b. 05/05/1895 Coseley, Staffordshire. d. 27/06/1917 Ypres, Belgium.
Thomas Barratt (1895-1917) was born on 5th May 1895 at 9 Foundry Street, Darkhouse, Coseley, Staffordshire. He was known as Tom. His father, James Barratt, was a coal miner, and married Sarah Ann Bailey on 21st July 1884 at Coseley Parish Church. Sadly, Sarah Ann died when Thomas was just three from complications from childbirth. By then his father was also in poor health, suffering from a form of paralysis, and was forced to go into the Dudley Workhouse (later Burton Road Hospital). Tom had four siblings – Clara (born 1886), James (born 1888), Elizabeth (born 1890) and Bert (born 1892).
Following the death of his mother, Tom was under the care of the Poor Law Guardians at Dudley Workhouse. He frequently ran away and on one occasion arrived at the home of his brother James at Albert Street, Coseley. James was out and his wife told Tom to leave and go back to the workhouse. Tom went to his grandmother, Mary Ann Haynes, who, with her husband Samuel, agreed to adopt him in 1907. Tom was educated at Darkhouse Baptist Chapel. Following school, he was employed at Cannon Foundry and later at Thompson Brothers, boilermakers of Lower Bradley, Bilston.
Tom enlisted on 14th January 1915 and landed at Suvla, Gallipoli on 11th September. He later served in Egypt before going to France. On 27th July 1917, north of Ypres, Belgium, Tom was a Scout to a patrol. He worked his way towards the enemy line with the greatest gallantry and determination, in spite of continuous fire from hostile snipers at close range. These snipers he stalked and killed. Later his patrol was similarly held up, and again he disposed of the snipers. When during the subsequent withdrawal of the patrol it was observed that a party of the enemy were endeavouring to outflank them, Pte. Barratt at once volunteered to cover the retirement, and this he succeeded in accomplishing. His accurate shooting caused many casualties to the enemy, and prevented their advance. Throughout the enterprise he was under heavy machine gun and rifle fire, and his splendid example of coolness and daring was beyond all praise. After safely regaining our lines, this very gallant soldier was killed by a shell.
He was buried in Essex Farm Cemetery, Boesinghe, Belgium, and as he never married, his VC was presented to his brother, James, by King George V at Buckingham Palace on 20th October 1917. In addition to his VC, he was awarded the 1914-15 Star, British War Medal 1914-20 and Victory Medal 1914-19. The VC group was acquired by the Staffordshire Regiment on 12th March 1987 with a grant from the Museums and Galleries Commission and other funds. It is held by the Staffordshire Regiment Museum, Whittington Barracks, Lichfield, Staffordshire.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: STAFFORDSHIRE REGIMENT MUSEUM, LICHFIELD, STAFFS.
BURIAL PLACE: ESSEX FARM CEMETERY, BOESINGHE, BELGIUM.
Thomas Barratt's medals including VC on display at the Staffordshire Regimental Museum, Whittington Barracks, Lichfield, Staffordshire (August 2014)
Memorial plaque from Thompson Bros of Bilston to Thomas Barratt VC
Cemetery Plan courtesy of Kevin Brazier
PLOT I, ROW Z, GRAVE 8
War Illustrated, 6th October 1917
Both the above pictures from Staffordshire Regimental Chapel
Danielle Crozier holding Thomas Barratt's medals accompanied by Johnson Beharry VC
His VC stone unveiled on 27th July 2017 at Coseley Memorial
Myself and Johnson Beharry VC at the unveiling on 27th July 2017
Medal on display at Lichfield Cathedral (June 2018)