Being contacted by the relative of a soldier I’ve written about is one of the most gratifying aspects of maintaining my blog. This is exactly what happened as a result of the story I posted last November about Staff Sergeant “Jack” from the 50th Battalion CEF. It wasn’t a relative of Jack who contacted me but rather the great-niece of Thomas Albert Narraway. In my article I surmised that “Jack” may have been Thomas but now that I’ve received two postcards from his family I know this was not the case.
Thomas Albert Narraway was born in Devonport, England on Dec. 28th 1881. Thomas was listed as 19 year-old clerk living in Battersea, London in the 1901 census but in 1905 he emigrated to Connecticut where he made his living as an accountant. Thomas never married and when war broke out the 34 year-old slipped over the border, shaved five years off his date of birth, and enlisted with the 50th Battalion in Calgary. The Glenbow Museum includes an excellent photo of Thomas in their collection although it is mislabeled as the 5’4″ Thomas is clearly not the soldier on the far left. Company Quarter-Master Sergeant Narraway, #434567, was on the S.S. Orduna when the 50th Battalion departed Halifax for England on October 27th, 1915.
The 50th Battalion was part of the 4th Canadian Division’s 10th Infantry Brigade and in April 1917 it found itself facing the most heavily defended German position on Vimy Ridge – The Pimple. This objective was the most difficult to achieve and it did not fall until April 12th, three days into the Battle of Vimy Ridge. Thomas Narraway, now Company Sergeant Major, was awarded a Military Medal for the courage and leadership he displayed during the attack on April 12th.
Tragically less than two months later Thomas was killed when the 50th Battalion was tasked with taking the Central Electric Generation Station near La Coulotte on June 3rd, 1917. Thomas’s body was never recovered and as such his name is one of the 11,285 inscribed on the Vimy Memorial.
If anyone has more information on Thomas Albert Narraway please contact me so that I can pass it on to his family.