Private Thomas SIDEBOTHAM
[SIDEBOTTOM on CWGC Records]

Regiment/Service:
Sherwood Foresters
(Notts and Derby Regiment)
Unit:
1/6th Battalion
Service Number:
2010
Date of Death:
1 July 1916 - Killed in Action
(First day Battle of The Somme)
Age:
17
Cemetery / Memorial:
Grave Number:
I. L. 42

Personal History:
Thomas was born in the June quarter 1898, the son of Charles (Limestone Quarryman) and Sarah Hannah (née Mullins) Sidebotham of 65 Brick Row, Dove Holes, Buxton. He had two older siblings, Henry Scorer and Ellen. (1901 Census RG 13/3272).

Ten years later (1911 Census RG 14/21263) Thomas had just gained twin sisters, Gladys and Florence, and the family were living in Post Office Road, Peak Dale, Buxton. At the time of his enlistment he stood 5 ft. 3½ ins. (1.61 m.) 


Military History:
Thomas enlisted into the 6th Battalion, Sherwood Foresters (Notts and Derby Regiment),
at Peak Dale, nr. Buxton, on 19th June 1913, so was a serving soldier at the time War
broke out. At that time the 6th was a Territorial Force Battalion. Thomas gave his age as
17 years 1 month, although his birth record suggests he was only just turned 15. He had
two weeks training at Clumber Park on the 27th July to 10th August 1913.

Thomas' War Service commenced on 5th August 1914 and his
record shows he was transferred to "Imperial Service Unit" on the
19th January 1915. 

[N.B. When Territorial Force troops agreed to overseas service, they signed the "Imperial
Service Obligation". They were then issued with a special badge, known as the "Imperial
Service Brooch", to be worn on their right breast.] Thomas' Service papers contain copies
of his signed document.

His Service Papers also show that Thomas sailed from Southampton and entered France at Le Havre on 28th February 1915 along with 547 other Officers and men. In May 1916 the 46th Division, including James' Battalion, moved towards the training areas in preparation  for the attack on the 1st July - The Battle of The Somme.

In the latter part of June 1916, in preparation for the coming Battle, Thomas' Battalion found itself digging advanced trenches with the 7th Battalion and suffering "... rather heavy M.G. fire and shelling." This caused the death of one of Thomas' comrades, from nearby Dove Holes, Derbyshire, Lance Sergeant 2211 George Naden, was killed on the 23rd and is buried near to Thomas in Foncquevillers Military Cemetery.

Two days before the Battle, on the 30th June, the Battalion was relieved in the trenches by the 5th and 7th Battalions "... drew stores preparatory to attack on German trenches."

The operational orders for the 1/6th Battalion were issued on the 30th June by Lieutenant Colonel
G. D. Goodman placed "A" Company in the 1st support line with their right on Stafford Avenue; "B"
Company in the same support line with their left on Raymond Avenue; "C" Company in the 3rd
support line with their left to Raymond Avenue, and "D" Company also in the 3rd support line with
right on Stafford Avenue. [see Map on right]

The initial attacks by the1/5th and 1/7th Battalions failed to break through the German lines so it was
decided that the 1/6th Battalion should launch a second attack at 12.15 p.m. After being postponed
until 1.30 p.m. the Battalion attacked at 3.30 p.m. The preliminary bombardment, supplemented with
a smoke screen, however, proved totally inadequate and at the last moment the orders for an attack
were rescinded. Unfortunately this message was not received in time by one platoon, which advanced
towards Gommecourt Wood, only to suffer severe casualties.

The Battalion War Diary for the 1st July reads:
"FONCQUEVILLERS
139 Bde. attacked on a front from N.E. corner GOMMECOURT WOOD to point of LIITLE Z. 5th & 9th Bns. assaulted in 4 waves of 3 Coys, remaining Coys of each Bn carrying bombs, S.A.A. & material. The 6th Bn also carried - 'A' & 'B' on fron in 2 waves to follow 5th & 7th Bn carrying Coys, and 'D' & 'C' in 2 waves to remain in old front trench and retrenchements until ordered to advance.

The first 3 waves of assault carried 1st, and to some extent 2nd and 3rd German trenches under partial cover of smoke, but owing to very muddy state of our trenches, part of 4th wave and greater part of 5th & 7th Bn carrying Coys could not away before smoke lifted, and all attempts to advance by these and 6th 'A' & 'B' Coys were met by heavy artillery and machine gun barrage.

The attack (as also that of 137th Bde against GOMMECOURT WOOD) therefore failed with heavy losses to assaulting Battns, but the main object was achieved of containing enemy forces near GOMMECOURT."

The Diary then names one Officer (Lieut. M. E. Jellicoe), and 3 N.C.O.s killed in action "... and 17 others ...", the wounded Officers, three of whom subsequently died of wounds, and 140 Other Ranks wounded.

On the evening of the 1st July, about 8.00 p.m., the Battalion was withdrawn from the line and marched to billets at Fonquevillers and Warlincourt, arriving on the 2nd. After 10 days rest in Divisional reserve the Battalion moved back to the Front line, replacing the 5th Battalion South Lancashire Regiment on 11th July.


                                   

The CWGC Records show that the total Battalion casualties for the 1st July was 166, many of whom were killed during the German bombardment of the front line and assembly trenches. These men are buried in graves of Plot I. L. in Foncquevillers Military Cemetery. As this is where Thomas is buried it is most likely that he was killed in action during the initial bombardment. He shares his grave with Pt. 3251 Harry Gill, Lincolnshire Regiment, and L/Cpl. 4142 C. J. Stubbs, 5th Battalion Sherwood Foresters, who lost their lives on the same day.

Thomas' Headstone, along with all other CWGC Records, shows his name spelled "SidebotTOm".
However, his Service Papers confirm the Censuses spelling of "SidebotHAm".

In all Thomas had served 3 years 13 days with the Colours. His personal effects consisting of
"Testament, comb, pencil, belt, cards, photos" were returned to his mother, Sarah, on the
18th December 1916.

143 of the Officers and men of the 1/6th Battalion who died have no known grave and are
commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial. The 1/6th sister Battalions 1/5th and 1/7th suffered
similar losses of 167 and 171 respectively killed in action, most of whom also have no known
grave.

Footnotes:
· There are some reports that show that Thomas' brother, Henry, was also wounded on the same day,
   but these records may refer to a different set of brothers, from Chapel-en-le-Frith.

Sources:
· "Chesterfield Sherwoods on the Somme" - 1/6th (Territorial) Battalion, Nottingham and Derbyshire Regiment
   (Sherwood Foresters)
· "Men of the High Peak: A History of the 1/6th Battalion the Sherwood Foresters 1914-18" - Capt. W D Jamieson
   (ISBN-10: 0952964864) Miliquest Publications (1 Oct 2004)
· "Slaughter on the Somme - 1 July 1916" - Martin Mace & John Grehan [ISBN 978-1-84884-770-5] p. 77


Link to CWGC Record
Thomas Sidebotham's grave
The postcard shows 'C' Company (Ashbourne and Buxton) at Clumber Park in 1913. It is likely this was Thomas' Coy. and he is on the picture.
Part of the Peak Dale Memorial
Thomas' name on the Peak Dale Memorial
Trench Map 1 July 1916
Battalion positions on 1 July 1916
poppy
... about the 6th Battalion at The Somme