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Gunner Thomas Henry Spiers Townsend, the Royal Field Artillery

December 10, 2019


Remembering the Fallen:  on this day in 1917, Gunner Thomas Henry Spiers Townsend, the Royal Field Artillery, died of wounds received during the fighting in Flanders.

One of fourteen children of a servant at Brasenose College in Oxford, he also was employed as a college servant, at New College, and later as an under-porter at Worcester College.  He rowed for the Oxford College Servants’ crew, was a keen swimmer and connoisseur of red wine.

Gunner Townsend enlisted in the autumn of 1915 under the Derby Scheme, full details of which can be found here:  https://www.longlongtrail.co.uk/soldiers/a-soldiers-life-1914-1918/enlisting-into-the-army/the-group-scheme-derby-scheme/ - a former member of Worcester College invited him to serve in Ireland, so he joined the Royal Field Artillery and was present during the Easter Rising in 1916, after which he was sent to Flanders.

Gunner Townsend was injured during the German counter-offensives following the British initial success at the Battle of Cambrai, and was taken by field ambulance to one of the casualty clearing stations near Grevillers, where he passed away from his wounds.  He is buried in the Grevillers British Cemetery in France, and on his gravestone are the words:  “Peace perfect peace”.  He is remembered in the Worcester College Roll of Service and war memorial, and also on the war memorial of what was the St. Peter-in-the-East church in Oxford.  The 12th century church was deconsecrated after being closed in 1965, and is now the college library of St. Edmund Hall. 

Thomas, from Oxford, was 40 years old and married with a son.




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December 11, 2018

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