India General Service Medal (1854) with clasp 'Samana 1891'
Thomas was born between late 1867 and early 1868 in Ashton-under-Lyne, Lancashire. His father was named John. We don't know anything about the rest of his family. By the time he was 17 Thomas was working as a piecer at Whittaker's Mill on the outskirts of the town and living at 145 Charles Street, off Margaret Street. He was a Roman Catholic.
Thomas must have wanted to do more with his life, because on the 15th February 1886 he enlisted into the 3rd Battalion of the Manchester Regiment. This was a unit of the Militia, and we believe Thomas joined because he was under 18, too young for the Regular Army. He gave his age as 17 years and 6 months. His Militia service number was 1778.
Thomas was 5 feet 4 1/4 inches tall, with brown eyes and hair. He was described as having a 'sallow' complexion.
After a little over a month in the Militia Thomas enlisted in the Regular Army on the 31st March. He gave his age as 18 years exactly. We don't know whether or not this is true. Thomas' weight was 115 pounds and his physical development was assessed as 'good.' He was assigned to the 1st Battalion of the Manchester Regiment and given the service number 1386.
During his training in Ashton-under-Lyne Thomas spent almost all of June in hospital suffering from Gonorrhoea. He was well enough to leave on the 9th July and join the 1st Battalion at Shorncliffe in Kent, although by October they had moved to Aldershot. Thomas obtained the 3rd Class Army Certificate of Education on the 9th September.
Thomas spent the next two years in Aldershot. We don't know what he did there, although he spent all of August and September as well as parts of October and November 1887 and January 1888 in hospital being treated for Gonnorrhea and Syphilis.
On the 8th September 1888 Thomas was sent to join the 2nd Battalion of the Manchester Regiment, which was stationed at Agra in Uttar Pradesh, northern India. His Gonnorrhea soon returned and he spent all of September and the first half of November 1889 in hospital receiving treatment for it. Thomas and the 2nd Battalion moved to Sialkot in what is now Pakistan in July 1890.
After 9 months in Sialkot Thomas went to war. The 2nd Battalion of the Manchester Regiment was one of the units ordered to put down a rebellion in the Miranzai Valley on the North West Frontier with Afghanistan. Thomas was one of the 300 Manchester Regiment soldiers who took part in this campaign, which was called the Miranzai Expedition. It lasted from the 3rd to the 25th May 1891. Samana is the name of the mountain range that rises out of the Miranzai Valley. The British fought hard to capture it.
Thomas stayed with the 2nd Battalion until he was transferred to the Army Reserve and returned to the UK on the 27th March 1894. He served in Amritsar and Meerut during this time. Thomas spent the next 4 years in the Army Reserve before he was finally discharged on the 30th March 1898. On three separate occasions Thomas had forfeited his 1 penny per day Good Conduct Pay for a year. These were between December 1889 and 1890, May 1891 and 1892 and August 1892 and 1893. This meant the pension he could claim as a civilian was reduced.
Thomas' father had died during his Army service, so his new next of kin was his aunt, Bridget Cassidy. She lived in Stalybridge, Cheshire. We don't know anything about the rest of Thomas' life. .