 16, 14, twin girls aged 9, 7, 4 and age 2.

By 1901, only the youngest two children are living with their father, which are Thomas and Fredrick.

In 1911, John Barton was still a widower and still living at 11 Marston Lane, he is now aged 63 and still working at the nearby Salt Mine. Living with him is daughter Annie (one of the twins) who is aged 26 years now, single and a housekeeper.  Also living with them is Sarah Riley, a widow aged 75 and noted as 'old age pensioner'. Old age pensions had just become law in 1908 from the age of 70 years.

I was also delighted to read in the 1911 census that all seven children born to his marriage were still living. John Barton had never remarried despite having seven children under the age of 16, and while still working at Marston Salt Mine, when his wife died in 1894. I will admit to having considerable admiration for John Barton.

Thomas Barton attested at Northwich on the 14th June 1916 at the age of 24 years and 6 months to the Cheshire Regiment.

Unusually, he has given his address as 'c/o Mr Hopley of Winsford, but noted his father John Barton of Marston as his next of kin. His employment was given as a farm labourer. He was working at Lane Ends Farm, Marston in 1911, so can we presume he has moved to Winsford and to a different farm? The name Hopley and farming in Winsford, is even around today.

Thomas was posted to France on the 6th January 1917 and joined the 15th Battalion The Cheshire Regiment on the 26th January 1917.

Thomas was in Belgium and took part in the Third Battle of Ypres, also known as the Battle of Passchendaele which was fought from July to November 1917, for control of the ridges south and east of the Belgian city of Ypres in West Flanders.

This battle resulted in 448,614 allied casualties and made Passchendaele infamous for its appalling conditions and loss of life as dead soldiers within the killing grounds became bogged down in the mud and water with the dead and wounded left in 'no-mans' land, and with constant shell fire and no hope of recovery, the dead and injured were literally pulverised to nothing.
Due to confusion of the battle, Thomas's casualty form shows him being wounded on the 24th October 1917. It was noted later that he was confirmed killed in action two days before on the 22nd October 1917.

Thomas Barton's body was never found and remains one of the 300,000 soldiers that are still missing from WW1 which have no known grave. He is also one of the 12 Marston Lads that were never found and given a burial. The Marston Memorial is the only record of their name, and the only place where loved ones could at least visit. All the Marston Lads had a name and they had a life which was ended through no fault of themselves. We need to remember them, to remember them helps to never to repeat the mistakes of history.

Thomas Barton is commemorated at Tyne Cot Cemetery, Belgium. The largest Commonwealth War Cemetery in the world.

Tyne Cot Cemetery Belgium
Tony Hayes