Thomas Edward Cross

“The big guns are making an awful noise, sending a few iron rations over to Fritz.”

When the Great War broke out, many men enlisted as a lark—a chance to wear a snappy uniform and to get a free trip to Europe. “Over by Christmas,” was the famous expression.

But when the casualty rolls started appearing in local newspapers, the ghastly toll of the fighting grew clear.

On November 2, 1916, the Norwood Register of Norwood, Ontario, ran the following headline: “Casualty List Heavy This Week for Norwood.”

For Jane Cross, it was a sad reminder of news received less than two weeks earlier of the death of her husband and the father of her seven children, Thomas Edward Cross.

“Dear Mrs. Cross,” wrote nursing sister SW Parry-Jones. “I am extremely sorry to tell you that your husband 195768 Pte Thos Cross was admitted last night (October 16) with severe shrapnel wound of the abdomen and died at 1:35 this morning. During the few hours that he was with us he received every possible care and attention and all within human power was done for him here. You have indeed my true and deepest sympathy in your heavy sorrow.”

Cross enlisted on February 16, 1916, with the 57th Regiment, two months shy of his 33rd birthday. In France, he was assigned to the 5th Canadian Mounted Rifles.

Just five days prior to his death, Thomas had written a letter home. Dated October 11, 1916, the letter mentions that the Canadians have been shelling the Germans mercilessly: “The big guns are making an awful noise, sending a few iron rations over to Fritz.” A few lines later, Thomas asks Jane to send his love to their children.

“How is little Willie and the rest of the children? I would like to see them all for it is awful lonesome being away from you so long.”

Written on the back of the letter was a note from Thomas’s commanding officer, informing his wife of her husband’s wound.

“Your husband has just received a wound and has asked me to add this to his letter. He will be all right. The wound is not very serious, but will take him back to good old England.”

Thomas Cross is buried at Warloy-Baillon Communal Cemetery Extension, France.

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