From World War I Document Archive
Revision as of 07:18, 3 August 2006 by Hirgen
Thomas Ricketts (1901-1967) Born Middle Arm, White Bay, Newfoundland, the son of John and Amelia (Castle) Ricketts. Thomas enlisted in the Royal Newfoundland Regiment in 1916 by claiming to be older than he was. By 1917 he was fighting in Flanders, had seen action at Steenbeek and received a leg wound at Cambrai.
Rickets was back in Flanders, near Ledeghem in October of 1918. In an attack that began at 5:35am, October 14th, the Regiment moved out led by B company an quickly silenced 3 pillboxes, they were aided by a heavy ground mist that made it difficult to see them. By 10:30am however this mist had cleared off by a breeze and they were facing a river that was six feet deep that had to be crossed in full view of the Germans. After crossing this river with heavy losses the Regiment advanced another 1000 yard to d'Hondt farm where they were held up by shelling from Drie Masten. They were out of contact with the English guns and the shells were taking their toll on the troops.
Lt Newman of B Company led a group of men with a Lewis gun to the right to outflank the German Battery. By the time they were about 300 yards from the German guns they ran out of ammunition. Thomas Ricketts volunteered to go back to get some more ammunition, he ran 100 yards accross a fire swept field to a trench where there was some ammunition and back again to deliver the needed supplies. Upon his return Pte. Ricketts and Sgt Matthew Brazil, the only two unwounded men, drove the Germans from their gun position. As a result of this action the Platoon was now able to advance, capturing four feild guns, four machine guns, and eight prisoners.
The Regiment reorganized and pressed on and dug in about 500 yards west of Steenbeek, the advances made on October 14th had placed the 28th Brigade farther east than any other part of the Second Army.
For his part in this action Pte Thomas Ricketts was presented with the Victoria Cross by King George V in Jan 1918. He was the youngest soldier ever to be presented this award. Thomas was also awarded the Croix de Guerre.
After the war, Thomas returned to Newfoundland and began studies in pharmacy, eventually he opened his own business on Water Street in St John's. Thomas Ricketts, a very shy man was given a state funeral when he died in 1967. A commerative plaque in his memory still marks the site of his pharmacy in St John's.
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