Thomas was born on the 13th June 1902 in Ashton-Under-Lyne, Lancashire. He was baptised at Hurst St John's Church on the 6th August. His father was called Richard and his mother was Violet Ann. He had 2 older siblings; William and Hilda, and 5 younger; Harold, Ethel, Elsie, Ernest and Violet Ann. The family had lost Elsie and 2 other children by 1911. Violet was born in June 1913 and died that October. The family were members of the Church of England.
Richard worked as a moulder at an iron foundry. The family lived in a number of different places in and around Ashton during the 1900s. In 1901 they were at 19 Headfield Street and when Thomas was born they lived in Hooley Hill in Audenshaw. All their children except Harold were baptised at Hurst St John's Church.
By February 1908 the family had moved to 148 Fleet Street, and this would be their home for at least the next 15 years. In 1923 Thomas still lived here, and worked as a horsekeeper. As well as this, on the 9th April he joined the Territorial Army (TA).
Thomas enlisted in the 9th Battalion of the Manchester Regiment. This was based in Ashton. As a Territorial he kept his civilian home and job and trained as a soldier during evenings and weekends. The battalion would also go on an annual training camp, lasting around 2 weeks.
When Thomas enlisted he was 5 feet 6 1/2 inches tall and weighed 147 pounds. He had a 'pale' complexion, grey eyes and light brown hair. He was given the service number 3518901.
Thomas had enlisted before the 1923 annual camp, so he was able to attend it. He was granted leave to miss the 1924 and 1925 camps.
On the 14th June 1924 Thomas married May Pretoria Powell Caldwell at Dukinfield Parish Church, near Ashton. We believe their first home was at 67 Robinson Street in nearby Stalybridge. They later moved to number 104, and then to 1 Cartwright Buildings in the town, although we don't know when.
Thomas attended the 1926 training, and on the 9th April 1927 re-enlisted for 4 more years. He then missed that year's training. Perhaps this had something to do with his daughter Elsie Ann, who was born on the 6th July 1927. She would be the couple's only child.
After this Thomas attended every annual camp until 1939. He extended his service again in 1931, 1932 and 1936. The camps were held in a variety of locations, including Kinmel Park near Rhyl in North Wales in 1930, Cark in the Lake District in 1931, Kinmel again in 1933 and Holyhead in Anglesey in 1935.
From 1936 onwards the 9th Battalion began converting from an infantry unit into a mechanised machine gun battalion. This used the Vickers Machine Gun to provide extra firepower to infantry battalions. This also meant that soldiers needed to be trained in driving and maintaining the many more vehicles assigned to the battalion.
In November 1938 Thomas was awarded the Efficiency Medal. This recognised 12 years of service in the TA. Through 1938 and 1939 tensions with Germany rose and war became more and more likely. The TA was doubled in size in 1938. The 9th Battalion formed a second 9th Battalion (2/9th), and Thomas was posted to this new unit.
The TA was mobilised on the 30th August 1939. Thomas reported to the 9th Battalion Headquarters in Ashton to receive his equipment and wait for orders. The next day Germany invaded Poland, and on the 3rd September Britain declared war.
The 2/9th Battalion was sent to Tenby in South Wales in early 1940, where they trained and acted as a guard force against a possible invasion.
Thomas was taken ill on the 13th April 1940 and sent to Hill House Isolation Hospital in Swansea. We don't know what was wrong with him, but it must have been serious. He was not able to leave hospital and return home until the 21st May.
After a week Thomas reported back to the 2/9th Battalion on the 30th. After just 3 days he was sent back to hospital. This time he was treated at Pembroke Dock Military Hospital. By the end of July it was clear that he would never be able to return to duty, so on the 1st August 1940 Thomas was discharged as 'permanently unfit for any form of military service'.
Thomas' conduct had been 'Very Good'. He returned home to 1 Cartwright Buildings. We don't know much about the rest of his life. In later life he worked as a labourer at a water works. He and May lived at 71 Brushes Road in Stalybridge by the early 1960s.
Thomas died of cancer in Parkside Hospital in Macclesfield on the 19th February 1962. He was 59 years old. May lived until January 1986, when she died aged 85. Elsie died in January 1999 aged 71. We don't believe she ever married.
Thomas' medal was donated to the Museum of the Manchester Regiment in February 1987.