Poppy Ernest William Noel THOMAS (1895–1917) Poppy

Ernest Thomas

Ernest William Noel Thomas was born at 142 Kingston Road, Oxford on Christmas Day 1895 and baptised at SS Philip & James Church on 8 March 1896.

His father William Arthur Thomas (born in Bicester and baptised there on 1 October 1864) was the son of a grocer, and at the time of the 1891 census he was working as a brewer's traveller and boarding in a lodging house at 11 Worcester Place in Oxford.

His mother Florence Lucy Trinder (born in Cirencester and baptised there in July 1869) was the daughter of the innkeeper at The Fleece in Cirencester.

His father was living in the parish of Ss Philip & James in Oxford and his mother in the parish of Christ Church in Hastings, Sussex when they were married in Hastings in the fourth quarter of 1894. They settled in Oxford where they had six children:

  • Ernest William Noel Thomas (born at 142 Kingston Road, Oxford on 25 December 1895 and baptised at SS Philip & James Church on 8 March 1896)
  • Mary Florence Thomas, known as Peggy (born at 142 Kingston Road, Oxford on 5 June 1898 and baptised at SS Philip & James Church on 17 July)
  • Kathleen Lucy Georgina Thomas (born at 142 Kingston Road, Oxford on 12 September 1900 and baptised at SS Philip & James Church on 11 November)
  • Sybil May Thomas (baptised at SS Philip & James Church on 5 July 1903; died at 142 Kingston Road aged twenty months at the beginning of 1905 with her funeral at St Ebbe's Church on 9 January 1905)
  • Janet Alice Thomas (baptised at SS Philip & James Church on 16 October 1904; died at 142 Kingston Road at the age of four months at the end of 1904 with her funeral at St Ebbe's Church on 28 December 1904)
  • Marjorie Annetta Thomas (born at 142 Kingston Road, Oxford on 8 December 1906 and baptised at St Margaret’s Church on 27 January 1907).

After their marriage his parents settled in 142 Kingston Road, Oxford (which until 1896 was in SS Philip & James parish).

At the time of the 1901 census Ernest (5) was living at 142 Kingston Road with his father William (36), his mother Florence (31), and his sisters Mary (2) and Kathleen (six months), plus the family's 15-year-old servant girl.

Ernest's next two sisters were born in 1903 and 1904 but died in infancy within ten days of each other. His youngest sister Marjorie was born at 142 Kingston Road at the end of 1906.

Ernest’s father William Thomas remained a brewer’s commercial traveller, and was described as a beer & whisky vendor at his daughter’s baptism in 1904.

Ernest attended Bedford House School at 122 Walton Street, and was then apprenticed to Boots the Chemist (then at 1 Queen Street, on the south-western corner of Carfax).

At the time of the 1911 census Ernest (15) described as an apprentice chemist, was living at 80 Kingston Road in St Margaret’s parish with his father William (47), who was still a brewer's commercial traveller, his mother Florence (41), and his three surviving sisters Mary (12), Kathleen (10), and Marjorie (4). They also had a boarder.

Poppy In the First World War Ernest William Noel Thomas volunteered in 1914 at the age of 18, enlisting with the 2/4 Regiment of the Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry (OBLI). In March 1915, after his nineteenth birthday, he joined the 1/4 Battalion of the OBLI as a Private (Service No. 3584). He arrived in France on 25 June 1915, and was awarded the Military Medal on 21 October 1916 for rescuing comrades from No Man's Land while under fire.

Ernest Thomas's war diaryErnest Thomas's war diary

In early 1917 Ernest returned to England to train as an officer, and was commissioned as Second Lieutenant on 31 August 1917. He rejoined the OBLI in October, this time as a Second Lieutenant with the 6th Battalion.

In April 1917 during the Second Battle of Arras, the British launched an attack to capture the village of Villiers-Plouich, which is 3.2 km from Gouzeaucourt. The photograph below shows Ernest Thomas and a friend in that village.

Edwin Thomas and friend

Less than two months later, on the first day of the Battle of Cambrai (20 November 1917), Ernest William Noel Thomas was killed in action in France at the age of 21 while leading his men across no-man's land.

Ernest Thomas

He has no known grave. He is remembered on:

A book All Will Be Well including the letters, diaries, and photographs of Ernest Thomas is available for sale, with proceeds donated to The Rifles Benevolent Trust's appeal “Care for Casualties”, supporting injured soldiers of The Rifles regiment (the present-day successor to the OBLI) and their families, and the Soldiers of Oxfordshire Museum

Right: Photograph in newspaper © Images
& Voices, Oxfordshire County Council

St Margaret's Church War Memorial

After the War

Ernest’s father
  • William Arthur Thomas remained at 80 Kingston Road until 1936.

See also

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Book about the men on this war memorial still on sale: 47 Men of North Oxford

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