1914 - 2023

The Marston Lads

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Thomas Bramall

Killed in Action
24th March 1918

Aged 27

11th Battalion
The Cheshire Regiment

43 Chapel Street

The last Marston Lad to be killed was James Riley on the 20th December 1917, three 3 months later the village would lose three more Marston Lads in the last week of March.

Thomas Bramall would be the first Marston Lad to be killed in 1918.

Thomas Bramall was the son of Henry and Hannah Bramall and born in 1892 and one of eleven children. By 1911, two children had died.

Thomas worked at the nearby Alkaline plant as a general labourer, as did his father. The family originated from Warrington, and with the new Chemical plants springing up around Northwich, it's what brought the family to Marston.

Thomas was one of the first 'Marston Lads' to enlist for the army and he attested on the 12th August 1914 at Chester for The Cheshire Regiment. He would go on to serve 3 years and 225 days in the First World War.

Within weeks, James was in France and on the 17th November 1914 was shot and wounded in the left thigh. This left him with a permanent limp, but he went back into service after treatment back in England at Chester. In April 1915, he was back in France.
Thomas fought in all the main French battles, including both major battles for Arras. On at least two occasions he came down with Dysentery and was hospitalised.

Thomas Bramall Casualty Form

Thomas Bramall had served in the war through four Christmas's. When 1918 arrived and having served over 3.5 years, and with the talk that the war would soon be over, he must have been looking forward to going back home and getting back to normality.

The Spring Offensive March 1918
The Spring Offensive

The 1918 Spring Offensive, or  Kaiserschlacht ("Kaiser's Battle"), also known as the Ludendorff Offensive, was a series of German attacks along the Western Front during the First World War, beginning on 21 March 1918. The Germans had realised that their only remaining chance of victory was to defeat the Allies before the United States could fully deploy its resources. The German Army had gained a temporary advantage in numbers as nearly 50 divisions had been freed by the Russian withdrawal from the war with the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk.

Once they began advancing, the Germans struggled to maintain the momentum, partly due to logistical issues. The fast-moving stormtrooper units could not carry enough food and ammunition to sustain themselves for long, and the army could not move in supplies and reinforcements fast enough to assist them. The Allies concentrated their main forces in the essential areas (the approaches to the Channel Ports and the rail junction of Amiens). Strategically worthless ground, which had been devastated by years of conflict, was left lightly defended. Within a few weeks, the danger of a German breakthrough had passed, though related fighting continued though July.

Between the 21st March 1918 and July 1918, the casualties were mind boggling with the Allies reporting 863,374 casualties. The German casualties were 688,341. That's 1.5 million casualties in just 4 months.
Taken from the news letter of the Cheshire Regiment Association 2014

For Thomas Bramall, a veteran of nearly four years; he was reported missing on the 23rd March 1918 and later declared killed in action on either the 23rd or the 24th March 1918, with the offical date given as the 24th March 1918. His body was never recovered.

Thomas Bramall is remembered with honour at the Arras Memorial, France. One of the 300,000 that have no known grave.

The Arras Memorial to the Missing, Arras, France.
Tony Hayes