PYKETT Tom Downs

Known information

The Pykett family from Ayston suffered more than most during the First World War. Tom Downs Pykett and his elder brother Arthur and younger brother Harry all went off to fight. Tom and Harry were killed, Arthur survived. Two of their cousins, Frank and James Pykett, also living in Ayston were killed as well. Tom was the middle son of George and Amelia Pykett. The family was originally from Exton, and Tom was born in Wardley. The family later moved to Ayston closer to their cousins who were already living there. Tom was a carrier's assistant before the war. He joined up on 31 March 1916, and served in France with the 1st Battalion Leicestershire Regiment, where he was killed in action on the morning of the 15 September during the Battle of the Somme. The Leicestershire's were part of 71st Infantry Brigade which took part in an ambitious attack aimed at capturing Morval, Lesbouefs, Gueudecourt and Flers. The battalion war diary described what happened: "At about 5.50am two enemy aeroplanes appeared above us but did not stay long. About this time also a tank was noticed on our right moving quietly up to the enemy's front line. On arriving there he immediately opened fire with his machine guns enfilading the German trenches on either side. He was very heavily fired on by the enemy's machine guns which apparently had no effect." Zero hour was fixed for 6.20am. "The leading Companies advanced at the walk at 30 yards distance between lines. A heavy machine gun was immediately opened by the enemy. The support Companies followed in the same formation 300 yards in rear of last wave of leading Company." Things were beginning to go wrong. "The mist and smoke was terribly thick and allowed no observation by support Companies and Battalion HQ as to exactly what was happening...throughout the advance the battalion suffered very heavily from machine gun fire...and held up by very strong and undamaged wire in front of Quadrilateral [a German strong point]." The attack petered out and eventually the Leicestershires were forced to withdraw with casualties of 14 officers and 410 men killed and wounded, including four others from Rutland. Tom has no known grave and today is remembered on Pier 3A of the Thiepval Memorial and also on the war memorial inside the church at Ayston.

See where all our Rutland soldiers died during the Battle of the Somme on our interactive map.

See below for more family information.

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  • Ayston Church
  • Ayston interior
  • Ayston Memorial
  • Thiepval Memorial
  • Pier 3a
  • T D Pykett

User contributions

Thomas Downs Pykett was born in Wardley to parents George and Amelia Pykett. His father was born in Exton and his mother in Collyweston, Northants.Apart from Harry who was also killed in WWI he had two brothers Arthur and Charles Pykett. I have no information that Arthur went to war. He also had a sister Eliza Ann who died at about six months.
By Wellandlass on Friday 24th October '14 at 7:02pm
Tom Downs Pykett has his mother's maiden name Downs.His mother Amelia who married George Pykett was the sister of Eliza who was married to James Pykett. Two brothers, George and James Pykett married two sisters at Collyweston Parish Church.How do I find out that Arthur Pykett served in WWI?
By Wellandlass on Saturday 25th October '14 at 1:55pm

Rutland and The Battle of the Somme

More than 90 Rutland soldiers died in the Battle of the Somme which lasted from 1 July 1916 until the middle of November. Today they lie in cemeteries across the old battlefield in northern France or are remembered among the 72,000 names on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme. By using our interactive map, you can find out what happened to them.

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