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  • Commonwealth War Graves Commmision headstone marking the grave at Foncquevillers Military Cemetery, Pas De Calais, France. Photograph courtesy of Murray Biddle.
Person Details
Sibsey, Lincolnshire
Thomas was the twin son of Henry George Cope and his wife Ann (née Howden). Henry George was born in Newark in about 1854 and his wife Ann Terrace Howden was born in Pastney, Lincolnshire, in about 1853. They were married in 1873 (reg. Louth Lincolnshire) and according to the 1911 Census (when they had been married for 37 years) they had had ten children of whom only six were still living. The census returns between 1881 and 1911 record seven children: Elizabeth b. 1878 Beeston Nottingham d. 1888 (reg. Newark); Emma b. 1881 Carlton Scroop Lincolnshire; Annie Eliza b. 1883 Carlton Scroop bap. Carlton Scroop October 1883; Ethel b. Newark birth registered 1886 (J/F/M); Henry and Thomas b. Sibsey Lincolnshire births registered 1891 (J/F/M) and James b. 1893 Cotham. In 1881 Henry senior, a railway signalman for the Great Northern Railway, was living at Carlton Lodge, Carlton Scroop, Lincolnshire, with his wife Ann and their daughter Elizabeth. Elizabeth died 7 years later in 1888 when she was 10 years old. By 1891 the couple were living on Station Road, Sibsey, Lincolnshire; Henry was still employed by GNR as a signalman. Henry and Ann now had five children: Emma, Annie, Ethel and twin sons Henry and Thomas, both four months old. Henry had moved to Cotham by 1901 and was living at Cotham Station, where he worked as a signalman, with his wife and three sons, Henry, Thomas and James. Their two eldest daughters had left home and were in domestic service. Emma was a housemaid in the household of William Roberts, a retired grocer, and his wife at Acacia House, High Road, Beeston, Nottingham, while her younger sister Ethel was a domestic servant in the household of Thomas Beecroft and his brother Albert, both toy and fancy good dealers, at 20 Zulla Road, Nottingham. The third daughter, Annie Eliza, has not yet been traced on either the 1901 or 1911 Census. Henry and his wife were still living at Cotham in 1911 but only Thomas, a labourer at a 'plaster pit', was still in the family home. Henry's three daughters and youngest son James have not yet been traced on the 1911 Census, but Henry, a railway engine cleaner, was living on Bourne Street, Netherfield, Nottingham, in the home of his uncle, James Cope and his wife Hannah. Thomas married Sarah E Bollands in 1914 (reg. Newark) and they had one child, a son Lewis Robert b. 15 May 1915. Lewis died in 1979 (reg. Manchester). Thomas' mother Ann died in 1914 (reg. Newark) at the age of 61 while his father Henry died in 1919 (reg. Nottingham) at the age of 65. A notice of Henry jnr's death in 1915 gave their father's home as Cotham but he later moved as the CWGC record gave his address as 10 New Road, Balderton, Newark.
In 1911 he was a labourer at a 'plaster pit'.
24 Jun 1916
196722 - CWGC Website
2832
He enlisted in Newark
Private
1/8th Bn Sherwood Foresters (Notts & Derby Regiment)
1/8th Bn Sherwood Foresters (Notts & Derby Regiment) A battalion of the Territorial Force, the 1/8th Bn landed in France on 25 February 1915. On 12 May it came under order of 139th Brigade, 46th (North Midland) Division. Thomas Cope served in France from 28 June 1915. The 1/8th Bn was moved from the Vimy sector in April 1916 and after a period of training at Tincques moved on 10 May to Bienvillers. There, in anticipation of the 46th Division's attack against the German trenches west of Gommecourt, opposite the village of Foncquevillers, the battalion was 'mostly engaged in improving the defences of the village, and the approach trenches behind Foncquevillers, and in work on cable trenches.' The object of the Division's attack on the German trenches, which formed the Gommecourt salient and was the most westerly point the enemy held as permanent line, was to cut off the salient. On 19 May the battalion relieved the 5th North Staffords at Foncquevillers then it in turn was relieved by the 4th Leicesters and on 7 June arrived out of line at Le Souich where it underwent demanding training for the pending attack and also formed work parties. A week later on 15 June the battalion marched to Humbercamp near Bienvillers and as it had been designated a reserve battalion in the impending assault was allocated much of the ''dirty' work' of final preparations. It was moved to Foncquevillers on the 18th where a severe thunderstorm on 23 June undid days of work that had been spent in preparing the trenches. While the battalion assisted with repairs, a pre-attack six day artillery bombardment resulted in retaliation by the enemy, 'adding to our trouble.' The quotations are from a history of the 1/8th Battalion by Captain WCC Weetman MC CdG, who also recorded that in this period 'Casualties rose rapidly, especially in B Company whose front line trench was enfiladed from Adinfer Wood.' The battalion was relieved by the 5th Bn. on 27 June and moved to Pommier. Casualties during the nine days at Foncquevillers were 44 other ranks wounded and 16 killed. Thomas was killed on 24 June 1916 and is buried in Foncquevillers Military Cemetery, France (grave ref. l.F.25). The Battle of Gommercourt began seven days later on 1 July 1916 and resulted in a defeat for the attacking force with very heavy casualties. Thomas qualified for the 1915 Star, British War Medal and Victory Medal. CWGC - History of Foncquevillers Military Cemetery (extract): The village of Foncquevillers is about 18km from Arras. 'In 1915 and 1916 the Allied front line ran between Foncquevillers and Gommecourt. The cemetery was begun by French troops, and taken over by Commonweatlh forces. It remained in use by units and field ambulances until March 1917, the burials in July 1916 (particularly in Plot I, Row L) being especially numerous ... Seventy-four graves were brought in after the Armistice from the battlefields of 1916 and 1918 to the east of the village.' (www.cwgc.org)
Thomas' twin brother, Henry served in the 2nd Bn. Bedfordshire Regiment (14460 Private) and was killed in action in France on 25 September 1915. He is buried in Vermelles British Cemetery. (See record on this Roll of Honour) Their brother James served in the 2/8th Bn Sherwood Foresters (305813 Lance Corporal) and was killed in action in France on 7 April 1917 (Vadencourt British Cemetery). (See record on this Roll of Honour) Nottingham Evening Post, ‘Roll of Honour, 17 July 1916: 'Cope, killed in action June 24th, Private T Cope, Deeply lamented by his sorrowing wife and baby.' (www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk) Nottingham Evening Post, ‘Roll of Honour, 17 July 1916: 'Cope, killed in action June 24th, Private T Cope, Sherwood Foresters, From his sorrowing sisters and brother Jim [KIA 7 April 1917].' (www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk) Nottingham Evening Post, 25 July 1916, photographs with caption: ‘Twin brothers killed in action: ‘Pvte T Cope, Sherwood Foresters, 25, Cotham, Newark killed in action June 24th, Pvte H Cope, Bedfords, killed in action Sept. 25th last, twin brothers, 44 Wilford-crescent W. Nottm.’ (www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk) Registers of Soldiers' Effects: his wife Sarah was his sole legatee.
Remembered on

Photos

  • Commonwealth War Graves Commmision headstone marking the grave at Foncquevillers Military Cemetery, Pas De Calais, France. Photograph courtesy of Murray Biddle.
    Thomas Cope - Commonwealth War Graves Commmision headstone marking the grave at Foncquevillers Military Cemetery, Pas De Calais, France. Photograph courtesy of Murray Biddle.
  • Photograph published in the Nottingham Evening Post, 25th July 1916. Courtesy of Jim Grundy and his facebook pages Small Town Great War Hucknall 1914-1918
    Thomas Cope - Photograph published in the Nottingham Evening Post, 25th July 1916. Courtesy of Jim Grundy and his facebook pages Small Town Great War Hucknall 1914-1918