According to a letter from his colonel, Captain Howard Victor Fraser Thomas MC, 11th Battalion, Royal -Scots, was killed in action by a bullet to his head whilst gallantly leading his company into action at Vichte during the final push against the Germans in the Battle of Courtrai.
Born in Inverness on 9th June 1897, Howard was the only son of parents Harry Dewdney Thomas and Mary Inglis Thomas (née Fraser) who had married in December 1890. The couple also had two daughters – Margaret (born 24th October 1891) and Katharine Mary (born 27th April 1894).
Harry Dewdney Thomas was born in Exeter, Devon but, after graduating from Oxford University, spend most of his life as a teacher in Scotland. He was headmaster at Inverness College before becoming joint headmaster of Cargilfield School, Cramond Bridge, Midlothian – the first and oldest preparatory school in Scotland – in 1898. He remained at the school until his sudden death, aged 65, in 1924.
From 1906-1911, Howard Thomas was educated at Packwood Haugh preparatory school, then in the rural district of Solihull. He went onto Winchester College 1911-1915, where he was a house prefect, a Corporal in the Officers’ Training Corps, and represented his house in the steeplechase.
In September 1915, shortly after leaving Winchester College, he was commissioned Second Lieutenant with the 3rd Battalion, Royal Scots, going to the Front in May 1916. He was wounded at the Battle of Arras in 1917 and received the Military Cross for conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. The citation in the Edinburgh Gazette, 30th July 1917 reads:
He led his platoon to the second objective with great courage, where he organised a party and outflanked the enemy, enfilading them, inflicting heavy losses. He was wounded but carried on throughout the day.
He returned to the Front in May 1918 and was attached to the 11th Battalion, Royal Scots. Writing to his parents after the death of their son, his colonel said “Your son was a great favourite amongst his fellow officers, and was admired by his men for his cool courage and ability to lead them in a tight place.”
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