Thomas Henry Spanton, Age 32
Second Lieutenant, R/7689, 3rd Battalion, King's Royal Rifle Corps.
Thomas is another name that I must add to the list of the fallen who had either been born in Dawley or resided there at the time of their enlistment.
I came across Thomas Spanton by sheer accident whilst looking at a web page, Having researched further, Thomas was a native of Dawley being the son of Reverend Emery and Elizabeth Spanton. However, at the time of his enlistment their address is given as 31, Brenton Rd, Hereford. However Thomas’s occupation at the time of his enlistment is given as a ‘Hunter’ !!.
His DCM citation in the London Gazette (30th Jun 1915) read: Lance Corporal (Acting Sergeant) J.H.Spanton, 3rd Battalion, King’s Royal Riﬂe Corps; “ For Conspicuous gallantry on 15th Feb 1915 in going out by daylight under ﬁre to bring in wounded men; also for consistent good work and gallant conduct” he was also awarded the Russian, Cross of St. George 4th Class — London Gazette 1915. “For service in the ﬁeld”.
His commanding ofﬁcer’s original recommendation states:
“I beg to report Coy SM Clay 1156 — L.Sergt J.Spanton 7679 and Rﬂ Largen 61 70 for gallant behaviour on the morning of the 15th Feb 1915 at St Eloi. A party of six stretcher bearers carrying wounded men from the ﬁring line came under heavy and sustained riﬂe ﬁre. The bearers left their stretchers and ran to cover leaving Pte Wright of C company, D. C.L.I (shot through the Knee) and Pte A Stevenson 5699 D. C.L.I (shot in the stomach) lying in open heavy rifle ﬁre. Spanton, Largen and Clay rushed across the exposed ﬁre zone, some 50 yards and carried into cover stretcher bearer Pte Wright, under heavy riﬂe ﬁre. Pte Stevenson who was lying beside Pte Wright was found to be dead so was not carried in till dark. L. Sergt Spanton, Coy SM Clay and Rﬂ E.Largen have on several occasions done noticeably good work, Showing fearlessness, resource and devotion to duty”.
James Henry Spanton was a native of Dawley, Shropshire and described as a ‘Hunter’ in Rhodesia at the time of his enlistment into the K.R.R.C on Nov 18th 1914. He embarked for France on Dec 21st 1914 and was commissioned into the 3rd Battalion K.R. R. C on the 16th May 1915. He died of wounds on July 2nd 1915, having been mortally wounded the previous night In the Armentieres district of Ypres.
His obituary appeared in the K.R.R. C Chronicle and read;
“Thomas Spanton was killed in action on July 1st 1915 (He actually died of wounds on the 2nd). He was the son of the Rev. E Spanton, of Hereford and had previously served with the C.M.R in the Boer War (Although no record of this service can be found) He joined the 3rd Battalion at Winchester, as one of the Rhodesia platoons. He was promoted Sergeant and afterwards received his commission, he remained in command of his platoon. An elephant hunter by profession, he had accounted for 93 in addition to other big game. He was a delightful and most interesting companion, although his modesty made it difficult to extract his experiences. Cool to a rare degree, he volunteered for every risky venture; few Distinguished Conduct Medals were more thoroughly earned than that Spantonfortunately lived long enough to know he had been granted. It seems doubly hard that, having come through unscathed through so many dangers, he should fall through a chance unaimed bullet by night some distance in the rear of the ﬁre trench. A very gallant soldier, deeply missed by those who knew him, beloved by his platoon, his memory will ever remain green and his example be prized as long as those who knew him are spared to continue the struggle. Three friends joined together from Rhodesia — Thomas Spanton, Sergeant Hunter, and riﬂeman McCay, all splendid examples of the Englishman overseas. All three have now fallen, and all three from chance bullets. Perhaps the best and most apt epitaph was said by Spanton ’s platoon sergeant, himself a man who had fought in many out of the way parts of Africa, who, as the torch was turned on the dead man ’s face, and we knew the end had come, turned aside and said, “Spanton had the heart of a Lion”.
Thomas’s promotion was announced in the London Gazette on the 16th May 1915 as follows: Kings Royal Riﬂe Corps: Lance — Serjeant Thomas Henry Spanton to be temporary Second Lieutenant for service in the ﬁeld!
Then on 22nd June 1916 nearly a year after his death an announcement appeared
stating that Thomas had been awarded his DCM:
R7689 Lance - Corporal (Acting Serjeant) T H Spanton 3rd Battalion, KRRC
Photo courtesy of The War Graves Photographic Project
Inscription added to head stone by: Mr. E. Spanton, 31, Brenton Road, Hereford.
Until The Day Break
WWI Medal Rolls Index Card
|Victory Medal||British War Medal||1914-15 Star Medal||Distinguished Conduct Medal|