April 1915

Second Battle of Ypres

The second battle of Ypres (22 April – 25 May 1915) is notorious for the first use of toxic chlorine gas on the Western Front, but also famous for the heroic stance made by Canadian forces in checking the German advance. Among them was Private Thomas Worsley, who was born in Adlington 18 September 1891, and baptised at St Paul’s. Prior to emigrating to Canada in 1911, he had worked on the Lever estate at Rivington. He was one of many young men who had planned to make a new life in the Empire, but returned to fight for the mother country. He enlisted in the Edmonton Fusiliers at Alberta, two days after the declaration of war and came to England for training in October 1914. He was then attached to the 3rd Bn. Canadian Infantry, Central Ontario Regiment.

The Commonwealth War Grave Commission’s citation gives the date of his death as 24 April, right at the start of the month-long battle, but such was the chaos and carnage that although he was reported missing on 2 May, it was only in October 1916 that his parents, then living in Bolton, received the official confirmation of his death.