Researched and written by Anne Wright
L/Cpl T W Buckler
Prince Albert’s (Somerset Light Infantry)
Killed in action, 22.8.1917
Thomas William Buckler was born in Weybridge in 1886. His parents, John (1847-1912) and Alice Ada, nee Mingay (1858-1930) were married at St. James’ Church in the town on 3 October 1879. John was a native of the Isle of Wight and Alice of Nayland, Suffolk. He was a house painter and the couple had eleven children, six daughters and five sons. In 1891 the family lived in Gascoigne Road, Weybridge and by 1901 they had moved to 9, Walton Road, Woking. At this point Thomas William, a former pupil of St James’ School (Baker Street), was a gardener’s boy, having just started his working life. By the time he married Margaret McKenzie at St. James’ Church on 8 January 1916 he had moved back to Weybridge and was living at 10, Calvert Cottages. Thomas was an auxiliary worker for the renowned builder W. G. Tarrant. Margaret was the daughter of a hotel-keeper.
Thomas enlisted in Weybridge. Initially he was in the Royal Fusiliers (G/36081) and then transferred to the 6th Battalion, Prince Albert’s (Somerset Light Infantry) which was formed in Taunton in 1914. It was part of the 43rd Brigade in the 14th (Light) Infantry Division which went into combat in 1915. The Division first saw action in Belgium in the actions at Hooge, then participated in the Battle of the Somme in 1916, the Arras Offensive in spring 1917 and in the third Battle of Ypres (commonly referred as the Battle of Passchendaele) which began in the late summer of 1917. The objectives of this battle were to break out of the Ypres salient and to advance to the north and north-east of the city with the intention of cutting the Germans off from Belgian ports.
Thomas and his comrades marched to Ouderdom and then to the Dickebusch Huts on 17 August. From there they went into the front line south of Menin three days later in anticipation of an attack on the strongly held Inverness Copse on 22 August. The leading waves reached the edge of the copse with relatively few casualties, however, by 8.30 am Companies 1, 2 and 4 reported that they were seriously depleted and asked for support. 3 Company was sent in. An hour later this company was reporting that it was being forced to withdraw to avoid being surrounded. They were facing extremely fierce enemy machine gun fire. The Germans sent in reinforcements but somehow they were held back by Lewis Gun and machine gun fire. There was even hand to hand fighting in one area. At midnight Thomas’ battalion was ordered to fall back to support the western edge of the copse. They were relieved on the night of 24/25 March. During these few days the battalion’s casualties amounted to 19 officers and 325 other ranks; Thomas was one of the 48 who were killed.
He is buried in Tyne Cot Cemetery, 9 km north-east of Ypres (now Ieper). This is the largest British and Commonwealth cemetery in the world. Of the 11,956 buried there Thomas is one of the 3,588 to have been identified. His mother had returned to Weybridge by the time of her death in January 1930.
The British Army in the Great War of 1914-1918, The Long, Long Trail – 14th (Light) Infantry Division, www.longlongtrail.co.uk
England & Wales, Civil Registration Birth Index, 1837-1915, www.ancestry.co.uk
Memorial to the Masters and Old Boys of St James’ School, Weybridge, Who Fell in the Great War, 1914-1918, St James’ Church
Surrey, England, Church of England Marriages, 1754-1937, www.ancestry.co.uk
UK, Soldiers Died in the Great War, 1914-1919, www.ancestry.co.uk