Remembering the Fallen: on this day in 1915 Second Lieutenant Thomas McClelland, 7th Battalion (Territorial), The King’s Regiment (Liverpool), was killed in action at Festubert on the Western Front. He was leading his men into battle when he received a single shot to the head, dying instantly.
He was educated at Trinity College, Oxford, obtaining a B.A. degree in Jurisprudence. He received a commission in September of 1914, and went with his battalion to France the following March. The Battle of Festubert began on the 15th of May and lasted for ten days, it was on the second day of the fighting that Second Lieutenant McClelland fell. The offensive was made under Sir General Douglas Haig, and was the first night-time attack of the war – at the end of the ten days, British casualties amounted to nearly 17,000, with a two-mile advance having been gained.
A fellow officer wrote: “He died simply splendidly, leading his platoon to the attack. It wasn’t possible for anything to live in the fire he and his men had to face, but he was yards ahead of his men when he fell. I saw him just before he went over and shook him by the hand, expecting to follow the next moment. We both agreed it wasn’t much use, but he was splendidly cheery about it. Those of his men who remain miss him terribly. They really loved him. He was an ideal officer, and they appreciated this.” From a newspaper obituary: “Second Lieutenant McClelland had a charm of manner and disposition which won him friends wherever he went, and he was loved by his fellow officers and men.” A tribute article appeared in The Oxford Magazine: “He was influential in a quiet way, and his friendship was highly valued by those brought into closer contact with a character of obvious sincerity and refinement.”
Thomas, from Aigburth, Liverpool, was 22 years old.