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Person Details
04 Sep 1892
Manchester
He was the son of Herbert, a commercial traveller, and Sarah Phethean of 8 Addison Street and later 11 Park Avenue Mapperley Road, Mapperley Park (both Nottingham). He was the brother of James Phethean.
07 Aug 1916
24
2946044 - CWGC Website
17384
Corporal
10th Bn Sherwood Foresters (Notts & Derby Regiment)
On 28th July the entire infantry of 17th Division paraded for Major-General P R Robertson and medals were presented. On 1st August 1916 the 17th Division relieved the 21st holding the north-east corner of Delville Wood to the eastern outskirts of High Wood. The 51st Brigade, and the 10th Sherwoods, as part of it moved to the vicinity of the Pommier Redoubt. Their accommodation was a plain system of trenches on some rising ground from which a distant view of Delville Wood was obtained. Bivouacs were made in the trenches and a few lucky people had ‘Hun beds – low, wooden things with criss-cross iron slates, a very doubtful luxury!’ Also notable in these trenches were rats who ‘introduced’ themselves ‘in wholesale quantities’. On the night 5th/6th August the 51st Brigade relieved the 52nd Brigade. The 10th Sherwoods relieved the 9th Duke of Wellington’s who were holding Longueval and the north-west portion of Delville Wood. Conditions in this part of the line were very bad with a strong stench, flies and filth. The weather was extremely hot and the enemy artillery also continuously active – there was no possibility of clearing the dead from the battlefield. ‘Corpses in all stages of putrefaction were lying everywhere, and all day the sun blazed down and the flies grew fat and sleepy with the vile reek of the place.’ The positions held by the battalion in the wood were merely a series of shell holes in the undergrowth, trench digging being impossible due to the tangled tree roots. On 6th August, enemy posts were reported inside Delville Wood. The 7th Borders made several attacks on 7th August with the objective of clearing the wood entirely. 10th Sherwoods supported these attacks. However, these proved unsuccessful, the only gain being the establishment of some advanced posts by the Sherwoods. The chief defence of the enemy against these attacks appeared to be machine guns carefully concealed in some standing corn and it was impossible to locate them. During this fighting Corporal Thomas Phethean was killed. He is buried at London Cemetery and Extension, High Wood, Longueval, though he also used to be commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial which may indicate that his body was only found some years after the end of the war. His family originally came from Manchester, before moving to Nottingham where Thomas attended the High School. The battalion was relieved on the night of 8th/9th August. The history records ‘two worrying days in the vilest of places had made the men very tired’.
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