Thicknesse, Francis William

The eldest son of the Reverend Prebendary Francis Norman Thicknesse (C 1871-1876) Rector of St George’s, Hanover Square. His mother was Mary Sibylla Thicknesse, daughter of the Reverend Joseph Walker, Vice Principal of Brasenose College, Oxford. They lived at St George’s Rectory, 15 Grosvenor Street, London. His great nephew, Major General Huw Pike (I, 1956-1960) had a distinguished career in the Army, and his grandmother, Thicknesse’s sister Bridget, had married Hopperite Major General Reginald Tompson (I 1893-1898) in 1915. Their son Hew Tompson (I 1933-1937) was killed in Libya in 1942.

He entered College from Cordwalles School, played in College XV and in 1904 passed second into Woolwich, obtaining his commission in 1906 in the Royal Garrison Artillery. The family story was that he passed out sixteenth deliberately, as the top fifteen were at that stage being sent to the Royal Signals. At the outbreak of war he was serving on the staff in Hong Kong (he spoke Mandarin Chinese) and did not reach the front until May 1915.

He commanded 122 Heavy Battery of the RGA for more than two years from June 1916, the Battery being in action throughout the Somme.  They then joined the Australians to support their attacks on Bullecourt and then saw further action at Messines.  He received the D.S.O. in May 1917 and was twice mentioned in Despatches. On one occasion, when a German bomb had fallen into a gun pit full of ammunition, Thicknesse went down and brought it out before it could explode. He was recommended for promotion to Brigade-Major.   122 Battery served for much of the time in the Ypres area, near Hooge and Hill 60.  It therefore participated in the Third Battle of Ypres, otherwise known as Passchendaele. He was mortally wounded on 19th October 1917 while looking for an observation post for his own and other batteries near Ypres and died the same night. On his tombstone the family placed the inscription: MILES PACIFICUS STRENUUS FIDELIS ET DEO DEVOTUS (A peaceful, energetic, loyal soldier, devoted to God.)

War: World War 1

  • Surname: Thicknesse
  • Forenames or initials: Francis William
  • House: College
  • Years in School: 1899-1904
  • Rank: Major
  • Regiment: Royal Garrison Artillery
  • Date of Birth: 8th May 1886
  • Date of Death: 19th October 1917
  • How Died: Died of wounds
  • Location in War Cloister: Outer B5
  • Decoration: DSO