Carr, Tom A

Tom Adamthwaite Carr

Corporal, 3rd (North Riding) Battery, Royal Field Artillery, 2nd Northumbrian Brigade, 50th Territorial Division.

Military Service Number 1037

Born January 1881 in Scalby, Scarborough, North Yorkshire

Killed in Action Whit Monday, 24 May 1915

Age 36

Commemorated on the Menin Gate, Ypres (Panel 5 and 9)

http://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/1605952/CARR,%20TOM%20A (Tom’s CWGC record mistakenly records him as being in the West Riding Battery, whereas he was in the North Riding Battery).

Buried in Ypres Town Cemetery Extension (see explanation below)

Corporal Tom Carr

Corporal Tom Carr

P1020600

Tom Carr was a Scalby lad, only child of Edward and Jane Carr (née Adamthwaite).  His parents met and married in Doncaster and were living in Scalby 4 years later where Tom was born.  Both the 1881 and 1891 Census show the family were living at Fountain Cottage, adjacent to the Jubilee Fountain on the High Street.  His father was a Nurseryman and Tom attended the village school where he rose to become a pupil teacher.  The Minute Book of Scalby National School, 1863-1902, reveals that on January 14 1899 The matter of the Pupil Teacher Tom Carr being retained was postponed (since only 3 Board members were present) and on February 18 1899 Tom was to be allowed to remain a Pupil Teacher till December.  The 1911 Census shows the family living at 1 Beaconsfield Villas, on Scalby Road.  Interestingly, Tom was the Enumerator for Scalby and Newby in the 1911 Census.

Tom joined the Territorial Army in Scarborough on 6 May 1912.  His records are among the ‘burnt records’ that survived the Blitz of the Second World War, and show that he was almost 6 feet tall with a chest measurement of 36 inches.  He was promoted to Temporary Corporal on 22 January 1915 and his Medal Roll Index Card shows that he entered France with his Brigade on 20 April 1915.  Exactly 5 weeks later he died fighting in the Second Battle of Ypres.

The War Diary reveals that on 13 May the 50th Division moved up to the front line to reinforce the 28th Division, travelling through Poperinghe and Vlamertinghe and on to Ypres.  As they travelled through the city and on to the Menin Road shells exploded around them and several buildings were on fire.  The Brigade took up their position behind the front line with the 3rd North Riding Battery near a farm at Potizje, a village not far outside Ypres on the Menin Road, at the crossroads of what is now the N332 and A345.  This was to be their home for the next two weeks.

Over the next few days each battery registered its guns on various enemy targets, dug-outs were constructed, telephone lines established between each battery and HQ and suitable forward observation posts located.  Late afternoon on 17 May the battery opened fire on a white gabled house which the enemy was using as an observation station; about 21 rounds were fired at a range of about 2,000 yards.  The enemy replied with high explosive shells, directed chiefly against the Cavalry Brigade HQ. Corporal Tom Carr was wounded slightly in the heel.

24 May 1915, Whit Monday, was a hot, fine day.  Tom Carr and the 3rd North Riding Battery came on duty at 1am.  At 2.45 am the battery reported heavy rifle fire from the front line.  In fact this was the start of the Battle of Bellewaarde Ridge, the official history recalls.  At 2.45am the enemy sent up six red lights whereupon heavy fire was opened by guns, machine guns and rifles.  A cloud of gas on the largest scale yet experienced was released on nearly the whole length of V Corps front; about 4.5 miles.

At 4.45am Left section reported No. 4 gun out of action, a Serjeant and Gunner wounded.  At 6.08am orders were received to concentrate fire on enemy trenches and to gradually decrease range.  The enemy began to fire gas shells at the British artillery.  Only 6 respirators had been issued to the battery; the rest had to use wet handkerchiefs though the official history records that the gas used in most of the shells fired that day did little more than make the eyes water.

At about 7am a shell, estimated to be a 4 inch high explosive shell, exploded to the rear of No 1 gun of the 3rd N. Riding Battery, a second hit the gable of a nearby farm building and a third struck the right wheel of No 1 gun.  This killed Corporal Tom Carr and 4 other men, and seriously injured Sergeant George Payne Hill from Whitby, who died of wounds the following day.  A burial party was organised at about 7pm under Lt W.H. Cooper and the five men were buried at the rear of the farm under a hedge at Potijze together with Robert Wilson, driver of an ammunition wagon.  Their graves or identification were lost and their names are recorded on the Menin Gate, built in 1927 by the bridge over which the men would have passed 2 weeks earlier.  Sgt Hill is buried in Bailleul Communal Cemetery.

The Battle of Bellewaarde Ridge ended the following day and on 27 May the 3rd North Riding Battery, together with the rest of the brigade, marched out of the line to billets.

Tom’s death was widely reported in the local press.

THE SCARBOROUGH MERCURY, FRIDAY JUNE 4, 1915

TOM CARR’S DEATH CONFIRMED

News was received this morning by his father, Mr Edward Carr, Beaconsfield Villa, Scalby, that his son, Corpl. Tom Carr, … North Riding Battery, R.F.A, Scarborough had been killed last week, and that he had been buried immediately, the circumstances agreeing with those cited in a letter which is quoted in another column.

Corpl. Carr was well known in Scarborough, where he was employed at Mr Dalton’s bookshop, Newborough, and also as a night assistant at the Telephone Exchange.

 COMMANDER’S APPRECIATIVE LETTER.

Mr E Carr of Beaconsfield Villa, Scalby, has received a letter from the officer commanding the North Riding Battery, R.F.A., conveying the sad tidings that his son, Corpl. Tom Adamthwaite Carr, was killed in action on the 25th May (the CWG site says 24th May).  The letter states, “The circumstances were briefly these: About 7am the battery opened rapid fire on the enemy’s infantry, which were reported to be advancing.  A hostile battery opened fire and the third or fourth shell exploded on the right hand gun wheel, seriously wounding Sgt. G.P. Hill (Whitby) and killing instantly your son (who was gun layer), Gunners Clarke, Rowbottom and Robinson (Scarborough) and Venus (Hull).  Your son’s services were particularly valuable to the battery, both as an excellent non-commissioned gun layer, but also as my pay clerk, and I miss him very much.  He was buried with his comrades close by the spot where they met a soldier’s death so bravely.’

 Gunner J W Clarke of 8 Lower Albion Street and Gunner George Robinson were also reported killed with Tom Carr.

 SCARBOROUGH MERCURY, FRIDAY 4 JUNE 1915

 GUNNER ROWBOTTOM’S DEATH

LETTER FROM COMMANDING OFFICER. Mr Fred Rowbottom, 8 Park Road, Scarborough, whose son, Gunner J.W. Rowbottom was killed in action a few days ago, has received the following letter from the Commanding Officer of the North Riding Battery:

It is my painful duty to inform you that your son was killed in action yesterday (25th).  He was one of A gun detachment which about 7am was engaging German infantry with rapid fire.  A hostile battery opened fire, and the third or fourth shell exploded on the right gun wheel.  Your son was killed instantly.  He was buried with his comrades the same night near the spot where he so bravely met a soldier’s death.  The exact spot has been noted and marked and will be communicated to you later if you desire.  His effects will be forwarded through the Record Office. 

 Gunner Rowbottom was 27 years of age and was single. His parents have received numerous letters of sympathy. 

 SCARBOROUGH MERCURY, FRIDAY 4 JUNE 1915

 SCALBY NEWS

APPRECIATION. The kindly feeling of attachment which exists between the Scalby Schoolmaster (Mr John Tickle) and his old scholars, is expressed in the following extract from a letter of sympathy in the death of Corpl. Tom Carr, R.F.A., killed in action:  “Tom was known to me ever since he was a little fellow two years old.  You know how I esteemed him and how intimate and pleasant were the relations between us.  His name stands at the head of our roll of honour in school and there it will remain as long as the school lasts.  His death was the death of a hero.  He will be remembered with the bravest of the brave.”  This extract well expresses the feeling at Scalby in regard to one who was universally esteemed in the district in which he was well known. 

Tom Carr's name on the Menin Gate. Photo taken by Graeme Casper.

Tom Carr’s name on the Menin Gate. Photo taken by Graeme Casper.

Beaconsfield Villas, Scalby Road. Home of Tom Carr in the 1911 Census

Beaconsfield Villas, Scalby Road. Home of Tom Carr in the 1911 Census

In 2013 the bodies of six soldiers were discovered on a building site off the N332 leading from Ypres to Zonnebeeke, not far from the entrance to Ypres Town Cemetery Extension.  They were exactly at the map reference where the Brigade War Diary said Tom Carr and the other 5 men were buried.

The Ministry of Defence issued this statement:

The burials of Gunners Joseph William Rowbottom and Albert William Venus along with the unknown remains of four other soldiers of the Great War will take place at Ieper Town Cemetery Extension, Ieper, Belgium on 20 April 2016 at 11:00 hours. Both Gunners Rowbottom and Venus were killed in action on 24 May 1915. Shoulder titles from North and East Riding Batteries, Royal Field Artillery were discovered with the remains. Research pinpointed the 2nd Northumbrian Brigade RFA to this area on 24 May 1915.   

Gunners Rowbottom and Venus were positively identified by DNA and were given named headstones.  The DNA obtained from a relative of Tom Carr’s father proved inconclusive, so the search continues for a living female relative from an unbroken line of females on his mother’s side.

The headstones of Gunners Rowbottom, Venus and 4 'unknown' companions

The headstones of Gunners Rowbottom, Venus and 4 ‘unknown’ companions (thanks to Tony Brookes for the photo)

The body of Gunner J W Rowbottom is carried in by soldiers of 4th Regiment Royal Artillery (The North-East Gunners), who are based in Alanbrooke Barracks near Thirsk.

The body of Gunner J W Rowbottom is carried in by soldiers of 4th Regiment Royal Artillery (The North-East Gunners), who are based in Alanbrooke Barracks near Thirsk.

Wreath in memory of Cpl Tom Carr, Ypres Town Cemetery

Wreath in memory of Cpl Tom Carr, Ypres Town Cemetery

Special thanks goes to Mel Pack, researcher, who alerted us to the finding of the soldiers’ remains, and Robin Boddy who tracked down the correct Division for 3rd North Riding Brigade in early 1915, and thus the War Diary.

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