Thomas Bambrough was employed by Seaham Harbour Co-Operative Society, working in the Hardware department. He volunteered for service shortly after war was declared in August 1914 and joined the Northumberland Hussars. The Hussars were a territorial cavalry force that was expanded at the outbreak of hostilities.
Bambrough was not the only co-operator from Seaham to join the army – in fact, he was one of ten. In 1917, the Co-operative News stated that of these ten, three had been killed, one captured as a prisoner of war and another maimed for life. Another man was said to have received the Military Medal for his actions in the field.
After two years service in France, Bambrough was recommended for a commission. He was promoted to Second Lieutenant, joining the Durham Light Infantry (DLI). The DLI raised forty three battalions during the First World War, twenty two of which saw service overseas.
Bambrough was killed on 25 September 1917, aged 24, dying as a result of injuries sustained three days beforehand. The date of his death means that it is likely that he was killed during the Battle of Passchendaele, which took place between July and November 1917 in the constantly fought over area of Ypres in Belgium. The battle claimed a total of 585,000 lives on both sides for the sake of five miles of territory.
Co-operative News, 6 October 1917, page 945.
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.