21200 PTE. T. A. HILTON. L.N.LAN.R.

 

Tom Arnold Hilton was born on 25 April 1894, at Lonsdale Terrace, Farington, and baptised at St Saviour’s in Bamber Bridge on 27 May.  His father (John) Thomas b. 1856 in Preston was a railway engine driver; his mother was Elizabeth Sarah Hargreaves b. 1856 also in Preston.  Tom and Elizabeth had 7 children, 5 of whom survived, Tom being the youngest.  In 1911 he was an apprentice grocer and living with his family at 4 Almond Terrace, Lostock Hall.

 

Tom joined the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment at the same time as fellow villagers, William Parr and William Hibbert.  6th (Service) Battalion L.N.LAN.R. was part of Kitchener’s New Army and was created on 8 August 1914.  The three men almost certainly enlisted together in February 1915, and they arrived with other reinforcements from England at Suvla Bay on 14 November 1915, 6Bn having first arrived in Gallipoli on 25 April 1915.  By the time the new draft arrived in November, the decision had been taken to abandon the campaign and evacuate the Gallipoli Peninsula, but it would be an enormous and dangerous task to evacuate 80,000 men, with all their equipment and stores, from open beaches, under attack from an active and enterprising enemy.  However, the Battalion did manage to withdraw and in mid-December sailed for Moudros on the Greek island of Lemnos.  Around this time, British forces near Baghdad, in Mesopotamia, had come under severe attack and it had been decided that reinforcements, including 6Bn, would need to be sent.  A month later they transferred to Egypt where they were re-equipped for their new theatre of war.  They left Port Said on 14 February, arriving at Basra on 5 March, where they transferred to river boats and proceeded up the River Tigris to Sheikh Saad where by 1 April they formed part of a British Army of 30,000 men and 127 guns whose objective was to relieve the British and Indian troops besieged by the Turks in the city of Kut-al-Amara.  The British had some initial success in an attack from 6-9 April, during which Tom Arnold was missing presumed killed in action.  Tom was 21 years old.

 

During this action, 6Bn had 7 men killed, 6 officers and 79 other ranks wounded, and 4 officers and 165 other ranks missing.  Ultimately, however, the attempt to relieve Kut was a failure; the city surrendered on 28 April, after 24,000 men had been killed, wounded or taken prisoner in trying to bring it aid.  The loss of Kut has been described as "the most abject capitulation in Britain’s military history."  The army commanders were replaced, the army reorganised and re-trained and a new campaign was launched, eventually leading to the capture of Baghdad on 11 March 1917.

 

Rank: Private

Service No: 21200

Date of Death: 09/04/1916

Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 6th Bn.

Panel Reference: Panel 27.

Memorial: BASRA MEMORIAL

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