Private Thomas Haydon, 23rd Battalion, Duke of Cambridge’s Own (Middlesex) Regiment, died of wounds in Woking Hospital on 21st November 1918, aged 19. He was born in the Kings Norton district c.1899 and was the younger of the two sons of parents Alfred Charles (a labourer) and Jane (née Reason) who had married in 1890.
By 1891, the family was living in Monkspath Street, and the eldest son – William Frederick (born 1891) – attended Shirley School. By 1901, the family had moved to Tom Hill, Tanworth-in-Arden, with Jane dying in 1910, aged 43. The 1911 census shows 11-year-old Thomas as an inmate in Solihull Union Workhouse. We don’t know whether his father had died, or whether he couldn’t support his son after the death of his wife.
Records of admissions and discharges to Solihull Workhouse haven’t survived, so we don’t know when Thomas left the Workhouse or what he did after leaving. It’s possible that he would have been apprenticed by the parish when he reached the age of 14, or he could have left to join the Army or become a labourer. His 20-year-old brother, William, was working in Wales as a servant to a farmer.
We don’t know when Thomas joined the Army but, presumably, he was called up around the time of his 18th birthday in 1917. He was apparently living in Yardley Wood at the time of enlistment, and joined at Holmbury, Surrey. He must have seen some overseas service as he was entitled to the British War and Victory medals, although they were returned as there was no address of next-of-kin to send them to.
He is buried in Brookwood Military Cemetery, Surrey but is not known to be commemorated on any local war memorial.
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