Thomas was a Yorkshireman - born in the Manningham district of Bradford on Boxing Day 1885. When the Census was taken in the spring of 1901, the family had moved to live at 19 Ash Grove, Heaton Chapel. They had lived in the Stockport area for some time as Thomas is known to have been educated at Portwood School. His father, 47 year old John Parkinson, was a manager at a silk mill and was a widower. Thomas had older siblings - Ellen, then aged 22 and George, 18. He was working in the printing industry as a proof reader and, by the time of the War, would have promoted to manage the finishing department. In his spare time, he had previously served with the local 6th (Territorial) Battalion of the Cheshire Regiment
In 1914, the family was living at 1 Woodstock Avenue, Reddish and Thomas is thought to have been working in Salford. With the War almost a month old, on 3 September 1914, he went to the recruiting office there, on Cross Lane, and joined the 2/7th Battalion, Lancashire Fusiliers (service number 2370 and, later, 280509). His service papers still exist at the National Archives and these show him to have been a short man, standing at just over 5' 4" and weighing 128 pounds. He had a fresh complexion, hazel eyes and dark hair. Thomas recorded his religious denomination as Wesleyan.
He was promoted to lance corporal on 12 January 1915 and to sergeant on 12 April but it would not be until the autumn of 1917 that he went overseas on active service having been posted to the 13th Battalion of the Fusiliers. His first spell overseas was brief and he returned to the UK having been selected to train for a commission. The final report of his officer cadet school is in his service file. It's dated 25 March 1918 and it makes for disappointing reading.
In the review section of his power of command and leadership is recorded "Could be better with a little more life and zeal displayed". The general remarks - "Extremely disappointing at first through lack of concentration. Has worked much harder since and made considerable progress." The Commandment of the School noted "I am not altogether satisfied but think this cadet ought to improve with more hard work". By the spring of 1918, the rise in the number of British casualties perhaps meant that men were commissioned who previously might not have been and, on 30 April, Thomas became 2nd Lieutenant Parkinson and was assigned to the 6th Battalion, Royal Welsh Fusiliers. He again remained in the UK for several months and was only posted abroad in September, joining the 2nd Battalion on 4 September. He took up a position in either "B" or "D" Company and, eight days later, would be dead.
The Fusiliers had suffered very heavily in late August and early September. On the day that Thomas joined, their strength was just 90 men - about 10% of the normal complement. However, on the 7th, further drafts of replacements arrived and it was possible to reorganise the Battalion into something approaching normality. They had just three days to do this before they went back into the front line, south of the village of Gouzeaucourt. Early the next morning, the Germans heavily shelled their positions and Thomas was one of 20 to become a casualty.
When Thomas' affairs were sorted out, Mr Parkinson had returned to live in Bradford (and had possibly died). George was living at 41 Belle Vue Street, Batley whilst Ellen had moved to live in Colwyn Bay at Green Mount, King's Road.