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Thomas, J.W., Sgt., MSM, 1914-1918 (1947)

Photo: Laffayate

Medal Index Card

Hartlepool Northern Daily Mail 26/04/1916

John [Jack] William Thomas was born, one of five children on the 30th September 1890 at 33 Blackett Street, Sacriston to a William Richard Thomas, (born Cornwall 1863) and his wife Emily Mary Thomas, (born Cornwall 1861).

Three of the children died, one of the deceased children was called James who was the eldest, he was born 1886 but died after 1891. The surviving children were a son Jack and a daughter. Lilian born 1893.

In 1901 the family were residing at Post Office Street, Thornley, the father was employed at the local Colliery.

Thomas started to play for Spennymoor Football Club.

The Newcastle Daily Chronicle 26/04/1916 reports:

Another Prisoner of War escapes from Germany.
Lance-Cpl. J.W. Thomas, D.L.I.
The second member of the Durham Light Infantry to escape from a German camp arrived home yesterday. This Lance-Corpl. J.W. Thomas, of Sacriston, near Durham.

He had been in captivity for over a year.

John [Jack] William Thomas, MSM, was an English professional football inside right who played in the Football League for Newcastle United.

Thomas worked as a miner at Sacriston Colliery. After the outbreak of the First World War in August 1914, he enlisted in the 1/8th Battalion Durham Light Infantry. In 1915, Thomas was taken prisoner near Boetleer’s [Bootlace Farm], Farm, during the Second Battle of Ypres and was sent to Germany, where he was incarcerated with French prisoners and learnt the language. He eventually escaped with four other French prisoners and by using a compass which had been hidden in a cake sent from home, he made it to the neutral Netherlands. Upon his return to Britain, Thomas was interrogated as a possible German spy, but was then sent back to France to work in counter-espionage, by posing as a French dock worker. He won the Meritorious Service Medal during the course of his service.

John William Thomas is remembered in Sacriston on S113.05

If you know more about this person, please send the details to janet@newmp.org.uk