'Tommy' Thomas

Born – Llanon, 16th June 1895           

Died – Freicourt, 18th March 1916

David Cuthbert or ‘Tommy’ Thomas was the only son of Reverend Evan Thomas, the vicar of Llanedy near Ammanford, and between 1906 and 1914 he enjoyed a successful sporting career at Christ College, Brecon representing the school at cricket, rugby and hockey. Tommy’s abilities as a steady and technically correct batsman drew the attention of the Glamorgan selectors  and after a match-winning innings for Christ College against Builth Wells CC, he was chosen to play for the Gentlemen of Glamorgan against their counterparts from Carmarthenshire at Llanelli on July 27th and 28th in 1914.

Batting at number ten, Tommy only scored 1 and 7 but his nimble and athletic fielding impressed the watching officials who believed that he was someone to keep an eye on. However, the country was already on a War footing and rather than looking forward to his next county match, Tommy joined the Public Schools Battalion in August 1914 and trained at RMC Sandhurst, before securing a commission as a Second Lieutenant in the 3rd Battalion, Royal Welch Fusiliers.

He subsequently joined the 1st Battalion and was attached to the 7th Infantry Division. Also in the Regiment were the famous writers Robert Graves and Siegfried Sassoon, with whom Tommy became close friends. Early in 1916 the Battalion were involved in manoeuvres which were part of the Battle of the Somme, with Tommy and the others enduring bitterly cold temperatures whilst in the trenches. . By early March, they were in the vicinity of Fricourt and Tommy’s mood must have been uplifted by the receipt of a food parcel from friends at Christ College.

On the evening of March 18th, Tommy accompanied a party from C Company out into No-Man’s Land near a building known as The Citadel to check the barbed wire defences, to repair anything that was damaged and to repair any gaps where the Germans had been trying to cut through. This was routine work at night for the Allies, but it was fraught with danger as the Germans were also busy in the dark. If a flare went up the men would remain motionless – instinct was to duck or fall to the ground, but the slightest movement would draw fire from German snipers or from a machine-gun placement. Sometimes they would fire random shots into the darkness hoping to hit someone. 

This was the case that fateful night for Tommy as around 10.30pm he was struck in the throat. He was able to make it back to the first-aid station unassisted, and, initially, all seemed well as a dressing was applied by the regimental doctor who was a throat specialist in civilian live.  “You’ll be all right, only don’t raise your head for a bit.” said the medic. But the wound began to haemorrhage with Tommy taking a letter to his family and fiancée from his pocket and gave it to an orderly, saying ”Post this!”. They were the last words he would utter as shortly afterwards he started to choke. The doctor returned and desperately tried a tracheotomy, but it was too late and shortly afterwards, he died.