Son of Mr. George Henry Tomlinson and Mrs. Annie Tomlinson, of 40, Silk Street, Congleton, Cheshire, and husband of Mrs. Emma Tomlinson, (nee Aspell), of 21, New Street, Congleton, Cheshire. They were married in a Civil Ceremony at Congleton, Cheshire, on the 3rd of June 1911. He had one child, Jacob Tomlinson, He had four sisters, Hannah, Edna, Alice and Dinah Elizabeth Tomlinson, along with four brothers, William, Arthur, George and John Herbert Tomlinson. In 1911, he was boarding with a Mr. Daniel Thomas, at 23, Canal Street, Congleton, Cheshire. He was employed as a Cotton Bleacher and later as a Bricklayers Labourer.
Private Jacob Tomlinson enlisted in the Cheshire Regiment at Macclesfield on the 31st of August 1914 at the age of 26. He was posted to the 8th Battalion on the 3rd of September 1914 followed by a posting to Bedford where he joined the 11th Battalion on the 18th of September 1914. He remained in England until the 25th of September 1915 when he embarked from Southampton for France. He saw some severe fighting prior to the Battle of the Somme, in the early days of which he met his death. Three other brothers, William, Arthur, and George Tomlinson, served with the colours, It was the third day of the Battle of the Somme. The village of Thiepval had been an objective of the first hours on the 1st of July, but had still not been captured. On the 2nd of July the 11th Battalion the Cheshire Regiment received orders that they would take part in an assault on a German Stronghold known as the Leipzig Salient, south of the village and they moved forward to assembly positions near Martinsart Wood. The planning for the attack, by the higher echelons of command seems to have been poor as the plan for the attack was revised at almost the last moment and the details were not notified to the Battalion until 3 hours before zero hour at 03:00 hours In consequence it was necessary to delay the assault for another three hours. The Regimental History notes that while the infantry received new orders, the artillery did not. So, they started their barrage three hours early and when they had to try and repeat the process to cover the actual attack, they found they had insufficient ammunition and could only fire for a short while, it was to have disastrous consequences. The Cheshire's " went over the top" on schedule at 06:20 hours accompanied by the 8th Battalion, the Border Regiment. The Battalion War Diary records that they passed over No Man's Land in perfect order but about 50 yards from the German trench, heavy machine gun fire brought the attack to a standstill Line after line of troops were mown down ". The Commanding Officer Colonel Aspinall was killed and every Company commander became a casualty. The Adjutant, Captain Hill took command. He " decided to get the men still living back into the trench they had jumped off from and to hold it as a defence line The Regimental History records that " On the morning of the 4th of July no organised body of men existed. One simply ran about No Man's Land collecting men here and there. Of the 677 soldiers who had gone into action, only 356 were able to answer roll call on the 4th. The rest were dead, wounded or missing. Amongst the dead were Congleton soldiers, Private Jacob Tomlinson and Private Frederick Wright.
Extract from the Congleton Chronicle 1916.
What a warring, what a terrible time we have gone through since August 1914, when Private Jacob Tomlinson first joined the glorious Cheshire's conscious of the fact that great things would have to be achieved before the halcyon days of peace would be restored. First the departure of Congleton men to the seat of war, with the attendant leave takings, the heroic endeavour to stem the mad torrent of the Huns, the harrowing tales of devastation and butchery, the sad news of Congleton men being killed and broken in the fight for freedom. Then came the great rally, the grip of the handle controlling the war machine, the checking of the merciless raid into France and after a long and patient effort there came tangible results from the Battle of Verdun and the Great Push and now comes an offer of Peace from the Central Powers. It is all very bewildering to the lay mind and the only thing that we can understand is that the Grim Reaper has had an abundant harvest and that our brave lads have gone through experiences since Private Tomlinson, joined up the like of which we in Congleton can have but a shadowy conception. In connection with the latest victim of Prussian militarism, it is necessary to incidentally mention one form of minor activity„ viz, the raids or (cutting out parties), which are periodically made against the enemy's lines. They consist of a brief attack, with some special object, on a section of opposing trenches, usually carried out at night by a small body of men. The character of these operations gives peculiar scope to the gallantry, dash and quickness of the troops engaged, and much skill and daring are not infrequently displayed. Comrades of Private Tomlinson assert that when engaged in such operations his sangfroid never deserted him and he did his work with a smile on his face. It was ever thus with "Jake" as his intimate friends were wont to call him, he was a true sport and affable friend and although details are not given in the official announcement as to the manner of his passing, we now know that he died a glorious death and one well calculated to instil a spirit of pardonable pride in the breasts of those who mourn his loss. Some weeks ago, a rumour gained currency that Private Tomlinson had been killed, but no credence was attached to what after all was mere hearsay. After many weeks of weary waiting the sad intelligence was conveyed to Mrs. Tomlinson in the following Official Notification that her husband had indeed made the greatest of all sacrifices.
It is my painful duty to inform you that a report has this day been received from the War Office notifying the death of Private Jacob Tomlinson, of the Cheshire Regiment, which occurred at (place not stated) on the 3rd of July, 1916 and I am to express to you the sympathy and regret of the Army Council at your loss. The cause of his death was killed in action.
A message of sympathy from His Majesty the King and the Queen, through Mr, Lloyd George has been received by Mrs. Tomlinson, in addition to many letters of sympathy from those who knew the dead soldier.
Cheshire County Memorial Project would like to thank John and Christopher Pullen for this research on Jacob.