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Thomas Penman

Updated: Feb 21, 2022


13141 Cpl

11th Battalion, Royal Scots,

Age: 26

Date of Death: 13.5.16

Buried: Rifle House Cemetery I.E.1

Family history: Husband of Elizabeth Hastings, Glengowan Buildings, Stirling; son of Janet Penman and of the late Thomas Penman. They had an adopted son, Thomas. Elizabeth remarried on 20 April 1918 to William Forsyth, a Stoker in the Royal Navy on HMS Venetia.

The action leading to his death

The 11th Battalion were in the line at Ploegsteert Wood, known to the Tommies as ’Plugstreet’, on the southern edge of the Ypres Salient and they were in this sector until the end of May 1916. They occupied the trenches at Le Gheer opposite a German strong point known as the ‘Birdcage’. Much of their time was spent on improving the trenches, the Regimental history records that: ’ the men flattered themselves that as a result of their efforts their trenches were the best in France.’ They also assisted the sappers of the Royal Engineers who were preparing a mine, the Regimental history speculating that this was blown with nineteen others on 7 June 1917. They were also active in No Man’s Land at night with patrols, the British liked to dominate No Man’s Land. The German snipers were very active as was regularly recorded in the War Diary. The Battalion moved in and out of the line being relieved and relieving other Battalions.

(Linesman Map)

During the morning of the 13 May the Germans heavily shelled the British front and support lines around Hampshire Trench or ’T’ to the east of Plugstreet Wood in preparation for a trench raid that evening. Hampshire T was a weak point in the British line as it ran out towards a crater and so provided a flank on which the Germans could attack.

(Linesman Map showing Hampshire T and the crater)

At 8.40pm two German raiding parties of 25 men attacked the trenches occupied by the Royal Scots. A third raiding party was seen just outside the German wire. The Germans got into the trench but were fought off the War Diary recording: ‘the enemy encountered Lt Henry and five men who shot 10 of them and the others bolted including those in Hampshire T… another German body was later found on our wire. Our casualties were about 100..’ The losses were caused mainly by the bombardment, sixteen killed, sixty one wounded and eight missing.

Lt Henry received an M.C. and three other ranks an M.M. with one other receiving a D.C.M.

Medals Awarded

1915 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal

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