Thomas Ient (13th March 1897 - 8th April 1990)
Thomas (Tom) Ient, or Uncle Tom to me, was born on the 13th March 1897, the son of Charles (formerly Karl Gottlob) Jent and his second wife Julia Ann Thurley Hemmings. The surname on Thomas’s birth certificate is Jent although later on it is recorded as Ient. At this time the family lived at 54 Warriner Gardens, Battersea.
I remember visiting Uncle Tom when he lived at Roehampton, near Putney with my dad, Albert Ient. Uncle Tom called my dad ‘son’ which at the time was strange to me but it is quite understandable as he was his elder brother. He and my father were very comfortable in each others company – it gave you a good feeling. My memory of him was as a kindly gentleman, very level headed and interested in you. He was a great correspondent in the Ient family – I only wish I had asked him more at the time about our history.
Much of the information in this biography has been told to me by Thomas’s twin son & daughter, - Pat & Tony. In this document I will call him Thomas rather than Uncle Tom or Tom. The links below are the index to this article:
He started school in Battersea Park Road in 1902. In 1909 his schooling continued at Surrey Lane School.
A Career in the Post Office
In 1911, at the age of 14, Thomas started work at Southampton Street Post Office, London (off the Strand, near Covent Garden), as a telegraph boy, rising in 1915 to assistant postman.
Joining the Army - WWI
In February 1916 Thomas left his job with the Post Office and joined the army, - The 8th Battalion - London Regiment, Post Office Rifles. His Regimental Number was 5347 - 372686. Only the latter part of this number appears on his demobilisation papers. He was posted to Sutton Veny Rifle Range, Warminster, Wiltshire for training. He may have also had training in the east of England.
The Post Office Rifles (see the section on WWI) served with distinction in the Great War. By the end of the war a total of 73,000 Post Office staff had volunteered.
Then in January 1917 he was sent to France for the first time. Ypres, I think. A few months later, in March, Thomas was shipped back to England with severe frostbite and/or ‘trench foot; he received medical attention in St. George's Hospital, Hyde Park Corner. There, according to Pat Risley (his daughter), he met his cousin Margie (Margaretha Flora Elena Jent) who was recovering from appendicitis. We think that Thomas was then sent to Seaford on the Sussex coast for a period of convalescence - possibly The Seaside Convalescent Hospital, Seaford, Sussex. This hospital no longer exists.
See also the WWI article on this web site: WWI
Third battle of Ypres at Passchendaele
By September 1917 Thomas was back at the Front and engaged in the third battle of Ypres at Passchendaele (July - November 1917). He also fought on the Somme and at St Quentin. He survived this dreadful ordeal only to be captured by the Germans in March 1918.
See also the articles about the battles of Ypres and Passchendaele on this website
Thomas Ient writes about Passchendaele
Thomas wrote a short essay about the devastation that war brings. See: Passchendaele 1917 - a soldier's view. This is a factual and guarded, but compelling account of what Passchendaele meant to him; leaving it to us to read between the lines.
Prisoners of War in Germany
Thomas was taken as a prisoner of war to Cassel (Kassel?), Zurickaw - Kemnitz Capen and put to work in an open cast coalmine. Thomas was well known for his fairness & trustworthiness thoughout his life. His fellow PoWs nominated him the person to cut the bread in their bunk house at the camp as they all trusted him to give each person a equal slice of the bread. Important when you don’t get much anyway!
When the armistice was signed in November 1918 Thomas started his long journey home ………… I am told by my cousin Tony (his son) that at the end of the war there was no liberation of the camps by allied troops. Simply, the prisoners noticed that the German soldiers had left and that they had no guards and were therefore free to walk out. In Uncle Thomas's case, he made his way home through Germany via Dresden, Frankfurt and Stellten, to Copenhagen and Edinburgh, arriving in Battersea on the 26th December 1918.
Thomas’s Demob paper:
Thomas was finally demobbed on 26th March 1919 as you can see from the above. I have his payslip for the time of his demob and it shows he was paid 'back-pay of £20-10s-8p for the period from the time of his capture in March 1918 until Feb 1919 - nearly a year!
Prisoners of War (PoW) Camp in Germany 1914-1918
Unfortunately records of British Prisoners of War during the Great War period are few and far between and those records which do exist are widely scattered, mainly un-indexed, incomplete, and often difficult to access.
He was awarded the Victory Medal:
Return to the Post Office
Thomas was demobbed and started work again in March 1919, this time at Battersea Post Office as a postman. His address at this time was the family home at 5 Warsill Street, Battersea. In 1920 he became a sorter at the Post Office.
Marriage & Family
On the 29th April 1924 Thomas, aged 27 years, married Elisabeth Emily Nunn (Bess) at the Parish Church in Wandsworth.
They went on to have three children – Peter on the 25th February 1925 and twins Thomas and Patricia on the 6th March 1928. At time of marriage Thomas lived 5 Warsill Street, London – his father's house.
Thomas & Bess moved to 79 Sandmore Road, Clapham in 1925. His occupation: Sorter (GPO). By 1928 they were living at, - 34 Rookstone Road, Tooting, London.
The children, Patricia, Peter & Thomas Antony (Tony):
WWII – Service in Auxiliary Fire Service
During the Second World War he was a Clerical Officer at the Post Office Savings Bank at Hammersmith and served in the Auxiliary Fire Service.
Retirement & a new career
Thomas retired from the Post Office in 1967, but he had not finished work. In 1969 he started a new career working for J E Hanger & Company Limited, manufacturers of artificial limbs. He finally retired in 1973.
On the 11th April 1990 Thomas was found dead on arrival at Queen Mary's University Hospital, Roehampton. The cause of death was cancer of the prostate, carcinomatosis and pulmonary embolus. His occupation was given as civil servant retired and his address 19 Grosse Way, Putney Park Drive, SW15.
This is a picture of Thomas in 1967