Monday, December 15, 2008

Men called Thomas Connor in WW2

Headstone of Driver Thomas Connor, RASC at Cleator Cumbria
One of two Thomas Connors from Cleator Moor who died during WW2
Yet another Thomas Connor from the area lost his life during WW1
The name Thomas Connor is listed twice on the Second World War Roll of Honour for the West Cumbrian town of Cleator Moor. There is yet another Thomas Connor listed among the Fallen of Cleator Moor from the First World War. Whether there is a family connection between these three servicemen linked to the same town for the present I do not know what they are.

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Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

Additional information

The Thomas Connor who died during WW1 is mentioned in the War Memorial at St Mary's, Cleator. There are a number of WW1 casualties by the name of Thomas Connor listed in the Commonwealth War Graves Commission records. Unfortunately, at present I have been unable to identify which is Thomas Connor is linked to the Cleator Moor area. However, in 1896 there was a Thomas Connor baptised at St Mary's R.C. Church, Cleator. This Thomas Connor was the son of Thomas Connor and Mary Ann Connor. This may be the person who is remembered on the church war memorial, but at this time it is just a conjecture.

More details are known about the two Thomas Connors who lost their lives during WW2. Both of them died in 1944. Firstly, Private Thomas Connor, 3604992, 2nd Battalion The Border Regiment died aged 29 on 13 May 1944. He is buried in Imphal War Cemetery, India (Grave Ref: 5.G.16). Secondly, Driver Thomas Connor, T/159483, Royal Army Supply Corps died aged 26 on 8 December 1944. He is buried in St Mary's R.C. Churchyard, Cleator, Cumbria.

These are further details about the WW2 Thomas Connors:

1. Private Thomas Connor, 3604992, 2nd Battalion The Border Regiment

Private Thomas Connor was the son of John Connor and Winifred Connor of Church, Lancashire (previously of Wyndham Street, Cleator Moor). Since January 1943 the 2nd Battalion The Border Regiment had formed part of the 110th Brigade, itself part of the 20th Indian Division. In May 1944 the 20th Division was involved in the defence of Imphal, India against a Japanese force in an especially ferocious battle. The Japanese were attempting to take Imphal before the monsoon set in.

The Regimental records of the Border Regiment record that between 10 May and 14 May 1944 the Battalion was in a forward position and "... subjected to heavy and accurate artillery fire, which caused constant casualties among all the companies". Unfortunately, on 13 May one of these casualties was 3604992 Private Thomas Connor. He was interred in Imphal War Cemetery. On 14 May 1944 - the day after Private Connor lost his life - the 20th Division was relieved from this part of the Front by the 23rd Division.

2. Driver Thomas Connor, T/159483, RASC

Driver Thomas Connor was the son of Thomas Connor and Mary Ann Connor of Cleator Moor. Driver Thomas Connor is the only one of the three servicemen mentioned in this article to be buried in his homeland. The citation inscribed on Thomas Connor's headstone in St Mary's Churchyard, Cleator suggests it was chosen by a sister or brother rather than one of his parents. It reads as follows:

"In Loving Memory
Of my dear brother
On whose soul
Sweet Jesus have mercy".

3. The songwriter Thomas Connor from WW2

There was another Thomas (or Tommy) Connor who was a songwriter during the Second World War. This Tommy Connor is perhaps most famous for writing the words to the first English language version of the German song ‘Lile Marlene’. However, so far as I am aware there is no family link to the Thomas Connors from West Cumbria. It is just coincidental that they share the same name.

Monday, 15 December, 2008  
Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

Thanks to a recent visit to the Northumberland Fusiliers Museum and Archives at Alnwick Castle, Northumberland I have now been able to identify the Thomas Connor from Cleator Moor who lost his life in the First World War. As I have previously mentioned him in the initial posting of this article, here are his details:

Private Thomas Connor, Service No 27/853, 27th Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers (also known as the 4th Battalion ‘Tyneside Irish’, part of the ‘Tyneside Irish’ Brigade), died 1 July 1916. This was the first day of the Battle of the Somme. His address was 24 Wyndham Street, Cleator Moor.

In 1914 many of the ‘Irish Catholic’ men from the Cleator & Cleator Moor area volunteered for the ‘Tyneside Irish’ Brigade. At that time most of the Irish Catholic families would probably have regarded themselves as ‘Irish’ rather than ‘British’ or ‘English’. Hence, they preferred to serve with other Irish immigrants rather than the local regiments, which in the case of Cleator Moor would have been the Border Regiment.

In WW1 a Committee offered to raise a Brigade of ‘Tyneside Irish’ (also covering other parts of Northern England such as West Cumberland. This was accepted by the Government. In WW2 an offer was made by some of the WW1 Committee still alive to raise a similar ‘Irish’ Brigade from ‘expat’ Irishmen or those from ‘Irish’ families. However, this offer was not taken up by the British Government for the 1939 – 1945 war.

Thursday, 05 August, 2010  

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