2nd Lieutenant, 16th Battalion Middlesex Regiment, 3rd and 9th Battalions York & Lancaster Regiment.
Killed in action 16th September 1916, age 30.
Remembered on the Thiepval Memorial.
Former student of medicine.
Thomas was born in March 1886 in Oldham, the eldest son of Dr Thomas Fawsitt and his wife Eliza. A border at both Aysgarth School in Yorkshire and Shrewsbury School, Thomas also attended Closelet School in Lausanne, Switzerland, before entering Christ’s College in Cambridge in October 1905. At Christ’s College Thomas distinguished himself as a coxswain, breaking into the College rowing squad in his first year. He went on to act as cox for three years, leading the College’s eight-man team to victory in the Thames Cup at Henley in 1906 and 1907. The fact that he had poor eyesight and had to wear glasses was thought to have prevented him from representing the university.
In 1908 Thomas left Cambridge, later being accepted at Victoria University of Manchester to study Medicine. At the start of his third year in October 1910, he moved into Hulme Hall. However, his work ethic did not match that expected of him and he left Manchester in March 1911. Luton was the next stop as he found work at the Vauxhall Motor Works as a Motor Engineer. Thomas also went into business, becoming a partner in Geo. Ward, Fawsitt and Co. Limited although this venture did not succeed and the company was liquidated in September 1912.
Struggling to find direction in his life, Thomas moved to Cambridge House in Camberwell, a charity founded by Cambridge University students to tackle poverty in London. Although untrained in the work, and despite a very different upbringing, Thomas found he had a natural ability to connect with those he met. Having found a sense of purpose in his involvement with Cambridge House, he stayed there until the outbreak of War in August 1914.
Caught in the excitement that gripped much of the country, Thomas was quick to enlist with the 16th Middlesex (Public School) Battalion in early September 1914. He was promoted to Corporal in January 1915 shortly after beginning the process of applying for a commission. Perhaps feeling that being an NCO was affecting his chances of attending officer training, Thomas reverted back to the rank of Private at his own request two months later. Thomas was finally accepted for officer training, being commissioned as Second Lieutenant with the 3rd Battalion York and Lancaster Regiment in June 1915. Initially based in Sunderland, the Battalion moved to Durham in August, forming part of the Tyne Garrison. In February 1916 Thomas was involved in an accident whilst cleaning out his billets, fracturing his elbow, requiring two months’ sick leave before being considered fit enough to resume training.
With the British Army suffering heavy casualties at the start of the Somme offensive in July 1916, Thomas was sent to France, being attached to the 9th Battalion at the end of July. His first experiences of being in the front line came two weeks later, with the majority of time being taken repairing trenches and re-wiring weakened sections of their defences. On the evening of 15th September, the Battalion were moved up to Push Alley, a new front line trench after a successful attack on the village of Martinpuich. The next day they established two strong advance posts. Subject to counter attacks and continued shelling through the day, Thomas was killed, one of 37 casualties suffered by the Battalion that day.
Cambridge House is still in operation today. The charity continues to focus on working with vulnerable families and communities, using their expertise and knowledge to tackle the root causes of poverty.