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M.7

Grave photoTom Hewitt Tom Hewitt was born in Birmingham, the eldest son of Thomas and Emily (nee Kefford). The Hewitt family had resided in Stareton for several generations, but Tom's father became a railway worker in Birmingham, where Tom was educated at Garrison Lane School before returning to live with his grandparents in Stoneleigh in 1899.The reason for this was that Tom's father had died aged only 34 - from an "abscess on the brain"- and whilst his widow Emily remained in Birmingham with their three younger children (the youngest only 3 months old) Tom was sent to Stoneleigh aged 10 and was admitted to the school in June1899 (it is remarked in the school logbook that he had an impediment in his speech). He left school to become a "garden boy". Tom joined the King's Shropshire Light Infantry, and had probably seen service before 1911 as Cordelia Leigh records that he spent 5 years in India (his mother having moved to Whitchurch in Shropshire by then, working as a railway attendant herself). The 5th Battalion of the King's Shropshire Light infantry was formed in August 1914 and initially Tom served in Belgium, where in February 1915 he suffered from frost-bitten feet and was sent home to hospital in Brighton. He had a mild bout of typhoid in April but was back at the Front by July, in action at Hooge. Tom was killed in action on September 25th 1915 when the KSLI as part of the 14th (Light) Division were heavily engaged at the second battle of Bellewaarde, a diversionary battle to distract German attention from the Battle of Loos. It failed; casualties were catastrophic. He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Menin Gate at Ypres, Panel 47 and 49. Tragically Tom's younger brother George, also serving in the 5th Bn King's Shropshire Light Infantry, was killed in the same battle on the same day. Initially he was reported as missing but, his body never having been found, his name is inscribed alongside his brother Tom's. On July 29th 1918, the last remaining brother, Charles Arthur, serving with the 1/4th Bn King's Shropshire Light Infantry, was killed in the Ardennes and is buried at Omont Communal Cemetery. Thus Mrs Emily Hewitt had lost her husband and three sons within a ten year period. A daughter, Edith, remained, both living in Whitchurch, Shropshire.

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