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Capt Arthur de Bells Adam (MC)
1885 - 1916

CPL David Wallace Crawford
1887 - 1916

Lce-Corpl John Joseph Nickle
1894 - 1916

Pte 17911 Morton Neill
1897 - 1916

Lieut Edward Stanley Ashcroft
1883 - 1918
Lieut Edward Stanley Ashcroft

Pte 17802 Thomas Colyer

  • Age: 33
  • From: Liverpool
  • Regiment: The King's (Liverpool Regiment) 19th Btn
  • K.I.A Tuesday 11th July 1916
  • Commemorated at: Thiepval Memorial
    Panel Ref: P&F1D8B &8 C.

Thomas Colyer was born in Toxteth Park, Liverpool, on 18th November 1882.  His parents, Henry Thomas Colyer, born in London, and Mary Ellen Adams, from Liverpool, married in 1870 in Liverpool, and had ten children, three of whom died in infancy.  Thomas was the fourth of the surviving seven children; his siblings were Phoebe, Harvey, Henrietta, William, Alexander, and Frederick. 

His father received recognition from the Liverpool Shipwreck and Humane Society in 1875  for jumping into the Prince’s Dock to rescue a man who had fallen in. 

Thomas was baptised in St. Thomas, Toxteth, on 06th December 1882, his parents living at 287 Grafton Street, and his father’s occupation labourer.

In 1891 the family is living at 17 Beamish Street, Toxteth.  His father is  a 43 year old dock checker born in London,his  mother Mary E. is 41 years old and was born in Liverpool. Thier children all born Liverpool are shown as; Harvey 15, Henrietta 13, Thomas 8, William 5, Alexander 1. Also in the household is his married sister Phoebe, with her husband and child. 

In 1901 and 1911 his parents are living at 27 Gwydir Street, with his siblings William, Alexander, and Frederick.  His father is a receiver of cargo, steamship company, retired by 1911.  Thomas cannot be found on the 1901 census.

On 27th September 1908, when he was 25 years old, Thomas married Frances Louise Trapnell, in All Saints Church, Princes Park, giving his occupation as checker, and residence as 45 Asbridge Street, Toxteth Park. 

In 1911 Thomas, 28, and Frances, 26, are living at 50 Micawber Street, with their one year old son Herbert Frederick, born on 25th August 1909.  Thomas is employed as a bargeman. 

Thomas enlisted in Liverpool on 4th (crossed out  and replaced with 5th) September 1914, as Private 17802, 19th (Pals) Battalion of The King’s Liverpool Regiment. He gave his age as 31 years and 300 days, and his occupation as clerk.  He is described as being 5’6” tall, weighing 134 lbs, with a fresh complexion, blue eyes, and brown hair. He stated his religion as Church of England and gave his next of kin, as his wife, Frances Louise Colyer, at 25 Dorrit Street.

Formed on 07th September 1914 the 19th Battalion trained locally at Sefton Park and remained living at home or in rented accommodation until November 1914. They then moved to the hutted accommodation at Lord Derby’s estate at Knowsley Hall. On 30th April 1915 the 19th Battalion alongside the other three Pals battalions left Liverpool via Prescot Station for further training at Belton Park, Grantham. They remained here until September 1915 when they reached Larkhill Camp on Salisbury Plain

Whilet training locally, his daughter Jessie Louisa was born, on 13th November 1914.   

Thomas disembarked in Boulogne with his battalion on 7th November 1915.

In the new year the Pals battalions take up position in the south of the Somme line near Carnoy.  Whilst there, Thomas received the news that his 17-month old daughter Jessie had died, on 16th April 1916, from broncho-pneumonia.  Shortly after his daughter’s death, Thomas was granted leave to the UK, from 11th  to 22nd of May.  On his return, the battalion moves to Abbeville for specialist training for the ‘Big Push’.

The 19th Battalion was in reserve as a carrier battalion for the Brigade on 01st July 1916 but still suffered casualties so it is probable that Thomas was involved during the liberation of Montauban. Following the success the Pals were then tasked with helping to rid Trones Wood of the Germans.

The murderous fighting that went on inside Trones Wood rendered it impossible to put specific dates on some of the casualties which is why many of the 17th Battalion losses have been bracketed as killed in action between 10th – 12th July 1916.The conditions are best described in the following passage from Everard Wyrall’s book The History of The King’s Regiment (Liverpool) Volume II. 

The remembrance of Trones Wood in July 1916 to those who passed through it is of a noisome, horrible place, of a tangled mass of trees and undergrowth which had been tossed and flung about in frightful confusion by the shells of both sides. Of the ghastly dead which lay about in all directions, and of DEATH, lurking in every hole and corner with greedy hands ready to snatch the lives of the unwary. The place was Death trap, and although the attacks were made with great determination,   the presence of snipers who could not be detected and often fired into the backs of our men made the clearing of the wood impossible.

His service record shows that Thomas was declared Missing, believed wounded, on 11th July, but later that day declared killed in action and buried near Bernafay Wood, sadly his body was subsequently lost, and he is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial.

The Thiepval Memorial, the Memorial to the Missing of the Somme, bears the names of more than 72,000 officers and men of the United Kingdom and South African forces who died in the Somme sector before 20 March 1918 and have no known grave. Over 90% of those commemorated died between July and November 1916. 

On 01st August 1932 the Prince of Wales and the President of France inaugurated the Thiepval Memorial in Picardy. The inscription reads: “Here are recorded the names of officers and men of the British Armies who fell on the Somme battlefields between July 1915 and March 1918 but to whom the fortune of war denied the known and honoured burial given to their comrades in death.”

Thomas earned his three medals, which Frances signed for, as well as his Memorial Plaque and Scroll.  The 1914-15 Star was returned for his misspelled surname to be corrected.  

Frances received a pension of £1 9s 0d a week for herself and her child.  Frances lost both her daughter and her husband with three months.  His son was six years old when Thomas was killed.

Thomas’ family placed an In Memoriam notice in the Liverpool Echo on 11th July 1917:  

“In loving memory of Private Thomas Colyer, 19th King’s Liverpool (3rd Pals), killed in action 11th July 1916.  Never forgotten by his Wife, Father, Mother, Sister, and Brothers. (A true patriot who gave his all for the cause of freedom.)”

Thomas' loss was not the only one that the family had to enure. His youngest brother Frederick served in the Royal Field Artillery as Bombardier 685285 and was killed in action on 25th August 1917, aged 21. He now rests at Buffs Road Cemetery, in Belgium, where his headstone bears the inscription:


His brother William served as Lance Corporal 23070, 20th Bn K.L.R., and was awarded the Military Medal.  He was discharged in 1917 with neurasthenia (shell shock) and received a Silver War Badge.

His mother died in 1920, aged 70, and his father in 1925, aged 77.  

His widow Frances never remarried and after the war she lived at 67 Beresford Road, Dingle. She died in 1969, aged 83.  

His son Herbert served in the Merchant Navy in World War 2, and lived until 1986.

Thomas and Frederick are both commemorated on Liverpool Town Hall’s Hall of Remembrance, Panel 8 Left.

Killed On This Day.

(108 Years this day)
Tuesday 18th July 1916.
Pte 27346 John Mawdsley
34 years old

(106 Years this day)
Thursday 18th July 1918.
Cpl 106108 William Alexander Unsworth
38 years old