As part of our project to document the names on the Duncan Cenotaph in Charles Hoey Park, here is a page about Private Thomas Ethelbert Tombs, who died 19 November 1916 while serving in France on the Somme with the 50th Battalion, Canadian Infantry. He is buried in Adanac Military Cemetery, Miraumont, France.
It should be noted that while the local Cowichan Leader newspaper reports of his death state his age as 17 1/2, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission records show his age as 16 at the time of his death.
Here are the reports of Thomas Ethelbert Tomb’s death in the local Cowichan Leader newspaper:
“Pte. T.E. Tombs
In the casualty list of July 29th  the name of Pte. Thomas Ethelbert Tombs is among those who are presumed to have died. He was the eldest son of the late Mr. T.E. Tombs and Mrs. Tombs, Quamichan Hotel, Duncan, and was a hardworking member of the Cowichan Valley Cadet Corps. He went overseas with the 88th Bn., and served in France with the 50th. Bn., being reported missing on November 19th, 1916. He was born in Tenbury Wells, Worcestershire, England 17 1/2 years ago [Note: the Commonwealth War Graves Commission shows his age as 16].”
“Pte. T.E. Tombs
Pte. Thomas Ethelbert Tombs, Duncan, is reported missing since November 19th [1916 – the day after the Battle of the Somme ended]. He would not be 17 until this month and was born in Tenbury Wells, Worcestershire, England, the eldest son of Mr. and Mrs. T.E. Tombs, of the Quamichan Hotel, Duncan, who have been here some three years. Pte. Tombs was a member of the Cowichan Valley Cadet Corps and left school to join the 88th Bn. With them he trained at Victoria and Otterpool and last October  he was transferred to the 50th Bn. and went to France. Everyone hopes that good news may soon be heard of him.”
Private Thomas Ethelbert Tombs’ father, Thomas Ethelbert Tombs (1863-1916) died in Duncan in December 1916, a few days after the above report 7 December 1916 was published in the Cowichan Leader on 7 December 1916. Although the local newspaper reports of his death do not mention the cause of his death, the timing might suggest that grief over the death of his eldest son may have been a contributing factor. Thomas Ethelbert Tombs is buried in St. Peters Quamichan Anglican Cemetery, Duncan.
Here are some websites with more information about Private Thomas Ethelbert Tombs:
- Commonwealth War Graves Commission
- Adanac Military Cemetery, Miraumont, France
- Sir Herbert Baker, designer of Adanac Military Cemetery
- Battle of the Somme – Canadian War Museum
- Battle of the Somme – Canadian Encyclopedia
- Battle of the Somme – Wikipedia
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