Tom Williamson HOOLEY
Rank: 2nd Lieutenant
Unit: 45th Company LABOUR CORPS
Date of Death: 3 September 1917
Age: 44
Cemetery: Godewaersvelde British Cemetery, Nord, France

Tom was born on 22 June 1873 in Levenshulme (now part of Manchester). He was educated at Manchester Grammar School and, later studied at Liverpool University to become an architect and surveyor. In 1905, he married Margaret H Collinson in a civil ceremony at Stockport.

By the time of the Great War, Tom and Margaret were living at "The Thorns", Sydall Road in Bramhall and Tom was a successful architect. As a younger man, he had been a member of the Cheshire Volunteer Battalion- the fore-runner of the Territorial army battalions.

The Labour Corps was formed at the beginning of 1917 to undertake non-fighting duties behind the front line. It would build roads, dig graves, unload ships and similar duties. Tom must have decided that this was an opportunity for him to serve his country whilst utilising his skills. He applied for a commission in the Corps and wrote in support of his application "In the course of ordinary practice, I have had a large experience of road making, sewage treatment and water supply, principally applied to buildings in the country where no public service were available. The laying out of estates including all the varied works in connection with same has formed a large part of my practice. The management and control of large numbers of men in connection with the above works has given me the experience considered suitable for the work now applied for."  

Tom was duly commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Labour Corps with effect from 3 April 1917 and he will have gone overseas almost immediately afterwards. He was back in the UK, on leave, between 12 and 21 August. Unlike infantry battalions, there are no remaining records of the daily activities of most Labour Corps units, but it is known that, during late August, the men of 45th Company were filling sandbags. Tom's service file still exists at the national Archives and this reveals that Tom was severely wounded, in the buttock and left arm, by a bomb dropped from an enemy aeroplane. He was taken to a nearby military field hospital (11th Casualty Clearing Station), where military surgeons tried to save his life but without success.

Tom's personal effects were later retuned to Margaret. They included a leather pocket pouch; tobacco pouch and two pipes; a pair of braces; whistle and lanyard; a pencil case, two penknives and a folding rule; gold engraved ring; letters and photographs.

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