b. 08/12/1882 Tiverton, Devon. d. 20/07/1945 Tiverton, Devon.
Thomas Henry Sage (1882-1945) was born at Ham Lane, Tiverton, Devon on 8th December 1882. His father, Thomas William Sage, a stonemason, was born in New York, USA. At the time of Thomas junior’s birth he was working for Tiverton Town Council and living in Barrington Street. He married Jessie Laura Osmond, a silk winder, in 1882. Thomas had two sisters, Jessie (born in 1884, died 1885) and Mabel (born 1886).
Thomas was educated at Chilcot’s School, Tiverton and was a member of the Church Lads’ Brigade. He was employed as a blacksmith by Mr Pethwick in Newport Street, Tiverton and later worked for Messrs Starkey, Knight and Ford’s Brewery. Thomas married Evelyn Maud Langworthy, a general servant, in 1907 in Tiverton. They went on to have five children – Beatrice Annie (born 1907), Clifford Cecil (born 1910), Stanley (born 1914), Irene (born 1916) and Charles (born 1921).
Thomas enlisted on 10th December 1914 and went to France after 31st December 1915. Little is known about his war service prior to his actions which led to the award of the Victoria Cross. On 4th October 1917 at Tower Hamlets Spur, east of Ypres, Belgium, Private Sage was in a shell-hole with eight other men, one of whom was shot while throwing a bomb which fell back into the shell-hole. Private Sage, with great presence of mind, immediately threw himself on it, and so saved the lives of several of his comrades, although he himself was severely wounded.
Thomas was evacuated following his VC action and was treated at Horton (County of London) War Hospital, Epsom, Surrey. His missing eyelid was restored by surgeons and some shrapnel was removed from his thigh, but several pieces remained for the rest of his life. He had recovered sufficiently by 2nd February 1918 to travel to London for the presentation of an illuminated address by the London Tivertonians. He was fitted with an artificial eye and on 8th March returned to Tiverton to a tumultuous welcome and received £100 in War Bonds and a case of Treasury notes. He was discharged on 24th May 1918 no longer fit for service. He received his VC from King George V at Buckingham Palace on 16th November 1918.
Thomas returned to work at the brewery. On 26th June 1920 he attended the VC Garden Party, and in 1929 attended the VC Dinner at the House of Lords. He was part of a notable trio of West Country VCs with George Onions and Theodore Veale. His wife died in 1932 and he had to give up work at the brewery due to poor health in 1933. He later became a caretaker of the Tiverton TA Drill Hall.
Thomas died at 44 Council Gardens, Tiverton on 20th July 1945 and was buried in Tiverton Cemetery. A headstone was placed over his grave on 6th December 1986 by the Somerset Light Infantry Association. In addition to his VC, he was also awarded the British War Medal 1914-20, Victory Medal 1914-19 and George VI Coronation Medal 1937. The VC is held privately, though a replica group is held at the Somerset Military Museum, Taunton Castle, Somerset.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: NOT PUBLICLY HELD.
BURIAL PLACE: TIVERTON CEMETERY, TIVERTON, DEVON.
SECTION XB, GRAVE XI/36
Kevin Brazier – Images of the Sage VC grave and the accompanying cemetery map of Tiverton Cemetery.
Steve Lee www.memorialstovalour.co.uk – Image of the Sage VC Stone in Tiverton.