For King and Country

Person Details

AYERS, Thomas Frederick


Name: Maidenhead St. Ives Road, Maidenhead
NIWM Ref: 7882
RBWM Ref: WM119
Name: St. Lukes Church St Luke's Road, Maidenhead
NIWM Ref: 3866
RBWM Ref: WM131

Person Details

Date of birth: 1/1897
Place of birth: Maidenhead
Gender: Male
Date of death: 01/09/1914
Place of death: Foret de Retz, Belgium
Manner of death: Killed in action
Age at death: 17
CWGC Ref: 578651
TWGPP Ref: 3053701
Address: Mayville Alwyn Road Maidenhead

Military details

Joined: Serving Soldier
Military Organisation: Army
Military Unit/Group: 2nd Battalion, Genadier Guards
Rank: Lance Corporal
Service Number: 16358
Joined: Volunteered
Military Organisation: Army
Military Unit/Group: 2nd Battalion, Genadier Guards
Rank: Private


Father William AYERS
Mother Eliza AYERS
Brother William Jasper AYERS
Brother Henry George AYERS
Brother Walter Sydney AYERS
Brother Arthur Charles AYERS
Brother Ernest AYERS
Brother Bertie John AYERS
Sister Florence May AYERS

Additional information

Thomas was one of seven sons of William and Eliza Ayes. The boys were William, Henry, Walter, Arthur, Ernest and Bertie and they had a baby sister Florence May to complete the family. Tom and his sister May were pupils of Alwyn Road School when it opened in 1906. Tom left school in 1911 aged 14. Thomas worked as an office boy from the age of 14 and continued to do clerical work in the Army.
On the 29th March 1913 Thomas enlisted in the Grenadier Guards at Brock Barracks, Reading, giving his age as 18 years and one month when actually he was 16 years and two months. He was not required to produce a copy of his birth certificate. The first his family knew of it was when he returned home and told them. After initial training he was posted to the 2nd Battalion Grenadier Guards. In 1913 he had studied for and passed the Army Second and Third Class Certificates of Education. These ensured he was proficient in arithmetic including addition and subtraction of vulgar and decimal fractions. More specific to the Army was proficiency in taking dictation of Regimental Orders and keeping regimental and mess accounts. On 4th August 1914 war was declared and on 12th August the Battalion left Chelsea Barracks and was transported by train to Southampton from where they sailed that evening on the Cawdor Castle landing at Le Havre the next morning. The Battalion had twenty-nine officers and one thousand men and formed part of 4 Guards Brigade.
Thomas was involved in the retreat from Mons. At midnight orders were received that the Brigade was to hold a rearguard line to the north of Foret de Retz near the town of Villers Cotterets. The Grenadier headquarters was positioned at Rond de la Reine, a circular feature where various forest rides converged. Orders were then received that the line was to be held until 1.00 pm to cover the withdrawal of the remainder of 2nd Division to the town of Villers Cotterets. The enemy managed to engage the Guards at close quarters at about 11.00 am. The fighting became fierce and confused in the thick woods with several platoons being surrounded and fighting to the last. The exact whereabouts of Tom Ayers at this point are unclear. It is known that he stood to engage a target but was immediately shot in the head. It seems likely that he was in one of the surrounded platoons. This was afterwards known as the Battle of the Marne.

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