Ernest Thomas

This page is devoted to a special project, a newly published book presenting the wartime experiences of Ernest WN Thomas, an Oxford boy and my partner Jonathan’s great-uncle, who was killed in 1917.


 

Paperback, 170 x 240 mm, 180 pages,
full colour, 163 photographs, 11 maps.
£15

All Will Be Well… In Time

The Letters, Diaries, and Photographs of Ernest Thomas, a Soldier in the Great War

Discovered more than 80 years after his death at the Battle of  Cambrai, this remarkable archive offers a detailed, personal insight into the experiences of a young volunteer in World War I.  With supplementary maps, commentaries, and images, All Will Be Well…In Time paints an engaging picture of a soldier’s daily life, set against the stalemate and slaughter of the Western Front.

Ernest William Noel Thomas was 19 years old when he enlisted in the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry in 1915, and only 21 when he was killed in action some two years later. A trainee pharmacist at Boots the Chemist, he was typical of so many educated young men of his generation: stoical, gallant, and polite, full of righteous certainty and dry humour.

A stretcher bearer with the 1/4th OBLI, Ernest was present throughout the Battle of the Somme, gaining a Military Medal at the Battle of Pozières for bravery under fire. In 1917 he returned to England to take up a commission as a Second Lieutenant, before returning to France to serve with the 6th OBLI. His first engagement as a junior officer was at the Battle of Cambrai, where he died leading his platoon in an attack on a German machine gun position on the very first morning.

During his time away, Ernest wrote regular, affectionate letters home to his parents and sisters, describing in detail his day-to-day  trials and pleasures, making much of the latter and light of the former.  Yet, in between his appreciation of the parcels from home and his optimistic views of the progress of the war, we get a real sense of what it must have been like to be there.


 

To order a copy of All Will Be Well, please email me through the Contact page of this website. All proceeds from the sale of this book will be donated to The Rifles Benevolent Trust’s appeal, ‘Care for Casualties’, supporting injured soldiers of The Rifles regiment (the present-day successor to the OBLI) and their families, and the Soldiers of Oxfordshire Museum.

Ernest’s journal, Autumn 1917