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Thomas Whitham
Thomas Whitham VC IWM Q 80662.jpg
Born 11 May 1888
Died 22 October 1924 (aged 36)
Place of birth Worsthorne (near Burnley), Lancashire
Place of death Oldham Infirmary, Lancashire
Buried at Inghamite Burial Ground, Wheatley Lane
Allegiance Flag of the United Kingdom.svg United Kingdom
Service/branch Flag of the British Army British Army
Years of service 1915-1919
Rank Private
Unit 1st Battalion, Coldstream Guards
Battles/wars World War I - Battle of Passchendaele
Awards Victoria Cross
Relations Jack Whitham (grandson)
Other work Bricklayer

Thomas Whitham VC (11 May 1888, Worsthorne, Lancashire – 22 October 1924, Oldham) was an English recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.

War serviceEdit

On 25 January 1915, Whitham enlisted in the British Army. He was 29 years old, and a private in the 1st Battalion, Coldstream Guards, during the First World War when the following deed took place for which he was awarded the VC.

On 31 July 1917 at Pilckem near Ypres, Belgium, during an attack an enemy machine-gun was seen to be enfilading the battalion on the right. Private Whitham on his own initiative immediately worked his way from shell-hole to shell-hole through our own barrage, reached the machine-gun and, although under very heavy fire captured it, together with an officer and two other ranks. This bold action was of great assistance to the battalion and undoubtedly saved many lives.[1]

Post warEdit

After the war he became a bricklayer but he struggled to find work. He was forced to sell his VC and a gold watch that had been presented to him by Burnley council in recognition of his bravery. Both ended up in a pawn shop but were rescued by the council and remain on display in the Towneley Hall Art Gallery & Museums in Burnley. Thomas died in poverty aged 36. He was buried on 27 October 1924 at Wheatley Lane Inghamite Church.[2] In 1952 a grave memorial was erected for him by the Coldstream Guards association.[3]

In 2008, it was announced that Burnley Schools' Sixth Form would be renamed Thomas Whitham Sixth Form.[4] A grandson was professional footballer Jack Whitham.

Additional awardsEdit

  • The 1914-15 star
  • British War Medal
  • Victory Medal

ReferencesEdit

External linksEdit

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