9 May 2010

GREET Thomas Isaac Mockford

Rifleman 4256, 8th Battalion The London Regiment
Died of Wounds on Monday 24th April 1916
Buried: Le Treport Military Cemetery, Seine Maritime, Plot 1. Row N. Grave 2a

Thomas Greet was born in Brighton in 1878, the sixth of eight children of Bennet and Elizabeth Greet. They originally lived in Viaduct Road, Brighton, but by 1901 they had moved to Fuschia Cottage, Salt Lake, Lancing. Like his father, Tom worked as a market gardener, and was married in December 1903 to Maud Perham. Over the next thirteen years the couple had seven children, Elsie, Kathleen, Olive, Hilda, Richard, Phyllis and Ernest - the last of these he would never see. Tom became a Lancing postman, and the photograph, taken outside the Post Office in 1912, shows him as the small man on the left of the picture. The older man on the right is Robert Bartlett, the postmaster, and grandfather of Arthur Bartlett who also died during the Great War. It seems surprising that such a small village should need to employ three postmen at that time, but presumably their rounds were made on foot and it must have taken some time to reach some of the outlying farms.

Following the outbreak of war Tom enlisted into the 8th Battalion, the London Regiment (Post Office Rifles) which had been formed in Finsbury in August 1914. His service number signifies that he enlisted about the 24th July 1915,* and as he did not receive the 1914-15 Star he must have joined his battalion in France after the 31st December 1915. It has not been possible to determine when or how Tom Greet received the injuries that led to his death. Throughout the month of April the battalion was on the Somme, east of Albert in the Carnoy sector, and the battalion war diary held at The National Archives [WO95/2731] has the briefest possible entries during this period, the whole month being summed up in thirteen very short lines. It states that on 23rd April there was one other rank wounded, which is the only casualty since the 13th April. Although the 23rd was the day before Tom Greet died, it is not time enough for him to be transported to Le Tréport and for his wife to be by his side. That Maud was present suggests some time had elapsed since he was wounded, or alternatively he had succumbed to illness and was too weak to be transferred back to England. The Worthing Gazette reported his death on May 3rd 1916:

SOLDIER POSTMAN'S DEATH - Residents in South Lancing have heard with regret of the death, in hospital at the Front, of Private Thomas Isaac Mockford Greet, who, prior to the war, was engaged as postman at South Lancing. Private Greet, who was thirty-nine years of age, leaves a widow and seven children. Mrs. Greet was present when her husband died.

Maud Greet must have been a strong, resilient woman, travelling to France to be with her dying husband while heavily pregnant with their youngest child. That child, Ernest Patrick Greet was born just thirteen days after his father's death. Tom Greet is buried at Le Tréport Military Cemetery, one of 445 First World War burials.

*Thanks to Paul Nixon (keeper of the numbers!) - see comment below

Photo of Tom Greet's grave courtesy of George Whitehead


Paul Nixon said...

Hi Sue. His number dates to around the 24th July 1915.

Sue Light said...

Thanks Paul - I'll edit the entry. I'm trying to re-publish pages that were written a long time ago, and I know that there must be more to find on some of the men. I keep quoting the 1901 census knowing that I can now jump forward another ten years. I shall have to go back over a lot of things soon, but several people locally are keen for me to get the original website information back. I definitely need the 48 hour day at present.