Rolls of Honour: St Luke’s, Eccleshill; Thiepval Monument
Regiment: Sherwood Foresters
Marmeduke Thornton, known as Duke, was born in 1897 in Bolton, Lancashire, the son of Thomas Thornton and Lillie Maud Warburton.By 1901 the family had moved to Bradford and were living at 350 Killinghall Road.Duke’s mother Lillie died in 1903 aged 32 years and was buried on the 27th March 1903 in St Luke’s churchyard. Thomas re-married at St Luke’s Church in 1904 to Janet Mitchell who was a widow and in 1911 they were living at 358 Killinghall Road .At the time of Duke’s enlistment his father Thomas was the proprietor of the Oak Lane Cinema
and the family were living at 336 Killinghall Road. Duke enlisted in 1915 as Private 202355 in the 2/5th Battalion of the Sherwood Foresters (Notts. and Derby Regiment) under the name of Richard Thornton. This name appears on all his World War 1 documents. In April 1916 his battalion moved to Ireland to quell disturbances and did not depart for the Western Front until 1917 landing at Le Havre on the 26th of February. Duke’s Battalion were involved in action when the German army retreated to the Hindenberg line between the 14th March to the 5th of April 1917 and it is probable that
he lost his life during this period although records state that he was killed in action on the 4th of May 1917 when the Arras offensive was taking place. His battalion were not involved in these battles. A letter from an officer indicates that there had been a delay in finding his body.The letter to his father states “I am very sorry I have not been able to let you know before now of your great loss but his body has only just been recovered. “He was one of the finest fellows in the company and a great favourite chiefly owing to his good humour and willingness even under the most trying circumstances.
“The whole company and the officers send you their deepest sympathy and we mourn a very fine soldier. I feel that the greatest honour I can give you son is to say that I wish all the men in the company were like him.”Duke was 19 years of age and he is remembered on the Thiepval memorial although his body must have been buried at the time of his death.He left his effects to his father Thomas who received £3.8.2d on the 31st January 1918 and a War Gratuity of £3.0.0d on the 19th of December 1919.
Researched and written by Jean Britteon, to whom many thanks