The Elusive Thomas Duckmanton

When your surname is Duckmanton (ten letters, count them) and your first name is Terence (another seven) the last thing you need in your life is another name in the middle. Imagine discovering that in addition to your Sunday name, you have also inherited a middle name which no-one ever uses. To be fair to my parents my Sunday name didn't get used much either. Terence was reserved for formal occasions like form filling or prior warning of severe punishment for something of which I must surely have been innocent.

It's beginning to look like anyone who knew me either used my surname or some derivative thereof. Although this is certainly true of the inmates of Queen Elizabeth's Grammar School, it was not the only system in use. In their wisdom, my parents had given me the name Terence because they wanted to call me Terry. Apparently they didn't think you could register a child with just the short form of a name, so I was given the full Sunday version which was hardly ever used. How times have changed?

So where did the middle name come from? As I hinted in a previous paragraph I inherited the name Thomas. I don't remember when I found out, but I do recall being told at some point that I shared a birthday with a relative by the name of Thomas Duckmanton. Mum wasn't absolutely certain who this relative was, but she thought he would have been a great or possibly a great, great grandfather. I left it at that.

More recently I decided to make use of my brother's brilliant family tree website to find out which of my ancestors was responsible for the unwanted and unused middle name. The nearest Thomas I could find was a great uncle, his actual birth date remains unknown and shrouded in mystery, but we do know that he died fighting for his country in the horror which was the Battle of the Somme. What follows is his story.

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