BORN ROOS 1896. ENLISTED HULL. SON OF GEORGE THORNTON (1853-1911 & JANE LAWRENCE (1861-1911). HE LIVED IN GOOLE, HOWDEN & ROOS AND THE WITH HIS SISTER MRS EDITH LAWRENCE NAYLOR (1885-1920), AND FOUR BROTHERS, AT 4 THE AVENUE, LINNAEUS STREET, HULL (ARMY ADDRESS). A FORMER CLERK AND A SINGLE MAN. HE ENLISTED AT HULL CITY HALL, ON 02/03/1916, AND WAS CALLED UP FOR SERVICE, ON 02/10/1916, AGED 20. HIS ARMY RECORDS STATE THAT HE WAS 5 FOOT, 7 INCHES TALL, 119 LBS WEIGHT, 34.5 INCH CHEST SIZE, CHURCH OF ENGLAND RELIGION. SUFFERING FROM SEVERE ANAEMIA, HIS PHYSCAL DEVELOPMENT WAS DESCRIBED AS “FAIR”. HE SERVED AS A PRIVATE WITH THE 7TH AND THEN 12TH EAST YORK REGIMENT, (KNOWN AS THE HULL SPORTSMEN). HE WAS POSTED TO FRANCE, ON 17/03/1917. KILLED AT OPPY WOOD ON 03/05/1917, AGED 21. ORIGINALLY REPORTED AS MISSING. HS SISTER WROTE TO THE RED CROSS IN GENEVA, TO CONFIRM IF HE WAS A PRISONER OF WAR AND SHE ASKED THE MILITARY AUTHORITIES TO CONFIRM HIS DEATH WITH A DEATH CERTIFICATE.
HIS BODY WAS NEVER FOUND AND HE IS COMMEMORATED ON THE ARRAS MEMORIAL, TO THE MISSING, FRANCE. HIS ARMY EFFECTS WERE LEFT TO HIS ELDER SISTER, EDITH AND HIS BROTHERS, EDWARD, WILLIAM, JAMES AND RICHARD NELSON THORNTON AT THIS ADDRESS.
The attack on Oppy Wood, part of the Battle of Arras, was a significant battle for the East Yorkshire Regiment and particularly for the city of Hull. All four Hull Pals battalions were involved on 3 May and all suffered heavy casualties, with 40% of those present killed or injured. 2nd Lieutenant Jack Harrison, a local teacher and rugby player with Hull FC, won a posthumous Victoria Cross for his bravery in rushing a machine gun position to protect his platoon. His body was never found.
The village of Oppy in France had been in German hands since October 1914 and was part of a formidable defensive system including trenches, dug-outs and thick barbed wire defences. During the Battle of Arras, which began in April 1917, the British tried to take Oppy. The first attack was a failure. A second attack was partially successful. The third attack on 3 May, known officially as the Third Battle of the Scarpe, was again unsuccessful with significant loss of life. The troops were ordered to attack at 3.45am, rather than at dawn, and the defending Germans could easily see the line of British soldiers clearly lit by the full moon. The British continued to attack Oppy and were finally successful the following year. The City of Hull Memorial at Oppy was unveiled in 1927 and commemorates the men of the Hull Pals who were killed on 3 and 4 May 1917.