Thomas wrote home from the trenches in July 1915 to assure his mother that despite being under constant shell fire, he and his mates were “sticking it like good ones in the trenches.“As the long hours roll by we stick to our guns for each lad knows his duty.”All around towns and villages were being devastated and Thomas noted “it makes one’s heart sore to see the havoc wrought in Flanders and to see children made homeless as a result of the work of the Hun.”And he concluded: “If the Germans once got to England they would bring the slacker to his senses and teach him that he ought to do his share. Let those at home do their ‘whack’ and those at the front will do their best not only to defend
old England, but also to drive the Germans across the Rhine.Thomas had enlisted soon after war was declared when he was 30 years old but a story that has been passed down the years tells how he once joined up by saying he was older than he was, probably for the Boer War.Serving his country was obviously important to him and probably the whole family because the following month his mother passed on another letter from him to the newspaper in which he said: “it is time that the young fellows at home came to their senses and realised their responsibilities.
“It would do them good to be under shell fire for a few weeks instead of walking about in the highways and byways in England. It is time they showed they are willing to do their bit.”The next we hear of Thomas is in gallery of photos ‘Heroes who have done their duty’ during the battle of the Somme in which it is revealed that he was wounded, though no details were given.Thanks to research done by his granddaughter, Margaret Cannon, we
know that Thomas was discharged from the army in 1917 as a result of being wounded, though it is not clear if this was the wound he received at the Somme or perhaps a second injury picked up after returning to the line.He returned to Idle and worked again as a mason’s labourer and Margaret said: ‘My mother told me that for several years after the war, shrapnel from the wound would work its way through his skin.’Thomas’s first wife Sabina Halliday died in 1919 and in 1920 he married again, to Dora Corley.Thomas died in Croydon on 15 July 1957 and was brought back to Bradford to be buried