1918-2008: Ninety Years of Remembrance

Soldier Record

Thomas Jennings

Contributed by: Jackie Damary-Homan, on 2008-11-15

No portrait available
First Name Thomas
Surname Jennings
Year of Birth 1889
Year of Death 1917
Regiment Durham Light Infantry
Place of Wartime Residence Gateshead, Durham

Thomas's Story

Thomas Jennings from Gateshead, near Newcastle was born in 1889. His family were hauliers having a number of horse drawn and motorised haulage vechicles. Thomas loved horses and being of slight build he was keen to become a jockey.

His parents could afford to send him to Newmarket, Suffolk for training as an apprentice. They paid for his training, lodgings and all expenses.This was the start of a successful carreeer that was cruelly taken away from him with the start of the war. He gained the nickname of Speedy Jennings due to his success on the race track. He won the Newmarket November handicap, a prestigious race and his future looked rosy.

He served his apprenticeship with Mr John Watson of the Palace house stables and rode for Mr Leopold de Rothchild. He later worked for Mr Joseph Butters of The Kremlin stables, newmarket.

When War broke out he didn`t want to leave his beloved horses but joined the war effort in munitions. He joined the Durham light infantry early summer of 1916 (approx). This way he could stay with horses. He trained at home before being sent to the front in france. He had many months mostly working behind the front line with the horses. Frequently going into the front line trenches. It was on one fateful time taking fresh horses to the trenches that he fell victim to the german poison mustard gas attack. He was taken to the 22nd general hospital where he survived for 5 weeks before inflamation of the kidneys supervened and in his weakened state from the gas attack he died on Thursday December 13th 1917. He is remembered with honour at Etaples military cemetary, Pas de Calais. France.

His racing winnings has enabled him to buy his own house.45 Stanley road Newmarket. He married miss Florence reynolds of newmarket and had two sons. His younger son died age 3 1/2 in April 1916. His healthy son Gilbert Harry Jennings was 5 (born 1912)at the time of his fathers death. He had inhertited his fathers thin frame red hair and lively character.

At the end of the war his mother Florence left Gilbert to be brought up by his grandparents Mr & mrs Peachy in Newmarket.

His mother felt she wouldn`t get another husband with a chgild in tow, so she moved to Northampton and worked for the war effort, having sold the family home.She married Percy Glenister. Five years later she had a daughter Joyce who became Gilberts treasured half sister. Gilbert grew up assisting Reg with his dance band playing in local pubs and as his page turner for his grandad who was also the church organist. Gilbert became a telegram boy in Newmarket. He joined the army in the second world war. Becoming a desert rat fighting Rommel driving a bren gun carrier. he went on to Italy and fought at Monte casino.

He survived the war and had an active life in Cambridge as a postman. his only daughter Janet is my motherJanet.

My Grandad died in 2007 aged 94 having a jolly disposition till the end. He is sadly missed but his art work of 5o years lives on as do his 2 grand daughters, 6 great grand children and one new great great grandson.

I am proud to have known him and value the memory of his father Thomas who died in 1917 so that our generations could be free!

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