Thomas was one of several children of Benjamin and Mary Ellen Barber and their third son. He’s believed to have lived all his life in the Romiley area until he enlisted in the army in September 1914.
He had been a member of the Boys Brigade at Hatherlow Sunday School where he had furthered his education. A keen musician, he was also a member of Bredbury & Romiley Brass Band. The family lived at Canal Bridge, Romiley (later moving to 172 Stockport Road). As with many Romiley men, Thomas worked at Chadkirk Printworks which was a member of the Calico Printers Association and he is mentioned in the Association’s entry in the Manchester City Battalions Book of Honour.
When Thomas enlisted, he joined the newly formed 8th Battalion of the Cheshire Regiment but was transferred to the artillery before he went overseas on active service. 86th Brigade was part of the Army’s 19th Division and it went overseas in July 1915. Thomas was, almost certainly, amongst the original members and he will have seen action at the Battle of Loos in September and throughout the following summer and autumn during the Battle of the Somme.
Towards the end of January 1917, the Brigade was detached from 19th Division and became an “Army Brigade”, being sent to various parts of the battlefield as the need arose. Few records remain of the day-to-day activities of these units so it cannot be known under what circumstances Thomas was killed.
However, the Third Battle of Ypres had started only the day before and it is certain that 86th Brigade will have been in action. It is probable that he was killed by the explosion of a German shell which had been targeted on the Battery position. The Cemetery where he is buried is situated about 5 kilometres south of Ypres (now Ieper) and the Battery will have been close by.