Nothing is known of Thomas' early life except that Regimental records published after the War indicate he had been born in Newton, Lancashire and was living in Heaton Moor when he enlisted. Most unusually, he joined up in Plymouth. Perhaps he was working in the area or was visiting family.
In mid July 1917, the men of 2nd Manchesters had a few days away from the fighting and were at Jean Bart Camp, somewhere a little way behind the front line near the Belgian coastal town of Nieuwpoort. At 7pm on the 11th, they received orders to start another tour of duty, relieving the 16th Highland Light Infantry in "C" Subsector. As they changed over in the trenches, the positions were heavily shelled and several men were killed before the relief was completed at 4am.
On the 13th, the enemy opened another heavy bombardment, including the use of tear gas shells, of the front line and communication trenches. It didn't stop until nearly midnight. Although Thomas' date of death is officially recorded as being the 14th, it is believed he was actually killed during this shelling. The Battalion's War Diary entry for the 14th strengthens this view as it makes no mention of any enemy activity.
On the 15th, "B" Company raided the enemy trenches. In retaliation, the Germans shelled the British 1st, 2nd and 3rd lines. Another local man, George Rowland, was killed and it was probably at this time that Albert Allman was mortally wounded. He died on 16 July.