Language: Welsh & English
Rank & Number: Private, 436913
Regiment: 49th Alberta Regiment, Canadian Expeditionary Force C coy
Cemetery / Memorial: Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres (panel 24-28-30)
Other memorials: Glan Conwy
6th May 1916, aged 32
Thomas went missing between 5th and 6th May 1916. Shortly after Thomas was lost, a German newspaper wrote of the Canadian troops, “Many of them made obstinate resistance, preferring to be killed rather than surrender. One general and several officers who refused to give in were killed. The General drew his sword, and when the sergeant demanded his surrender, he cut the sergeant through the face, whereupon the infantryman bayoneted him. Many such groups who resisted desperately and refused all mercy had to be cleared out with bombs”.
Excerpts taken from the following book:
Dr Bridget Osborne, We Will Remember Them… The Men of Eglwysbach and Llansanffraid who served in the Great War, 2016
Life / Background:
Thomas was born in Glan Conwy in 1884, the son of Hugh Roberts of Llewelyn Terrace. He left Wales to work as a miner in Edmonton, Alberta and enlisted in December 1915 when he was 30 years old. Just under 5ft 5 inches tall, he had a dark complexion, black hair and brown eyes and his religion was “Baptist or Congregationalist”.
Thomas joined the 49th Alberta regiment in Edmonton and was one of about 24,000 men from Alberta who went to war voluntarily in 1916. However, training was inadequate and the weapons the Canadian soldiers were issued with, especially the Ross rifle, were unsuitable for trench warfare. Although letters home were censored, numbers signing up fell off and conscription was introduced in August 1917.