Born in Skipton, Thomas Speight Gladstone was an employee of the Colne and District Co-operative Society, for whom he worked as an apprentice painter. He enlisted in the army on 30 October 1914, and, upon becoming a private, joined the Border Regiment, 2nd Battalion. Gladstone was sent to the Western Front approximately a year later. He was killed in action in Flanders on 15 October 1915, aged only 18. His family were not notified of his death until a month later. His battalion continued to fight on the Western Front until 1917 when they were sent to Italy.
Like all British soldiers who fought in the First World War, Gladstone was awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. These medals were generally given together, and referred to colloquially as ‘Squeak’ and ‘Wilfred’ respectively. The British War Medal was sometimes paired with the 1914 Star, which had the nickname ‘Pip’. The nicknames were derived from a popular comic published at the time.
Co-operative News, 20 November 1915, page 1522.
http://www.greatwar.co.uk/medals/ww1-campaign-medals.htm [Accessed 11 April 2015].
WWI co-operative voices
This post is part of ‘WWI co-operative voices’ which shares the stories of co-operative workers and members during the conflict. In order to mark the centenary of the WWI, the Rochdale Pioneers Museum is staging an exhibition entitled ‘From shop floor to front line’ and the accounts of these soldiers, shop workers and conscientious objectors will run alongside it. They are tales of death, duty and of those who chose not to fight.
Through ‘WWI co-operative voices’ we will be releasing new posts about these individuals throughout the duration of the exhibition (due to open mid-May 2015 and run until May 2016). Read about the co-operative movement’s involvement in a war that shook the world by selecting a name from the column on the left. You can also follow us on social media for regular updates.
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We wish to thank the Heritage Lottery Fund for supporting the ‘From shop floor to front line’ exhibition and project.