David was born in 1896 in Mold. The 1901 census places him with his family living at Tan y Bryn, Ysceifiog. The family consisted of father, John Henry Thomas a 37 year old farm labourer who had been born in Bagillt, Mother Mary A a 31 year old native of Mold, John E 9yrs, Eunice M 8rs, Sarah A 6 yrs, David 4, James 3 and Herbert 1.
Ten years on, in the 1911 census, we read that the family had moved to Glanrafon Road, Mold. John Henry was now a widower. He was 47 and a road man working for the County Council. The children at home were John Edward 19, a cowman on a farm, Eunice was 18 and the housekeeper, Sarah Ann was 16 and a domestic servant, David was 15 and a screen boy at the colliery, James 13, Herbert 11 and Nelly 6 were all at school. The census form tells us that 10 children had been born to the marriage and seven were still alive. Three children had died.
David signed up to the army in March 1915. He was 19 years old and a collier. He named his father as his next of kin. He joined his battalion in Llandudno a few days later. He served ‘at home’ for the rest of that year and became part of the British Expeditionary Force in France in 1916.
In his army records which have survived, there is the following letter to the officer in charge of records at Shrewsbury. which we have transcribed.
9th July 1916
I should be glad if you would kindly let me have the latest news concerning 25583 Pte David Thomas, 17th R Welch Fusiliers. His brother who belongs to the 9th RWF has written home to say he believes he is missing and killed but the relations have not had any official intimation to that effect.
Margaret J Parry
The letter has a handwritten note on it which says Reply sent 22/7/16
There is another letter which was sent from the War Office six months later in January 1917. It is not clear who the letter was sent to but it says
14th January 1917
C 2 casualties 304579
The Officer in charge of Infantry Records Shrewsbury is informed that the report of the death of no 25583 Pte D Thomas 17 R Welsh Fus has been accepted as sufficient evidence for official purposes that the date that has been assumed is on about 9.7.16. Next of kin should be notified accordingly and the usual papers prepared if not already done.
And yet, despite this, the date on his Commonwealth War Grave Certificate is 9th September 1916. It looks as if someone has misread the date.
In August 1920 David’s father acknowledged receipt of his medal, the 1914-15 Star.
In November 1921 he acknowledged receipt of the Victory and the British War medals.
Further correspondence concerning the delivery of a commemorative plaque and scroll states that the father, John Henry Thomas was now living at 6 Brook Street, Mold.