For some unknown reason, when Thomas enlisted into the army in about September 1914, he didn't use his real surname. Throughout his military service, he was known as Thomas Ford.
He had been born in Stockport, the son of Thomas and Bridget. They had been born in Ireland and were still living there when their first son, John, was born in about 1886. Sometime over the following two years, they moved to the Stockport area to work at a local cotton mill. They lived first in Reddish where Stephen Timblin was born in about 1888. They then moved into Stockport proper for a few years, where Thomas was born and, in about 1893, his sister Mary was born. Their youngest child, Katie, was born in the Heaton Norris area around 1895. At the time of the 1901 Census, the family lived at 36 Brinksway Road, moving to 21 Peak Street, in the Newbridge Lane area of town by 1917.
Thomas went to France with the newly formed 9th Battalion on 4 September 1915, but their stay there would be only a few weeks. In October, Thomas and his mates moved to the Salonika theatre of war in Northern Greece, where they faced the Bulgarian Army. However, disease, not the Bulgarian Army, was the real killer in this area. For every one man killed by rifle or shellfire, three died from malaria, influenza and other diseases.
At some point, Thomas was invalided home and was a patient at Lancaster Military Hospital when he died. Regimental records published after the war record that he "died", as opposed to "died of wounds". This is a designation normally indicating a death from natural causes so it seems likely that he had fallen victim to disease.
He was buried at the Borough Cemetery, with full military honours and the "Last Post" was sounded over his grave.