Regiment: 9th Battalion, Royal Sussex Regiment
Service No.: G/3372
Date and place of birth: 1st qtr 1893 at Terwick, Rogate, Sussex
Date and place of death: 25 September 1915 (aged 22) at Loos-en-Gohelle, France
Thomas Putman was one of two men from Trotton killed in the Battle of Loos on 25 September 1915.
Thomas Graham Putman was born in Terwick in early 1893, the youngest of nine children of William Putman (1843–1924) and his wife Elizabeth née Croucher (1850–1924). William, an agricultural labourer, had been born in Rogate and married Elizabeth, from East Meon in Hampshire, in the summer of 1874. Their first child, also Elizabeth was born the following year; of their later children, three died in infancy.
At the time of Thomas’s birth, the family were living at Chases near St. Peter’s Church in Terwick, but by 1911 they had moved to Fern Bank off the Midhurst Road, when Thomas was employed as a domestic gardener. His sister, Ellen, had died the previous October, a few days after giving birth to twins, Ellen and William (Woolford).
Thomas enlisted in the Royal Sussex Regiment at Midhurst in September 1914, being allocated to the 9th (Service) Battalion. The battalion was shipped to France on 31 August 1915 as part of the 73rd Brigade, 24th Division.
Death and commemoration
By late September, the battalion were in the Bethune area when the allies launched an attack on the German lines around Loos-en-Gohelle, starting on 25 September. As the 24th Division were inexperienced and exhausted from being constantly on the move for several weeks, they were initially kept in reserve but with the 2nd Division suffering heavy losses they were ordered to reinforce their colleagues in the early afternoon. By 5.00pm, they had been routed by the Germans with heavy losses and the remaining men were ordered to retreat. Once they had regrouped, they made a night march a few miles south in readiness for a further attack the following day.
The Royal Sussex Regiment lost over 250 men on 25 September 1915, including 64 from the 9th Battalion. Altogether, the Battle of Loos resulted in 61,000 allied casualties, with 7,700 men being killed.
Pte. Thomas Putman was one of many whose body was never recovered and is among 20,600 men commemorated on the Loos Memorial at the heart of the battlefield. He is also commemorated on the Trotton War Memorial, along with Frederick Boniface who was killed on the same day.