THOMAS FIRBY DENT

Private PLY/184(S), Royal Marine Light Infantry

Killed in Action 13th November 1916 aged 20

No Known Grave Commemorated Thiepval Memorial, Somme, France

Son of James and Caroline Dent

Lived 11, King Street, Heckmondwike


Thomas (Tom) was born in Heckmondwike on 28th March 1895, the son of James Dent of Barnard Castle and Caroline (Catherine) Cooke from Much-Birch in Herefordshire.  Thomas’ father, James Dent had spent most of his life in Heckmondwike, having moved south with his own parents to Union Street by 1861, when he was 13 years of age.  James died in 1900, leaving Caroline a widow. Caroline remarried in 1904 to James Ledgard, but he passed away in 1906.

Tom was educated at the local council schools, attended St James’ Parish Church and was working as a Worsted Doffer by the aged of 14.  Later he was employed as a Trammer at Dymond Pit in Liversedge, and prior to enlistment, was employed by the Stanley Coal Company.

With the outbreak of war, Tom enlisted in the KOYLI at Dewsbury on the 7th September 1914, but as they were oversubscribed, he and several friends from Heckmondwike, were transferred to the Plymouth Division of the Royal Marines Light Infantry on the 16th September 1914.  After training at Plymouth, he embarked on HMS Victory, seeing action in Gallipoli in Turkey and later in Salonica in Greece.

A letter from Gallipoli, was received in Heckmondwike from Private Christopher Hallam who said that “Tom Dent and George Waite were with him at the front”. He also said “that he was with George Gale when he was shot but that he died bravely, and that he was near to Hardiman when he was wounded a fortnight later.

Tom served 2 years in the Dardanelles, returning home via the hospital island of Mudros and Marseille in October 1916 for a short leave, he was then drafted to France.  He wrote cheery letters home on October 20th and November 5th, but had only been there for three to four weeks when he was reported wounded and missing.  It was an agonising wait for his family, as not until July 1917 was a letter received by his mother giving her official confirmation that Tom was presumed to have been killed in action on November 14th 1916.

Of his friends only two survived the war, George Gale had been killed in Gallipolli on 26th April 1915 and Christopher Hallam died in a plane crash. The surviving two friends were Josiah Hardiman, who was invalided out and George Waite.
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Medals: 1914/15 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal
Commemorated: St Saviour’s Memorial now in St James’ Parish Church; St James’ Parish Church Plaque; Vellum Roll of Honour and Green Park Memorial.

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