Thomson William Pte 4457097
Name Thomson William
Army number 4457097
Decorations None known beyond Service Awards.
Date of birth Born Sunderland 9/9/1918. A 21st Birthday congratulatory message appeared in the Sunderland Echo on 9/9/1939 relating to William at 8 Deptford Terrace, from Granny, Aunt Bella and Uncle Bill, cousins Charlie and Margaret Warburton.
Age 22 at the time of his death.
Unit Joined The Durham Light Infantry, T, no enlistment date - but probably September/October 1939. Posted 11th Battalion DLI. Served BEF. Listed MISSING 20/6/1940. Now known to have DIED of WOUNDS in the village of FOSSEUX 21/5/40.
Platoon or other sub-unit
Task or role
Joined Brigade Probably September 1939.
Prisoner of War
Died/Killed in action 21-May-40.
Home address Resident of Sunderland. Son of William and Margaret Thomson, Deptford, Sunderland. William's mother re-married in Q3 1947. In the 1939 General Register he is identified as a Coach Painter. Initially interred on the outskirts of the village where he was fatally wounded. Re-buried Fosseux Communal Cemetery.
Source table 11DLI
The villagers of FOSSEUX, who have helped to tend the grave of Private THOMSON - the only Commonwealth War Grave in this particular cemetery, held a local exhibition to commemorate the 70th Anniversary of VE Day on 8th May 2015, and took the opportunity to honour his memory at the same time. Celebrated French historian Andre Coilliott - who lives not far from the village - was invited to take part in the ceremonies and gave a talk on the battles which took place in the area in May 1940, which are the subject of his published works.
A villager, who was an eye-witness in 1940, stated that Private THOMSON had been seeking cover on the edge of the village when he was wounded by machine-gun fire from what was probably a reconnaissance motorcycle combination driving to the village from the direction of GUOY. He died from his wounds shortly afterwards, but did express the wish to be buried where he fell. CWGC have confirmed that, having been interred in the local cemetery, his remains were not subsequently relocated to one of the consolidated cemeteries, and so he remains as the only casualty to rest in that local cemetery.
Our attempts to trace any surviving relatives of Private THOMSON - so that the villagers could invite them to take part in the ceremonies - were unfortunately unsuccessful. His parents apparently had no other children. Any relatives are welcome to contact the Lead Researcher who can provide contact information for the village. For a map of the area please click here.
On one of her monthly visits to tidy the grave, our local contact in Fosseux, Regine, realised that someone had placed memorabilia from Sunderland - items from Sunderland AFC as well as flowers and local beer - by the headstone. Clearly a visit to the grave had taken place, but we have not yet been able to ascertain if this was by a friend or a relative and, if so, who it was.
Here is what is written in the inscription on the foot of the headstone:-
Where loveliness never dies
He lives in a land of glory
Mid blue & golden skies
A series of photographs from the day are set out below - for which thanks are due to Mde Regine Verguier. Sincere appreciation is due to Regine and her neighbours for the work they have done over the years in tending this grave, in addition to the work carried out by CWGC.
In a later message Mde Verguier forwarded a photograph of Pte Thomson's temporary grave marker. The photograph had been found during a family house clearance and is now added below.