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  • Christina Drummond

Private Thomas Rivers, 13th Battalion, The King's Regiment (Liverpool)

Remembering the Fallen: on this day in 1917, Private Thomas Rivers, 13th Battalion, The King’s Regiment (Liverpool), was killed in action at Arras in France.

The 13th Battalion was formed at Seaforth in September of 1914 as part of the Third New Army and was attached to the 25th Division. It was known as a Kitchener or Service battalion – one of several which resulted from Lord Kitchener’s appeal for mass voluntary recruiting at the outbreak of the Great War. In September of 1915 Private Rivers landed at Le Havre and saw action on the Western Front. During 1916 he was involved in the Actions of the Bluff and St Eloi Craters, as well as the Battles of Albert, Bazentin, Delville Wood, and Ancre. In 1917 he fought in the Battle of Arras, sometimes known as the Second Battle of Arras – this began on the 9th of April and was a British offensive on the Western Front. They attacked the German defences near the city of Arras, achieving the longest advance since trench warfare had begun. They had learned to accurately synchronise the movement of the troops to the fall of the barrage, initially successful in that battle due to previous rehearsals and strict scheduling. The rate of wear of the gun barrels had also been calculated and calibrated, and the barrage forced the Germans to remain in their shelters, allowing the Allied soldiers to advance. However, their advance slowed as the German defence recovered, and the battle became what was noted as “a costly stalemate” for both sides and by the end, on the 16th of May, the British had suffered just under 160,000 casualties.

Private Rivers fell during the recovery of the German defence, and his body was never found - his name is on the Arras Memorial at Pas-de-Calais in France.

Thomas, from Liverpool, was 39 years old and married with five children.

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