War Memorials in Sowerby, North Yorkshire

Thomas Edward Banks

1894/5 - 2nd May 1915 (age 21)

Private 1562
4th Bn. Yorkshire Regiment

In 1911, the Banks family were living at South Terrace, and Thomas was the third of four sons. Their father William, a railway clerk, and his wife Margaret were natives of Husthwaite and Helperby respectively. It appears that the family had settled at Brafferton Helperby, which is where Thomas enlisted into the army, his parents later giving the village as their address.

At the outbreak of war, Thomas was probably a member of the Territorial Army, at least his low regimental number 1562, indicates early enlistment. He went to France on 18th April 1915 with a territorial battalion, 4th Yorkshires.

They had little time to acclimatise before they were in action later that month in front of Ypres in Belgium. The medieval town of Ypres was important to the Allies, if it fell, then the Channel ports were likely to fall also. The British had made a stand there in the First Battle of Ypres in 1914 but in so doing they created a salient or a bulge in the line. The Ypres salient was to become notoriously dangerous, being over-looked by the enemy from the front and on both flanks. In the Second Battle of Ypres the Germans attacked at St.Julien, where they used poison gas for the first time. The 4th Yorkshires suffered under a gas attack on 1st May and they were attacked again on the following day with total losses during this period 34 killed and 74 wounded.

Thomas was one of those killed, he had survived just 14 days overseas and is remembered on panel 33 of the Menin Gate Memorial along with over 54,000 officers and men who have no known grave. Menin Gate is one of four memorials covering the Ypres salient, the location for the memorial was chosen because hundreds of thousands of men would have passed through it on their way to the battlefield, many of them never to return.

Thomas is also remembered on the village memorial at Brafferton Helperby.

The medals of Thomas Edward Banks include 1915 star, Victory medal and British War medal and they are stored at the Green Howards (Yorkshire Regiment) Regimental museum at Richmond where they were donated by Mr M. Banks of Darlington. Attempts to contact Mr. Banks failed because he had not been known since 1988 at the address given. Reginald Banks, an elder brother of Thomas served with the 11th Bn. Yorkshire Regiment and he survived the war.

The information on this page was compiled by Steve Billings.

Information about Thomas Edward Banks on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website

Information about Thomas Edward Banks on the War Graves Photographic Project website

Information about Thomas Edward Banks on the Yorkshire Regiment - First World War Remembrance website

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