Thomas Stanley ‘Tom’ Driver was born and raised in Chelmsford, educated at the town’s Grammar School and followed his father into the printing trade. He joined the predecessor to the part-time Essex Yeomanry in 1902 and was still with them at the outbreak of the war when mobilized, later gaining a Commission to become an officer. He married, survived the war but was killed by the influenza pandemic in December 1918. His home was in Queen’s Road and his father was an Alderman on Chelmsford’s Borough Council.
DRIVER, THOMAS STANLEY, Lieutenant, 4th Reserve Cavalry Regiment
(formerly of the Essex Regiment, Essex Imperial Yeomanry and Essex Yeomanry)
His application was successful so on 6th June 1915 Tom was transferred from the British Expeditionary Force to England ‘on being nominated for a Commission in the 3/1st Essex Yeomanry.’ His final day as an ‘other rank’ was 10th June 1915, by which time he had served for 13 years and 152 days with the Essex Yeomanry and its predecessor.
On 8th January 1917 Tom was transferred from 3/1st Essex Yeomanry to the 2nd Reserve Regiment of Cavalry and he later moved to the 4th Cavalry Reserve Regiment and survived the war to see the Armistice on 11th November 1918.
Any happiness at the war’s end was to be short-lived: Tom’s brother George, of 25 Tindal Street. Chelmsford, died, aged 38, on 24th November 1918 from pneumonia following influenza. He was buried at Springfield Holy Trinity Church on 28th November 1918. He left an estate valued at £1653 11s.
Just four days later, at 1.20 a.m. on 2nd December 1918, Tom died from influenza at The Acacias in Springfield Road, Chelmsford while home on leave. At the time he was stationed in Aldershot. He was buried at Springfield Holy Trinity Church on 4th December 1918.
On 6th December 1918 the Essex County Chronicle included a family announcement of Tom’s death:
“Driver. - On Dec. 2nd, at the Acacias, Springfield, Chelmsford, of pneumonia, Lieut. Thomas S. Driver, 4th R. H. Dragoons, late Essex Yeomanry, beloved husband of Maud E. Driver and second son of Albert Driver, of The Acacias, Springfield, Chelmsford, in his 37th year.”
The same edition also reported:
“Death of Lieut. T. S. Driver - Chelmsford Family’s Heavy Bereavement. - Last week we recorded the death of Mr. G. A. Driver, eldest son of Mr., Councillor Driver, of the Acacias, Chelmsford, from pneumonia following influenza, Today it is our sad duty to report the death of Lieut. Thomas Stanley Driver, 4th Res. Regiment of Dragoons, second son of Councillor Driver, from the same scourge. Lieut. Driver came home on weekend leave, and was taken ill the day after his brother’s died. His condition became critical, and Doctors Newton and Asford, who were in constant attendance, called in a specialist, Dr. Mitchell Bruce, who arrived late on Sunday afternoon.
All efforts, however, were unavailing, and Lieut. Driver passed away early on Monday morning, a week after his brother’s death, at the age of 36. Few young men in Chelmsford were more popular than unassuming, genial ‘Tom Driver’ as he was familiarly termed, and few have done more for the Volunteer Forces, a movement in which he was very keen right up to the last.
He joined the old V.B.E.R. over twenty years ago as a drummer, and later transferred to the Cyclists’ Corps. On the formation of the Essex Yeomanry he was one of the first to enrol, and by his keenness secured steady promotion until be became Sergt.-Mayor. Mobilised at the outbreak of war, he was one of the first to volunteer for foreign service, and he left for France with the first contingent of the Essex Yeomanry; who soon proved their worth. He was in that memorable charge at Ypres on May 13, 1915, when his regiment lost so heavily, and although he escaped with a sound skin he received a severe shock. He was several times urged to take up a commission, but for a long time he declined, preferring to remain with his old comrades. Ultimately, however, he accepted a commission, was posted to the Cavalry Reserve.
On leaving France to take up his commission he was presented by the late Capt. Egerton-Green with a sword, while his comrades in the war gave him a handsome clock. For the last two years he was bombing-instructor and gas officer of his brigade. Some thousands of men passed through his hands for the various theatres of wars, and Lieut., Driver, always complimented upon his excellent training, was regarded as one of our most efficient instructors. Bombing was recently done away with for the cavalry, and Lieut. Driver’s services were to have been utilised in the highly important work of demobilisation as a record officer. In the pre-war days he was the promoter of many successful Yeomanry balls at the Shire Hall, an annual function which was always looked forward to with great pleasure. He was also prominently associated the now defunct Yeomanry Club. On leaving King Edward VI School he joined his father in the printing and stationery establishment in Tindal Street, and became the active head of the printing works. He married, in 1912, Miss Maud Quilter, of Pleshey Bury, and she survives him; there are no children.
The funeral took lace on Wednesday at Holy Trinity Church, Springfield, with full military honours, in the presence of a very large gathering. Beside the official party of troops from Aldershot many if the n.c.o.’s and men of the Yeomanry made the long journey at their own expense to pay sad tribute to one they revered. The whole of the Essex Yeomanry at Aldershot volunteered to take part, but all could not be spared. There were also present many former members of the Yeomanry and ex-service men. Sec.-Lts. Hannan, Strong, Richardson, Drummond, Chippendale, and Brown, Cavalry, acted as pall-bearers. Capt. Allfrey and Sec.-Lt. Collis, Yeomanry, wee in command of the firing arty and escort, which consisted of cavalrymen, including Yeomen. The coffin was covered with the Union Jack, upon which rested the deceased officer;s hat and presentation sword. Six black horses drew the gun carriage; two landaus conveyed wreaths and other floral tributes were carried by the military escort. Captain, the Rev. C. Pierrepont Edwards, M.C., C.F., vicar of West Mersea, a former n.c.o., of the Essex Yeomanry, officiated.
The first part of the Burial Service as taken in the church. The organist, Mr. G. Brown, played ‘O rest in the Lord’ as the sad procession entered the church, the choir was present and assisted with the hymns, which were ‘Jesu lover of my soul; and ‘Please perfect peace’. Captain Edwards, in a brief address, sad they had been painfully familiar with death during the last four and a half years - the death of the best, the brightest, the cleverest of our face, who, loving England as they loved it, had been content, for England’s sake, to make the great sacrifice. As one who knew their deceased comrade in the early days, when people did not believe war would ever come, when the Essex Imperial Yeomanry, as it them was, was formed, he and the deceased joined it within a very short time of one another just 17 years ago. He had not seen much of the deceased for the last four and a half years, but the estimate he formed of him that was a white man, who feared God, and was not ashamed to his dependance upon the divine grace. That life......[illegible]”
There was also an extensive report in the day’s Essex Weekly News:
“Chelmsford officer’s sad death. Survivor of Essex Yeomanry’s gallant charge. We regret to announce the death of Lieut. Thomas Stanley Driver of the 4th R. R. Dragoons, second son of Mr. Albert Driver, which occurred from pneumonia following influenza at his father’s residence, The Acacias, Springfield, early on Monday morning, Lt. Driver, who came home on leave last week to see his late brother, Mr. George A. Driver, was taken ill with influenza on Tuesday, Nov. 25 (two days after his brother’s death), and was unable to present during the latter’s funeral on the Thursday. He was attended by Drs. Newton and Alford, and when pneumonia developed on Saturday they summoned that well-known specialist, Dr. Mitchell Bruce who saw Lt. Driver on Sunday. The deceased officer, who was 37 years of age, was educated at Chelmsford Grammar School and saw 20 years’ service in the old Volunteer Forces. He first joined the old V.B.E.R. as a drummer, then transferred to the Cyclist Corps, and on the formation of the Essex Yeomanry, in the raising of which he rendered active assistance, he joined with that unit. He attained the rank of sergeant-major, and for a number of years organised the annual regimental ball. On the outbreak of war he was one of the first to volunteer for service in France, and he took part in the charge at Ypres in May, 1915, when the Essex Yeomanry sustained heavy casualties and Col. E. Deacon, commandant, was killed. Subsequently the gallant soldier was given a commission and posted to the Cavalry Reserve, and at the time of his death he was bombing officer with the 4th R.R. Dragoons. He was considered a most efficient instructor, and had been chosen to act as a record officer under the demobilisation scheme. The deceased officer married Miss Maud Quilter, of Pleshey Bury, who survives him, but is unfortunately suffering from influenza. Always a very smart soldier the late Lt. Driver was exceedingly popular with all ranks, and when he returned home to take up his commission he brought with him some handsome gifts from the officers of his old Yeomanry regiment.
The funeral took place with military honours at Holy Trinity churchyard, Springfield, on Wednesday. Four sergeants, six corporal, and about twenty men of the old Essex Yeomanry came voluntarily from Aldershot to attend the funeral, and a firing part was furnished by the 4th R.R. Dragoons. The coffin was conveyed from The Acacias to the church on a gun carriage, being covered by a Union Jack, on which rested the deceased officer’s sword (which was presented to him in France by the late Capt. Egerton Green), his cap, and accoutrements. Sec.-Lts. Hannam, Strong, Richardson, Drummond, Chippendale, and Brown acted as pall bearers; Sec.-Lt. Collis was in command of the firing party; and Capt. Allfrey also attended.
Capt. the Rev. Pierrepont C. Edwards, M.C., vicar of West Mersea, and formerly of the Essex Yeomanry officiated. The hymns sung in the church were ‘Jesu, Lover of my Soul’, and ‘Peace, perfect peace’, Mr. G. Brown, who was at the organ. played ‘O rest in the Lord’ before the service ad the Dead March at the close. In the course of an impressive address in church Capt. Edwards said: We have been painfully familiar with death during the last four and a half years - the death of the best, brightest, and cleanest of our race, who loved England as we love it, and have been content for England’s sake to make the great sacrifice. I knew our comrade in the early days, when people did not believe that war would ever come, when the Essex Imperial Yeomanry, as it was then, was formed. We joined it, he and I, within a very short time of one another. That is just 17 years ago. I have not seem much of out comrade during the last four and half years, but the estimate I formed of him was that he was a white man, who feared God, and was not ashamed to acknowledge his dependence upon Divine grace - At the graveside the firing of three volleys and the sounding of the Last Post brought a very impressive ceremony to a close.”
The April 1919 edition of the King Edward VI’s Grammar School’s publication, The Chelmsfordian Magazine, reported:
“Two well-known Old Boys passed away last term - George Albert Driver dying one Sunday, and his brother Tom on the following Monday week. George Driver was a well-known local figure, and for some years was Assistant Hon. Sec. to the Old Chelmsfordians’ Association - any aid he could give the School was always gladly and willingly rendered. Tom Driver was also a victim of influenza, which he caught when on leave for his brother’s funeral. A stalwart volunteer in the old days, he went through the recent war - at first with the Yeomanry, and later as an officer in the cavalry reserve - only to succumb to the prevailing malady. Both he and his brother were quiet and unassuming men, but both will be greatly missed.”
Tom is commemorated on the Civic Centre Memorial, Chelmsford, on the Springfield Parish Memorial at All Saints’ Church, and by the Chelmsford Parish Great War Memorial in Chelmsford Cathedral. He was entitled to the 1914-15 Star, British War Medal, and Victory Medal.
The 1918 register of electors listed Tom’s father Albert Driver at the Acacias and the absent Tom at 25 Tindal Street.
Tom left an estate valued ar £1646 2s. 6d.
Tom’s father Albert (pictured) was to die at The Acacias on 30th January 1921 from heart disease, leaving an estate valued at £32,261 2s. 1d.. The week’s Essex Chronicle carried a detailed account of his life:
“ALDERMAN DRIVER Passes Away at Chelmsford. Man of Many Parts.
A picturesque and popular personality passed away at Chelmsford on Sunday morning, when Mr. Albert Driver died suddenly, after a fortnight's illness, at his residence, the Acacias, Springfield Road. He was 68 years age and widower, and he leaves two sons and one daughter, Messrs. Robert V. and John E. Driver, and Mrs. Fred. Luckin Smith, jun.
The fatal illness was known myocarditis, or degeneration of the muscles of the heart. The patient suffered no pain - only difficulty in breathing during heart attacks - but he unfortunately got very little sleep.
On Friday, however, he seemed appreciably better after several hours' sleep. On Saturday night he became worse again shortly after 9 o'clock on Sunday morning he was visited by his medical attendant, Dr. Newton whom he told he would like to see one or two people during the day. This permission was given, and a cheerful leave-taking ensued, but the doctor had hardly got out of the house before the patient turned over in his bed and passed quietly away.
Doctors Newton and Alford and two trained nurses had attended Mr. Driver with the greatest care, and a specialist from Harley Street on Sunday week in consultation, but it was apparent that from the time he had to take to his bed it was a critical case with very little livelihood recovery.
Albert Driver was a man many parts and a cheery nature, but he suffered three great blows in succession by the death of his wife in March 1915, and the deaths of his sons George and Thomas Stanley (late Essex Yeomanry and Dragoon Guards) of influenza and pneumonia within a week of one another in October 1918. By a remarkable coincidence the deaths of mother and sons, and now of the father, were all on Sunday.
Mr. Driver was born at Halstead. in county, and apprenticed to the trade in that town. He then went to a printing office in London for a time, and years ago he came the Essex Chronicle Office at Chelmsford, where served most faithfully for many years,
He soon became well known and liked, especially as a sportsman. He was one of the first to ride bicycle, and excelled as a bowler at cricket. The Essex Chronicle in those days running a team which scored many a famous victory over Chelmsford Town and other local elevens.
Albert was very successful with the ball having a style of his own and a good eye for the middle slump with it. He also became the local hop skip and jump champion. He maintained an interest in sport and birds and animals all his life, as the subsequent record shows.
After a time his wife and he established a newsagent and stationer's business at No. 2.Tindal Street, Chelmsford - now forming part the works The Essex Chronicle - and twenty-nine years ago his business was moved to where it now is into premises previously occupied Mr. Page, oil and colour merchant. This business rapidly grew, and Mr. Driver added a printing office his own, which now carried on by his son John Edward, after service in the war.
In 1889 Mr. Driver entered into partnership with Mr. G. B. Ling the marine store business in Union Yard. This business grew greatly and the partnership developed direction of farming, the firm securing Park Farm. Pleshey, twenty-three years ago, which Mr. Driver looked after till within a fortnight of his death, spending three or four days regularly every week on the farm, rearing splendid fat cattle and magnificent crops, especially wheat. He was the owner of several silver cups as championship prizes for cattle in Chelmsford Christmas market, and last Christmas he established a record for the market by selling there four cattle for £350.
He was always keen man for business, and he owned many houses and shop properties in Chelmsford, including those known as the Half-Moon block in the High Street, which he once offered the Town Council for town improvement at the few hundred pounds for which he secured them. Twice the Council discussed the acquisition, deciding against it by a very small majority the second occasion, and now the properties are worth something like four times the price.
Mr. Driver did a lot of good stealth. Many a kind act could be told of him which he would not like to hear spoken about. He was very successful in business, but, whatever success he achieved, he always remained the same genial, kindly man. He was ever ready to help a good cause, and his love of birds led him to be one the founders and afterwards the hon. treasurer the Chelmsford Ornithological Society, for his services to which the members presented him with handsome clock.
Then he was interested in the local the town of his adoption. On the occasion the reception of the Charter of Incorporation at Chelmsford on September 19th, 1888, he acted as one of the marshals of the great demonstration which then took place.
Yet withal was a modest man, and it was not until November, 1907, that he could induced to become a candidate for civic honours. He was returned at the top of the poll in the South Ward that year, and continued Councillor with equal success until Nov. 1919. when was elevated to the office Alderman.
Taking a keen interest in the market, he was chairman the Market Committee of the Corporation, and for the success of this undertaking was most ardent worker. He was likewise concerned with other local undertakings, being a Director the Chelmsford Land Co., the Chelmsford Empire Co., the Chelmsford Mutual Fund Association, the West Essex Permanent Building Society, and the 3rd West Essex Building Society, his sound judgment upon financial matters being thought a good deal of and acted in many directions. Had he so chosen he might have been Mayor of Chelmsford this year, but he had not been really well for some time, and he could not see his way to accept the office for that reason. He was, in fact, contemplating retirement from the Council on account of his health.
Mr. Driver was twice married. His first wife died 37 years ago, and, as stated above, his second wife (who was daughter Mr. Robert Sorrell, of Great Baddow) died in March, 1915.
Rarely has such, large concourse of sympathisers assembled at the Holy Trinity Churchyard, Springfield, as attended Wednesday, to pay their last, respects to the late Mr. Driver.
All sections of the community were represented, and testified to the many directions which the deceased guided his interests and sympathy. The civic body attended in state to mark their tribute the memory of a honoured colleague, the presence many employees demonstrated popularity in private life.
The carriages conveying the mourners were preceded the members of the Fire Brigade in helmets and uniform, under Supt. A. E. Murkin, the late Alderman having been a most practical chairman of the Fire Brigade and Market Committee of the Town Council. The firemen on arrival at the church formed guard to the main door. Employees were lined up outside the gates. The cortege was met by the Rector Springfield, the Rev. F. S. Paynter, R.D., and the surpliced choir, the Mayor (Ald. J. O. Thompson, O.B.E., J.P.) and other members of the Corporation following in state. The coffin, of plain oak, was covered with three beautiful wreaths from the family, while numerous other floral tributes filled carriage. Only a portion the general body of sympathisers could find room in the church, where impressive service was conducted by the Rector
Tom’s brother Robert Victor Driver died on 11th December 1955, aged 68.
Tom’s widow died without having remarried on 4th January 1962 in Chelmsford, aged 78
Acknowledgements to Ian Miller
Tom was born in Chelmsford on 4th March 1882, the second son of the printer Albert Driver and Minnie Alice Driver (nee Gower).
He was baptised at St. John’s Church, Moulsham on 1st July 1882. At the time his father was a compositor of Anchor Street, Chelmsford.
His father had been born in 1852 in Halstead, his mother around 1857 in Chelmsford. The couple had married on 17th June 1879 at St. Mary’s Church, Chelmsford, when Tom’s father was aged 23, a compositor of Chelmsford, and the son of Thomas Driver, coachman. His mother was aged 22, also of Chelmsford, and the daughter of the publican George Gower.
In 1881 Tom’s parents had been resident at 11 Anchor Street, Chelmsford. At the time Tom’s father was a compositor printer for the Essex County Chronicle.
Tom’s elder brother was George Albert Driver (born in 1880 in Chelmsford). Tom’s mother died on 27th December 1882, aged 25, after a few days’ illness, at Crusoe Terrace, Chelmsford.
Three years later Tom’s father took over the wholesale and retail newsagent and stationer’s business of Mr. G. Saltmarsh of 2 Tindal Street, Chelmsford. The business flourished under his stewardship.
Tom’s father subsequently married Alice Harriet Sorrell in 1885 and in 1891 the couple were living at 2 Tindal Street, Chelmsford. The marriage produced Robert Victor Driver (born on 28th January 1887), John Edward Driver (born on 12th December 1888) and Kate Driver (born in 1892). All the children were Chelmsford-born.
In 1889 Tom’s father, in partnership with George Ling, took over the
business of rag, bone, iron and metal merchants Messrs. Jacob Brothers in Union Yard, off Tindal Street, Chelmsford.
At the time of the 1891 census Tom was aged nine and living with his parents, three siblings, two relatives and a servant at 2 Tindal Street in Chelmsford, next door to Leech’s gun shop on one side and Crown Passage on the other. Tom’s father was described as a maund stone dealer.
In 1892 Tom’s father left his premises at 2 Tindal Street (which were added to the Essex County Chronicle’s existing neighbouring premises) to a shop on the other side of the street, 25 Tindal Street.
Tom was educated at King Edward VI’s Grammar School, Chelmsford. between 22nd January 1895 and December 1896. His admission record shows Tom’s father as a newsagent of Tindal Street. Tom’s brother John was also educated at the Grammar School between January 1903 and March 1904; as were their siblings George - September 1894 to July 1895 - and Robert.
In February 1897 Tom almost drowned when he fell through ice on the River Can near New London Road, an event that was reported in the local newspapers.
On 2nd February 1900, when almost 18 years old, Tom began his military career by enrolling as a Private into the ‘part-time’ 2nd Volunteer Battalion of the Essex Regiment.
When the 1901 census took place 19 year-old Tom was at 25 Tindal Street living with his parents, three brothers, sister, cousin and two servants. Tom was a printer, His father was by then a printer, stationer, marine store dealer and farmer - evidence of his entrepreneurial skills. Tom’s brother George was a stationer.
On 10th January 1902 Tom attested at Chelmsford to join the Essex Imperial Yeomanry where he served as Trooper 230, in B Squadron. He formally left the 2nd Volunteer Battalion of the Essex
Regiment on 22nd January 1902.
He re-enlisted at Chelmsford as Trooper 172 in the Essex Yeomanry (which replaced the Essex Imperial Yeomanry, forming part of the newly formed Territorial Army) on 16th April 1908. At the time he was five feet five inches tall with a 35 inch chest. His initial period of engagement was for three years but he was to re-engage several times to maintain continuous service right up to the outbreak of war on 4th August 1914,
He was appointed Lance Corporal on 16th May 1906, promoted to Corporal on 20th January 1908, to Lance Sergeant on 22nd May 1908, to Sergeant on 23rd March 1909, to Squadron Quarter Master Sergeant (S.Q.M.S.) on 1st February 1910 and to Squadron Sergeant Major (S.S.M.) on 27th April 1912 when he was the most senior non-commissioned officer in B Squadron. As S.Q.M.S. he had received the Territorial Force Efficiency Medal in July 1910.
The 1911 census recorded 29 year-old Tom living with his parents, four siblings, a cousin and two servants at 25 Tindal Street. Tom was a printer (compositor), and ultimately he managed his father’s Tindal Street printer’s business. His father was a printer and stationer; brother George was a stationer and newsagent; brother Robert was a marine store dealer; while brother John was a self-employed corn merchant. By then Tom’s father was already in the process of buying a large number of houses in Chelmsford to add to his other business interests.
On 24th October 1912 Tom married Ethel Maud Quilter at St. Peter’s Church, Eaton Square, London. She had been born in Pleshey in 1880 and worked in London as a draper’s assistant.Tom and Ethel subsequently set up home at 13 Queen’s Road, Chelmsford (today’s number 26, pictured).
The Essex Yeomanry was mobilised at the start of the War in August 1914, and after further training in Suffolk joined the Royal Horse Guards and 10th Royal Hussars in the 8th Cavalry Brigade in the 3rd Cavalry Division in France. Tom landed there on 29th November 1914, having agreed to serve overseas on 7th September 1914 at Long Melford in Suffolk. He had signed his Will on 10th October 1914
The Essex County Chronicle of 8th January 1915 contained the following report, based on an interview with Tom, which described his initial months in France:
“The Essex Yeomanry – How they are faring at the Front – We had the pleasure of an interview on Monday with Squadron-Sergt.-Major Thomas Driver, the second son of Cr. Driver, of the Acacias, Chelmsford. Sergt.-Major Driver has returned from France for a few days’ leave. He says that the Essex Yeomanry are in fine form, although they have not yet been engaged with the Germans. They left Southampton on Sunday, Nov. 29, and arrived at [censored] the following day after a very rough passage. The harbour, being very full, the Yeomanry were not able to land until December 1, and they remained for three nights under canvas. They then entrained, the journey occupying about 25 hours. A score of men or eight horses would occupy each railway truck. They were billeted in farms for over a week, during which time trench-digging and other kinds of military training were practised. They then moved again, this time close to the Belgian border, Remaining in this district for a couple of days, they joined the other regiments belonging to…[illegible]....time, they came within sight of the actual operations of war, for the French were shelling German entrenchments situated to the south-west of Ypres. The Brigade acted in support of the infantry lines, but was not called upon to take any actual part in the fighting. The Yeomanry remained here for about a couple of days, when they were ordered to [censored]. The heath and morale of the Yeomanry have been excellent, the only sicknesses being quite minor ailments. Everybody is in good spirits, and determined to maintain the hour of the old country. Sergt.-Major Driver says that the district in which they have been is flat and uninteresting. On the whole, the Yeomanry consider themselves fortunate in obtaining billets as they have done. Excitement has been caused from time to time by the appearance of German aeroplanes overhead and the consequent shelling by the English artillery. The artillery practice seems very time consuming the height and speed at which the aeroplanes travel. The Sergeant-Major has been surprised to find how soon the active spirit of man repairs the ravages of war, for he says that the cultivation of the fields still proceeds around the district where he has been, while in the rear it is taken for granted by every Frenchman that the Germans, once having been driven back will not be able to come forward again. The Yeomanry are kept well abreast of the news by the constant arrival of newspapers from their friends in England – in fact some of the so-called ‘news’ surprises them, and sets them wondering how it originates. The commissariat arrangements are very good, the troopers having excellent food supplied to them. If there is one thing they value more than another, it is the arrival of a letter from home, and the Sergeant-Major thinks that if only the joy of their receiving letters could be realised here at home there would be no dearth of communications sent from every relative and friend of the brave soldiers of England.”
The day’s Essex Weekly News carried a similar report:
“Essex Yeomanry home on holiday - Officers and N.C.O.’s back for a week - Over 20 officers, non-commissioned officers, and men of the Essex Yeomanry have been home this week for a holiday, the officers and N.C.O.’s having a week’s leave and the men 72 hours. Among the fortunate N.C.O.’s is S.S.M. Thomas Driver of Chelmsford, who arrived back looking very fit and well.
In conversation with a representative of the Essex Weekly News S.S.M. Driver gave a brief outline of Regimental happenings. The Yeomanry, he said numbering just under 300, and commanded by Col. E. Dawson, left England for France on November 29, and had a very rough crossing. The boat at times looked like turning turtle; and when the men were lying down trying to sleep three cases of biscuits, weighing 1 cwt. each, broke away and came hurtling down the hatchway on to the deck where they were. The horses jumped and kicked, and altogether it was quite a lively time. However, all ended well, but it was not until Dec. 1 that the regiment set foot in France.
Three nights were spent in camp and then followed a tedious rail journey in trucks. In one place the regiment remained eight days, training and practising trench digging - by the way, the only trenches the Yeomanry have seen so far are those they have dug themselves.
In Billets - After being billeted in small farms and experiencing great discomfort owing to heavy rains, the Essex Yeomanry were brigaded with the Horse Guards Blues and the 10th Hussars, and went forward in support. But the services of the brigade were not, after all, required and they were subsequently brought back to one of their former bases, were they have since been in training.
Everyone is in good spirits S.S.M. Driver says and on the whole [illegible] as if they were being served out at home.
Three or four times S.S.M. Driver ran across Chelmsford men, one of whom was a lad who formerly worked at his father’s place of business in Tindal-street.”
Tom’s step-mother died at their home, The Acacias, 194 Springfield Road (later renumbered as 77, and since demolished) on 6th March 1915 after a long illness, aged 65. She was the daughter of Robert Sorrell. Tom was unable to attend her funeral at Holy Trinity Church, Springfield, as he was serving as a Sergeant Major in the Essex Yeomanry ‘at the Front’.
On 9th March 1915 Tom completed his application form as a candidate for an Territorial Officer’s Commission. He was then five feet six inches tall, a printer and stationer by profession, then serving as a Squadron Sergeant Major with A Squadron, Essex Yeomanry. The following day he was certified as medically fit to discharge the duties of ‘an Officer of the Territorial Force.’ On 4th April 1915 Lt.-Colonel Deacon, Deputy Lieutenant for the County of Essex, certified Tom’s good moral character, having known him for a dozen years. The dame day Tom was confirmed as ‘being in every way eligible and suitable for a Commission in the Essex Yeomanry.’