Tom Coleman (1895–1974)


Sherwood Forsters (Notts and Derby Regiment)
2819 & 330884
5th & 21st Battalions
Durham Light Infantry 72055 25th Battalion
Labour Corps 23528 40 Coy

Photos courtesy Val Greenhough

Tom Coleman in WW1

Tom Coleman and his wife

Tom with his wife Laura (née Moss)

Tom was one of the first Crich Parish volunteers in Oct 1914.

Photo courtesy Crich Heritage Partnership

Crich recruits 1914

Included among these 1914 recruits are probably :
Billy Curzon; Jack Porter; Walter (Wammy) Mellors; Jack Kneebone; Duncan Coooke;
Billy Burr; Noble Tomlinson; Tom Coleman; Billy Frost; Luke Coleman; Jack Cauldwell; George Perry.
It is believed that John Roe, brothers Herbert and Steven Bollington (and possibly John) are also amongst this group.

When training at Swanwick during 1915 he was hospitalised after playing football during regimental sports. He arrived in France in April 1917 and was demobbed in April 1919 after which he worked as a railway platelayer. His wife was Laura Moss and they had a family.
Tom and his brother Luke were involved with Crich United Football Club. They were often reported in the local press

Newspaper reports

Derbyshire Courier 30 August 1913
Although accepted as members of the Erewash league, the United, under the ruling of the D.F.A.will again be members of the Matlock Junior League. Possessed of practical members on the committee, an enthusiastic secretary in Mr W. H. Perry, and a good list of serviceable players, the club is hoping to occupy a high position in the league table. Mr Maurice Deacon is the president, and Dr G.G. Macdonald and Mr G.C. Birch are vice-presidents. The committee is comprised of: Messrs. D.M. Brown (chairman), G.V. Ferguson (vice-chairman), Hy. Holtham, Hy. Wetton, F. Ward, Jos. Perry, F. Whitehead, F. and J. Porter, Isaac and William Coleman, C. Harper, I. Hartstone and Jas. Mellors. The majority of last season's players are retained and include A. Crowder (vice-chairman), John Curzon, A. Leafe, Luke Coleman, Tom Coleman, Vernon and Tom Greenhough, D. Cooke, and Wm. Rowe. New players include Jas. Amatt (late Holloway, who is to captain the team and who should provide prove a valuable acquisition), J. Hudson (Holloway), S.Taylor (goal), and A. Matthews (Whatstandwell), while the services of Mr G.C. Birch have been promised. Several other signatures are expected and although the club has lost the services of F. Mellors, who was been signed on by Sheffield Wednesday, Sam Taylor should prove a valuable substitute. The headquarters of the club are at the Black Swan Hotel, and the ground is Jefferies Lane Field. Financially the club is on the right side, a small balance of being in hand.
Mr J. Mellors is appointed groundsmen. And the contract for conveyance of players is let to Mr F. Davis of Holloway. Cup and Medal competitions have been entered for. The first home league match is on Wakes Saturday, Oct. 11th, when Slaley will be entertained.

Derbyshire Courier 21 April 1914
The United of Crich accomplished a good performance before their own supporters on Good Friday morning when they beat Chatsworth by four goals to nothing. The Parkites, kicking uphill, were assisted by a strong breeze, Crich soon took up the running, a couple of good movements by Tom Coleman being just wide of the mark. A glorious chance of opening the score was presented to Amatt shortly after. The Crich skipper failing with a shot. The Park team then made a spurt, and a good combined movement looked certain to bear fruit for the ball was lifted over the bar from close in. Vernon Greenhough at the other end made an attempt which went wide and this was followed by a good run and centre from Tom Coleman, and from the latter Luke Coleman unmarked drove the ball hard into the corner of the net. An incursion into home quarters was nullified by Chatsworth shooting freely just prior to the interval. Hudson bought the Parkites goalie to his knees with a fast drive.
On resuming the United were keen to advantage and goal number two soon came. This was from the foot of Hudson who, with a long grounder, had no difficulty in beating the Chatsworth goalie. After continued pressure Byard added a third goal for the home team with a long shot that hit the foot of the post and glanced into the net. Chatsworth then woke up and Hollingsworth was called on to clear but the visitors effort was soon expended. Crich’s fourth goal was due to good work by the brothers Coleman, Tom getting clear away on the left and centring for Luke to snap up the ball and bang it at great speed into the net. The Parkites were probably tired and the home team continued to press to the close, but no further scoring took place.

Tom enlisted on 20th October 1914 aged nineteen, a stone quarryman. His record stated he was a Primitive Methodist living on Surgery Lane, Crich. During his training period Tom was stationed at the Hayes in Swanwick and wrote many letters to his girlfriend, Annie Porter (who worked at Lea Mills and was sister to his friend John (Jack) Porter). The letters refer to several of his Crich friends also training with him and give an insight into Army life while training. What follows are edited extracts from some of the letters.

Annie Porter letters [Letters courtesy David Brown]

3 November 1914
Dear Annie, just a line to let you know that I have not forgotten you altogether it is very near as bad as being in Derby jail here but its no good bothering, me and your Jack is in the cook-house today so we shall know how to go on when we come home. We are coming home on Sunday. If we are not in the cook-house we shall be home by 4 o’clock and we shall have to be in at 9.30. There’s a lot of men here, 210, and by this weekend there will be 12 hundred. I went to Somercotes Palace on Monday night it was very good. A Belgian man was speaking in his own language and a very nice girl came and shook hands with all the soldiers that were in. She said we were a nice lot of boys only she said it in her language. We had some fun I can tell you but it’s not like being at home same as the Gramophone says. Jack Cauldwell got drunk the other night but don’t tell Flo or she might tell him about it. W Curzon and our Luke went out to tea with two girls on Sunday and they wanted me to go but I thought about you and I did not go. It is taking me a lot of writing this letter is, they are all singing like mad. Tell your mother that she must not be surprised if she gets some money because Jack’s allowed her 4d a day out of his money and they allow so much it will amount to about 7/6 or 8/- a week. Well Annie I can’t say a deal more because I have not got time and the seargent says I have been long enough to write a B news paper but I take no notice of him. Yours ever, Tom

In a letter dated 5th November 1914 he mentioned Percy Brann and Alfred Curzon being among a hundred men going to France. Both were killed in action.
On 26th November 1914 he bemoaned the fact that Duncan Cooke and himself had been denied leave as they had been chosen to play football. He threatened to send his football kit home in case it happened again. Duncan Cooke was later killed in France.

3 December 1914
Annie just a line hoping to find you very well as it leaves me the same at present. I feel just like upsetting somebody because I have not got my leave this week and there many a lot of men got leave that hasn’t been here half as long as me. I have asked the Sergent about it and he says he forgot to put my name down and I told him what I thought about him. He lets all the Belper lot go home about every week and he says if I don’t keep my mouth shut he shall stop me from coming at all. But I am afraid he will have to keep me under lock and key if he means keeping me away from Crich. I hear that J Davis has got leave this week but I don’t know for shure, it seems that anybody can get it besides me. There isn’t one Crich got it this week. We should have got it if William Curzon would have opened his mouth but he doesn’t care now he has had his. Our Luke and Duncan Cooke has had their photos taken and they are very good ones too. I don’t think mine will be half as good but I shall see when I go for them, if they are.

7 December 1914
Annie we are having a holiday on Thursday afternoon to play a football match for medals and I have refused to play but they say that they shall make me play because they can’t manage without me and I don’t want to play now I am better again. I will write towards the weekend and let you know if I get my leave, and if any one would like to come and see us on Wednesday they could do so. Tell your Fred to come and bring W Perry with him if nobody else is coming. The Officers have allowed us to have friends visiters every month and it is our turn on Wednesday. We shall have a half days holiday and anybody that comes will be able to look through The Hayes and all the grounds for 2 hours so just let them know at home. Them that comes will be under the Military Police and they take them round they will be able to get a good tea in the canteen and we shall be pleased to see anybody from Crich. It will be a month after Wednesday before anyone can come again so please make it known to all Crich folk. There is 8 companys here and they are allowing 2 companys to have visitors one week and 2 more Companys next week and so on and it just brings it one month between so them that wants to come had better come on Wednesday because I don’t expect we shall be here many months. J Curzon has written for W Perry to come and I hope he will bring some more.

John Curzon was later killed in action.

28 December 1914
Dear Annie, Duncan Cooke and Jack Kneebone is going to go with me through the Mill either Thursday or Friday so tell Elsie to tell her mother that if she cares to go with us she can. Me and Arthur Tomlinson is going to ask the Col if we can get transfered into the RFA. We are tired of being here I hope it won’t bother you I know you can’t help but bother a bit but you will soon get over it, I am not shure wether we shall be able to get into the RFA or not but we are determined to try.

Jack Kneebone was later killed in action.

Dear Annie I shall be coming home on Thurs and we will come through the Mill on Friday so ask for us. There will be 4 or 5 I don’t know for shure because George Wragg and William Frost wants to come with us if they can and Duncan Cooke is coming through as well so don’t be surprised to see all of us. I am in a hurry to catch the post and have not had my tea yet so good bye till Thurs night.

24 February 1915
Dear Annie, I am sorry I could not write before but I have been very busy ever since we left Luton to go to Hoddesdon in Hertfordshire. The 5th Battalion are going to France tonight and we are in the first Reinforcements so we are expecting to have to follow them on although we shall have to go to Luton first for firing. I am staying in the next house to your Jack [Porter] and its not above twenty yards from where one of those bombs dropped on Sunday night. The people here are about going mad they have all insured their property and it was only last night that we had orders to get under cover because a Zepellin was flying about and a wire came from Colchester to say it had been there but it had not dropped anything. Well Annie its just awful here no lights at night and everything is in darkness if we go out at night we have a puzzle to get back at night and I knocked a kid down the other night because it was so dark I could not see it. I have had a good place at Hoddesdon I was of living with a gentleman and we had everything I wanted I never used to go out at night because he found us a billiard table and we used to play till 11 o’clock at night. It was just like being in a palace. We had a room to ourselves me and D Cooke, J Kneebone & W Curzon and we did enjoy ourselves, but its all over now. We have got a poor place to what the last was and it was worse than leaving home when we left it, but we shall have to put up with it. You know everything doesn’t run smooth in the Army, they say we are going to be enoculated in a few days but we don’t know if its right or not, we shall not be long before we are shifting from here, but if we do go to France I shall think of you. Please remember me to Florrie, Jack Cauldwell is just writing a letter perhaps it is to her, I have been with him ever since we came here he is living next door to me.

No date
Dear Annie, thanks very much for those cigerretts which you sent me I am very glad to know that you have not forgotten me altogether. I have asked for a transfer into the RFA and they tell me that if I get transfered I shall have to sign for 4 years on and 7 years in the reserve but that won’t bother me because I never felt better in my life than I have done since I joined the army. Don’t tell anyone about it because I don’t know for sure wether I shall get it or not but I am having a good try. I have asked to go to Colchester to Bill.

His brother Bill (William) was in the Royal Field Artillery stationed at Colchester.

29 March 1915, Luton
Dear Annie, just a line in answer to your letter which I have just received it has been lost it has been to 4 different Battallions 6th 7th 8th Sherwood Foresters & now it has been undone and you can bet someone has read it. I have not got that transfer that I told you about but I am not bothering now I know we are going away. I have refused to be enoculated and I mean to stick to it. I told the officer this morning that they can do as they like with me as long as they keep that needle out of my arm. He says I am very silly for not being done but I know best & they are not going to do me. He says that I shall probabley have to go into the home service lot & then I shan’t go to France at all, but I think he is only having me on a bit. I think every one will have to go yet, home service men as well.

In April 1915 he had his left clavicle broken while playing football for his Regiment. The subsequent Court of Enquiry stated he was not on duty and was not to blame for his accident. Lance Corporal Hill who was a witness gave evidence as to what happened.

3576 L.Cpl Hill 1/5 Sherwood Foresters “ I was watching a football match between 1/5 and 1/8 Sherwood Foresters on April 27th and I saw Pte Coleman charged by two other players and that he was hurt. I helped to take him to the hospital when he was detained”

Thomas entered France in April 1917 where he was posted to serve with the Durham Light Infantry. The following May he was transferred to the Labour Corps. In March 1918 he was posted to serve at Derby with the Agricultural Coy of the Labour Corps before being discharged, with the Silver War Badge, in April 1919 having a good character reference.

Medal Index Record
Awarded the Victory and British War medals.

Silver War Badge
23528 Coleman Thomas, Labour Corps, Badge B303820, enlisted 20.10.14 discharged 16.4.19

Service Record
Enlisted on 20 October 1914 aged 19 years and 5 months, a stone quarryman. He was a Primitive Methodist. His next of Kin was recorded as his mother Elizabeth Coleman, Crich Cross, Crich. Also noted was his father Aaron Coleman.

20/10/14 Enlisted into 5th Sherwood Foresters
22/02/15 Transferred to 1/5 Sherwood Foresters
26/02/15 Transferred to 2/5 Sherwood Foresters
27/04/15 Broken left clavical whilst playing football during Regimental sports between 1/5 and 1/8 Sherwood Foresters
03/06/15 Court of enquiry into his accident. He was not on duty and was not to blame.
3576 L.Cpl Hill 1/5 Sherwood Foresters " I was watching a football match between 1/5 and 1/8 Sherwood Foresters on April 27th and I saw Pte Coleman charged by two other players and that he was hurt. I helped to take him to the hospital when he was detained"
26/01/16 Attached to 29th Provisional Battalion
01/01/17 Posted to 21st Battalion Notts & Derby Regt
27/04/17 To France
23/04/17 Posted to Durham Light Infantry, then DLI
14/05/17 Transferred to 40 Coy Labour Corps
12/03/18 Arrived Boulogne marked RAMC
16/03/18 Transferred to Home Establishment at Derby.
16/04/19 Discharged with very good character reference to Surgery Lane, Crich

Tom Coleman's brothers Luke Coleman, William Coleman and Isaac Coleman are also on the Roll of Honour.


1901: Crich

Forename Surname Relationship Age Occupation Where born
Aaron Coleman Head 44 Limestone quarryman Crich
Lizzie Coleman wife 42   Crich
Isaac Coleman son 20 Stone mason Crich
Polly Coleman daughter 18 Factoryhand machine minder Crich
William Coleman son 11 School Crich
Bertha Coleman daughter 8   Crich
Tom Coleman son 6 School Crich
Percy Coleman son 4   Crich
Richard Hambleton father in law 78 Parochial relief Crich

RG13 piece 3231 folio 44 page 8

1911: Crich

Forename Surname Relationship Age Occupation Where born
Aaron Coleman Head 54 Limestone rockman Crich
Elizabeth Coleman wife 51   Crich
Isaac Coleman son 30 Builders mason Crich
Luke Coleman son 23 Limestone rockman Crich
Tom Coleman son 16 Limestone rockman Crich
Purcy Coleman son 14 Farm hand Crich
Isaac Coleman brother (wdwr) 44 Limestone rockman Crich

RG14PN20984 RG78PN1251 RD436 SD4 ED13 SN164

1918 Voters List Crich
Tom Coleman, The Common; absent on military service.

1939 Register: New Road, Crich
Thomas Coleman b.13 March 1895; railway plate layer, heavy work
Laura L Coleman b.22 June 1887
Dennis C Coleman b.18 May 1921; incapacitated, sewing machine mechanic
Avis M Marsh (Coleman) b.22 March 1923; German steamer hosiery