b. 25/01/1895 Fulham, Middlesex. d. 01/03/1970 Isleworth, Middlesex.
DATE OF AM ACTION: 30/04/1918 Poperinghe, Belgium.
Thomas was born on 25th January 1895, at Fulham, London, one of five children. He went to school at the age of 3, attending Halford Road School. His father worked as a coal porter, working door to door, though sadly, he died when Thomas was 8. The family then moved to Brentford, where he attended St Lawrence’s School, passing the “labour exam” meaning he could drop out. After a few odd jobs he returned to his old school to teach the younger boys, whilst working as a delivery boy for an off-licence and a local doctor in the evenings.
At the age of 15, Thomas got work on the London Underground as a porter at Gloucester Road Station. Later, he became a liftman at Brompton Road. In 1915, he enlisted as a Private in the Cyclist Regiment and was soon after transferred to the Middlesex Regiment and took on training at Salisbury Plain. He was then sent to France and saw action at Ypres. Some time later, he was transferred to the Royal Engineers, stationed in Poperinghe. He was the only one of the five men involved in the incident which led to the Albert Medal to receive minor wounds. He was granted leave in 1918 to attend his investiture at Buckingham Palace. He was demobbed in 1919, returning to work on the Underground.
In 1920 he married Rosa Helen Bennett at St Faith’s, Brentford and they had a daughter 5 years later. He eventually became Station Foreman at Camden Town and on the outbreak of WWII was a Yardmaster at the Elephant and Castle. He was then sworn in as a railway policeman. After the war he became a Divisional Inspector at Baker Street, from where he retired in 1960, aged 65. He became a founder member of the Albert Medal Association in 1966, and worked as a messenger in retirement for a firm of shipping agents. He died in 1970, aged 75, just prior to the opportunity to exchange for a GC became available.
In Flanders, on the 30th April, 1918, a train of ammunition had been placed at an ammunition refilling point, and after the engine had been detached, and was being run off the train, the second truck suddenly burst into flames. Furlonger immediately ordered Bigland, the driver, to move the engine back on to the train for the purpose of pulling away the two trucks nearest the engine. Bigland did so without hesitation, and the engine was coupled up by Furlonger, assisted by Farren, while the burning truck was uncoupled from the remainder of the train by Woodman. The two trucks were then drawn away clear of .the ammunition dump, it being the intention to uncouple the burning wagon from the engine and the first wagon, and so isolate it, with the object of localising the fire as far as possible. The uncoupling was about to be done when the ammunition exploded, completely wrecking the engine and both trucks, killing Furlonger, Farren and Johnston (a member of the train crew), and seriously wounding Bigland. Had it not been for the prompt and courageous action of these men, whereby three of them lost their lives and one was seriously injured, there is not the slightest doubt that the whole dump would have been destroyed and many lives lost.
BURIAL LOCATION: UNKNOWN.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: FAMILY.
Allan Stanistreet – Image of Thomas Woodman AM.