1st Bn Coldstream Guards
Buried in Essex Farm Cemetery, Ypres, Belgium (II.U.10)
THOMAS ELLIOTT was born in Ewhurst in December 1894, the son of George and Mary Elliott and younger brother to William John Elliott (b Sept 1889). In 1901 the family were living in Ellen's Green, George Elliott working as a farm labourer.
Thomas enlisted in the Army at Horsham, in West Sussex, becoming Private 13459 of the 1st Battalion Coldstream Guards (1).
In 1914 the 1st Bn Coldstreams were based at Aldershot, as part of 1st (Guards) Brigade, 1st Division. The battalion landed in Le Havre on 14th August 1914. On 25th August 1915 the battalion transferred to the 2nd Guards Brigade, Guards Division.
As Thomas was not awarded the 1914 or 1915 Star, he must have arrived in France at some time after the start of 1916. (1)
In July 1916 the 1st Bn Coldstreams were in the vicinity of the Ypres Salient. On the 2nd July the battalion was relieved from the front line trenches and made its way back to reserve billets. 2 and 3 Companies remained at 'Canal Bank' whilst 1 and 4 Companies, plus Battalion Headquarters returned to Elverdinghe Chateau. At midnight of 4th July the battalion was back in the trenches on the east of the Ypres Canal, relieving the 2nd Bn Irish Guards. They found that the trenches had been rather damaged by artillery fire, which had been the answer to a trench raid by the Irish Guards on the night of the 2nd July.
On the 6th July 1916, the battalion war diary reports "a good deal of machine gun & rifle fire during the night, fairly quiet day." Whilst the diary makes very few references to casualties throughout, it does note that at least one officer was wounded by a machine gun bullet. It is also known that Private Thomas Elliott was also killed on this day, and that his body was returned across the Ypres Canal to Essex Farm Cemetery where it lies today in grave II.U.10. Essex Farm was a dressing station built into the banks of the canal by Bridge No 4, and is famed for being the site of the writing of the poem "In Flanders Fields" by the Canadian Medical Officer Colonel John McCrae.
"In Flanders Fields"
"In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with those who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields."
Private Thomas Elliott was posthumously awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. The Ewhurst Book of Remembrance notes that he was killed in action near Pilkem, Belgium.
Andrew Bailey, Ewhurst, Surrey