NORRISH, Thomas Theodore

Norrish, TTSecond Lieutenant, 1st Bn., Devonshire Regiment

Born

8th September 1896, Sandford, Crediton, Devon.
Fourth and youngest son of Mr. Edward Cromis Norrish and his wife Margaret Agnes (nee Hutton) of Hillesleigh, Instow, North Devon.

Education

Exeter Grammar School, where he won a silver cup in 1907 for the ½ mile handicap race.
Blundell's School, “North Close”, from the age of 12; May 1909 – Easter 1913. He was in the OTC from 1909 to 1913.

Service

At the outbreak of war he joined the Royal North Devon Hussars as a trooper, and was quickly promoted to Corporal. He was then gazetted to the Devonshire regiment on 8th April 1915. He trained in Exeter and at the North Raglan Barracks, Plymouth.  He served with the Expeditionary Force in France from 26th November 1915.

Trench Diaries

The 1st Bn. Devonshires were part of 95th Brigade, 5th Division.  They moved from Ivergny to Candras on the 14th July, to Herissart on the 15th July, Bessle on the 16th July, Becodel-Becourt on 17th July and to the old German line at Montauban on the 19th July.  From there they held reserve positions south west of Longueval.  Later is support during operations around Longueval and Delville Wood.  They relieved Ponniers Redoubt on 29th July and on 1st August were in bivouacs near Albert.  Sent by train from Airaines to Edgehill until 24th August and then relieved 17th West Yorkshires in trenches south-east of Guillenont on 26th August. To Billon Wood on 31st August in support of an attack on Leuze Wood on 3rd September.  Assaulted south-west edge of the wood at 6.55p.m. on 4th September with objective taken and held until relieved by 7th Royal Irish Fusiliers at 6.10p.m. on 5th September. Casualties incurred: 195 men. To Happy Valley and on to Citadel camp on 9th September then reserve trenches near angle wood running south east from Falfemont Farm on 10th Sept. Returned to front line Leuze wood on 12th September 1916.

Death

13th September 1916.
Leuze Wood, Somme.
Lt. Norrish was in a trench in Leuze Wood (known to the soldiers as “Lousy Wood”) on the right flank of the Somme Offensive, east of Delville wood, between Guillemont and Combles.  He was among his men when a shell came and killed him and several others.  At first reported as “missing” his death was later confirmed to have occurred on 13th September 1916. His Commanding Officer wrote “On the 13th we were holding Leuze Wood and were heavily shelled.  Your son was occupying a portion of the trench with some of his men and it is known that this portion of our defences was very, severely damaged … it is a great loss to our regiment as he had done very well and showed great promise”  a comrade wrote “One other Company also had a rough time and among the many casualties were 2nd Lieuts Dawe and Norrish who were killed by the same shell.  I saw them in the morning and although they were being a bit rattled, they seemed quite cheery and I had a chat with them and promised to come back to them but I never saw them again.”

Burial/Commemoration

2/Lt. Norrish has no known grave so is commemorated on Theipval Memorial, Theipval, Somme.

 

Memorial

Theipval Memorial is on the D73, off the Main Bapaume to Albert (D929).
The Memorial, 150 feet high, was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens and can be seen from many of the battle sites in the surrounding area.  It has sixteen piers on whose faces the names of all the men who have no known grave, is inscribed. An excellent interpretation centre has been built nearby with research facilities and an “on line” memorial to the missing which contains much valuable information.

Research

Commonwealth War Graves Commission - www.cwgc.org
The National Archive, Public Records Office, Kew. WO 339/
“The Register of Blundell's School, Part II 1882 – 1932” (1932) MAHOOD, A.S., Ed. Entry No.5326
Cemeteries & Memorials in Belgium & Northern France (2004) Commonwealth War Graves Commission. 25/490
Field visit (JEA & GRY 28/7/2006)

 

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