b. ? 1870 Burntwood, Staffordshire. d. 14/12/1911 Old Hednesford Pit, Cannock Chase.
DATE OF EM ACTION: 14/12/1911 Old Hednesford Pit, Cannock Chase.
Thomas was born in 1870 in Burntwood, Staffordshire, the third of three sons born to Henry and Ann Stokes. His father came from Birmingham and was a coal miner. Thomas followed in his father’s footsteps and after his mother’s death, he supported his father in his old age. Thomas married Sarah and they had no children. Thomas spent most of his working career at the Old Hednesford Pit, in Cannock Chase, and worked as a stallman. He was killed in the Old Hednesford Pit Disaster on 14th December 1911, aged 41, and was posthumously awarded the Edward Medal.
An underground fire broke out, on the 14th December, 1911, in the intake airway of the No. 9 Cannock Chase Colliery, which rendered necessary the withdrawal of all the workmen. Most of the men, including Merritt and Stokes, reached the shaft safely, but it was found that five were still in the pit. Merritt went with Stokes, to their rescue, and penetrated 800 yards along the return airway, in spite of the smoke, which was rapidly increasing in density, and found the men. One of them got out by holding on to Merritt, but the other four were suffocated, and Stokes also lost his life. Merritt did not at first discover that the other men had not followed him, and when he became aware of this he made two further attempts to reach them, but was finally driven back by the smoke, and reached the surface in an exhausted condition.
BURIAL LOCATION: CANNOCK CEMETERY, CANNOCK. STAFFORDSHIRE.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: PRIVATELY HELD.