Private Thomas Boswell

Regiment:  8th Battalion East Surrey
Service No: 28180
Date and place of birth: 3rd qtr 1888 in Midhurst, Sussex
Date and place of death:   30 September 1916 in France or Flanders 

Thomas and his cousin William Boswell were both killed in action, they were the sons of brothers George and James Boswell and grandsons of John and Jane Boswell, who lived in Duck Lane, Midhurst

Family background

Thomas Boswell was born in 1888 in Midhurst, the son of James and Thamar Boswell, nee Francis, who married in Horsham in 1877.  He was their youngest son and was baptised 12 August 1888 in Midhurst Parish Church.  In 1891 he was living with his parents and five siblings in Duck Lane, Midhurst.  In 1901 he was still living in Duck Lane, was 12 years of age, in a household headed by Kate R Francis (27) and included Elizabeth Boswell (23) and Jim Boswell (19).  Elizabeth, Jim and Thomas are listed as half siblings to Kate Francis. She was Thamar Boswell’s daughter and had (presumably ?) taken over the household as James Boswell died, aged 50, in 1898 and Thamar Boswell was a patient at Grayling Wells (sic) in Chichester, where she was listed as a widow aged 51.  She died in 1910, aged 59.

Military service

Thomas Boswell enlisted in Chichester.

Seven Service Battalions were raised as part of Kitchener’s Army. The 10th & 11th were used for auxiliary and recruiting purposes but the 7th, 8th, 9th, 12th and 13th were sent to France. 8th (Service) Battalion of the East Surrey Regiment was originally formed in Kingston-upon-Thames, Surrey in August 1914 at the very start of the War. They saw action at Albert, Bazentin Ridge and Delville Wood. In the regimental museum in Kingston, is exhibited one of the footballs that ‘B’ Company of the 8th Battalion, kicked into No Man’s Land specifically to annoy the Germans during the attack on Montauban on 1 July 1916. On that day, although their objectives were secured, 446 men were killed, wounded or taken prisoner and the Battalion won two DSO’s, two MC’s, two DCM’s, nine Military Medals. Thomas Boswell was killed on the last day of the offensive (23 to 30 September) to take the strategically important high ground of Thiepval. He was one of 4,000 casualties suffered by the 18th Division. He was awarded Victory and British medals.

Death and commemoration

He was killed in action.  He is buried at the Departement de la Somme, Picardie, France.  He is commemorated on Midhurst War Memorial, Memorial Panels in Midhurst Parish Church, and Thiepval Memorial, Pier and Face 6B and 6C.

Thiepval Memorial
Thiepval Memorial
Thiepval Memorial Thomas Boswell
Thiepval Memorial Thomas Boswell

Subsequent family history

Elizabeth Boswell married Ernest A Denman 1924/25 in the Midhurst district. Their son William E Denman was born a year later.

Midhurst U3A WW1 War Memorial Project