T. F. Wellington
Service no. 70152
Driver, Royal Engineers, L.Z. Cable Section
Born in Southwark; enlisted in Houghton Regis, Bedfordshire; lived in Lambeth
Killed in action on 2 July 1915, aged 26
CWGC: “Son of Mrs Rose Cockman, of 22 Horace Street, South Lambeth, London.”
Remembered at Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial, Ypres, Belgium
British Army WWI Service Records 1914-1920
On 10 August 1915, less than a month after Thomas Frederick Wellington was killed in action at Ypres, the Royal Engineers Records Office wrote to his bereaved mother, Rose Cockman: “Special information has been received,” they said, ” … He was killed in action 2/7/15 and was buried behind Signal Station at Zillebeke, appros: Square L.22.D Map Belgium Sheet 28. 1/40,000.” But somehow Wellington’s remains ended up missing, and he is remembered instead on the panels of the Menin Gate Memorial and at Stockwell.
The Records Officer’s letter crossed with one of Mrs. Cockman’s in which she asked about the whereabouts of her son’s will and “small book”. These were not in his custody, the officer told her, in a letter sent the following day. However, Wellington’s personal effects were sent on. They indicate a man of careful and organised habits. As well as the usual watch, pipe, diary, letters, handkerchiefs, gloves, and so on, they included a holdall containing a razor, two toothbrushes, a lather brush, shaving soap and housewife (a small sewing kit for making repairs to uniforms). And, naturally, his driver’s licence.
Wellington’s Army career was solid, with no conduct issues. He started out in the London Army Troops of the Royal Engineers. He stayed 139 days and was discharged “in consequence of joining regular army.” He transferred to the London Signals Training Centre and from there on 16 December 1914 went to Houghton Regis, Bedfordshire, where the Electrical Signalling Branch the School of Military Engineering was based. He went to France on 26 December.
Thomas Frederick Wellington, 5 feet 6 or 8 inches tall (depending on who was doing the measuring – both heights are given in his records), weighing over 10½ stone, with a 36 inch chest (which he could expand by 3 inches), was judged “good” in physical development. He had a fair complexion, dark grey eyes and light brown hair. In civilian life he had a varied career: from “ticket printer” in 1911, to engineer’s photographer when joining the Army in 1914. He also described himself as a draughtsman. He left 8 siblings (full and half).
Information from the 1911 census
Thomas Wellington, a 21-year-old ticket printer, lived with his mother, stepfather, sister and step-siblings at 15 Horace Street (now gone – replaced by a Local Authority housing estate), Stockwell. Charles Booth, in his poverty map of 1886-1903 described Horace Street as “poor and crowded”. Thomas’s mother, Rose Cockman, 44, from Torrington, Essex, had married Ernest Cockman, 39, a timber carman from Wandsworth, in about 1894. She had at least two children from her previous marriage: Thomas and Rose Wellington, 10, both born in Southwark. With Ernest she had a further three: Ernest Cockman, 6; Dorothy Cockman, 4; and Edith Cockman, 2, all born in South Lambeth.