Coleshill Remembers World War 1
As a free service to the World War 1 commemoration year, ST-IT Limited have created and are hosting a free database of Coleshill connected veterans.
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Entry for Private Thomas Birks
1st Battalion Prince of Wales's (North Staffordshire Regiment)
Year of Birth
Date of Death
Thomas Birks was born in 1891 in Longton, Staffordshire, to parents James and Sarah. His father was a coal carter and his mother worked as a potter’s burnisher. James had two older sisters, Mary Ellen and Elizabeth, an older brother, James, and a younger brother, Joseph. Sarah died in 1900, leaving James Sr as a widower with five children to look after. He died in 1901 and by 1902 Thomas and Joseph were living at the St Paul’s Home for Boys in Coleshill, Warwickshire. Thomas moved to the St Vincent’s Home at 102 Moseley Road, Birmingham, on 31st March 1906, and worked as a printer. From there he enlisted in the North Staffordshire Special Reserve at Lichfield in June 1908. Private Birks (service number 8979) completed his training between 15th June and 16th September 1908 and was then posted to the 3rd Battalion North Staffordshire Regiment on 18th September 1908. He passed classes of instruction in Mounted Infantry Duties. Private Birks was posted to the 1st Battalion North Staffordshire Regiment on the 20th September 1908. On the 20th February 1912 Thomas was appointed unpaid Lance Corporal with the 1st Battalion, and then on 12th May 1912 he was appointed to paid Lance Corporal. After just two months in this position he was reverted back to Private for quitting the Barracks. Upon the outbreak of war in August 1914 the 1st Battalion North Staffordshire Regiment were stationed at Buttevant in Ireland. From there they moved to Cambridge and then Newmarket, forming part of the 17th Brigade, 6th Division. Private Birks first served in France on the 10th September 1914 and his Battalion were involved in the First Battle of Ypres and also the Christmas Truce of December 1914. In March 1915 the 1st Battalion North Staffordshire Regiment were involved in the Battle of Neuve Chapelle (10th – 13th March). Private Thomas Birks was killed in action near Armentieres on the 12th March 1915 during the fighting at Chapelle D'Armentieres. He was posthumously awarded the 1914 Star with clasp, British War and Victory medals, and is remembered on the Ploegsteert Memorial, Belgium. Private Birks is also remembered on the memorial in St Teresa and the Sacred Heart, Coleshill.
St Vincent’s Journal No. 19, Summer 1915 Thomas Birks came to St Paul’s on July 29th, 1902. He went to St Vincent’s on March 31st, 1906. His relatives wrote informing us he was killed in action. His brother Joe is serving in the Navy.