Mystery surrounds death of war hero’s big brother

Thiepval Memorial - where William Peat is remembered.

Thiepval Memorial - where William Peat is remembered.

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A 99-year mystery surrounds the fate of war hero William Peat’s older brother Thomas.

“Despite being discharged in disgrace from the army, he appears to have fallen in battle,” said historian Bill Hawkins.

“The name of Gunner Thomas William Peat certainly appears in Hartlepool’s Book of Remembrance to the Fallen, listing his death in 1916.

“But I have yet to find an official record of this death on the Commonwealth War Graves website – could he have been named by mistake?”

Thomas, a labourer by trade, appears to have been in and out of trouble before signing up as a gunner with the Royal Garrison Artillery on August 25, 1914.

Indeed, on June 2 that year he appeared before Hartlepool Police Court charged with theft of coal, receiving a sentence of one month’s hard labour.

“Things didn’t get much better for him once he joined the army, as he was locked up for 28 days in September after committing a crime,” said Bill.

“Not long after his release he committed another, unnamed, crime for which he was sentenced to 84 days of detention and discharge with ignominy.”

Army bosses chose, however, to let Thomas stay – only to discharge him for disconduct in March 1915, after he committed another crime.

In total he spent just 210 days in the army, mostly in prison, before returning home to 19 Uppingham Street, West Hartlepool.

“I’d love to know what happened to him,” said Bill. Find out more about William’s bravery at www.medalsofengland.com