116532 GNR. T. C. CANK. R.F.A.
Thomas Cuthbert Cank was born in April 1896 in Ulnes Walton, and baptised on 19 April at Ecclestone. His father was John Cank (b. 1872 in Llangenny, Breconshire, South Wales), manager of a game farm by trade. His mother was Louisa Isabel Dobson (b. 1870 at Latham Street in Preston). The Cank family were originally from Shropshire, where John’s father Thomas was a gamekeeper. They lived for about 8 years in South Wales before moving to Hutton in 1880. Here Thomas Cank was a game food manufacturer and John began working for his father. John and Louisa were married in 1891 and they had three children: Millicent Belle (b. 1893), Thomas Cuthbert and finally Edna Dobson (b. 1898). In 1911, the family was living at The Hollies in Farington. (I haven’t located any house or farm called The Hollies now, however we do know that in the 1970s The Hollies was a poultry farm on Croston Road – probably near the junction with Fowler Lane – run by Stanley Turner.) In 1911 Tom was 15 and still at school – he attended Balshaw’s Grammar School in Leyland. On leaving school he worked in the offices of Leyland Motors.
Thomas Cuthbert Cank enlisted in the Royal Field Artillery in January 1916 and was assigned service number 116532 and posted to 188 Brigade, B Battery. 188 Brigade served as Divisional artillery with 40th Division. The Division was formed between September and December 1915. They proceeded to France between 2-6 June 1916 and concentrated near Lillers. They went into the front line near Loos and were later in action in The Battle of the Ancre towards the end of the Battle of the Somme. According to the official record, the Brigade was broken up in September 1916 although the War Diary for the Brigade continues until the end of December that year. The last known location of B/188 was close to Saint-Pierre Vaast on the Somme. Tom died (the newspaper article says he died of illness rather than wounds) at No. 6 General Hospital, Rouen, on 24 January 1917. He was 20 years old. Although The Battle of the Somme is considered to have ended in November 1916, in fact fighting and shelling continued throughout the winter, if less intensely, as the Germans completed their secret plan to withdraw to their new defensive position along the Hindenburg Line.
Service No: 116532
Date of Death: 24/01/1917
Regiment/Service: Royal Field Artillery, "B" Bty. 188th Bde.
Grave Reference: O. IV. D. 9.
Cemetery: ST. SEVER CEMETERY EXTENSION, ROUEN
Additional Information: Only son of John and Louise Isabel Cank, of 7, Balderstone Rd., Preston, Lancs.
Tom is recorded by CWGC as his parents’ “only son”, even though they also had two daughters! Some time between 1911 and 1919, the family moved from The Hollies in Farington to Preston, and my research has discovered that the people who later moved into The Hollies also suffered further tragic loss in the War. William Ernest Meyler was married to Annie Wright and they lived at The Hollies in Farington, presumably moving there after they married in the first quarter of 1916. William Meyler died on the Somme just 10 days after Tom Cank.