Thomas was born on the 29th of March 1883, in Wellington. In 1891 he was in Standard One at Wadestown School.
When Thomas enlisted to fight on the 19th of April 1915, he was still living in Wadestown and was working for Blundell Bros, the printing firm that published the Evening Post newspaper.
This paper, which was founded by Henry Blundell in 1865, was merged in 2002 with the Dominion to become Wellington’s current daily paper – the Dominion Post.
I never knew fear after that.
From his diary, after his boat was torpedoed during its approach to Gallipoli in 1915
Service in Gallipoli, Egypt and France
Thomas’s unit when he left New Zealand with the 5th Reinforcements in June 1915 was the New Zealand Field Artillery. They arrived in Gallipoli at the beginning of September, missing the worst of the fighting, although Thomas’ boat was torpedoed as it approached land. Despite being unable to swim, Thomas escaped unscathed. Many of his comrades were killed, however, as were horses that had been part of the boat’s cargo. Recalling that moment, Thomas reflected, “I never knew fear after that.”
Thomas was subsequently posted to Egypt, then France. He also had periods of leave in England. He survived both heavy bombardment and gas attacks, recording the horrors of war in brief sentences in his diary: “Our position was heavily bombarded. Crossroads badly shelled. Wagons and teams blown into the air… Gas put over, had to don helmets. Plenty of rain and up to your neck in mud.”
When the war ended in November 1918 Thomas was among the lucky minority of soldiers to have avoided death or injury. He had had the “grand tour” of Europe many young New Zealanders thought they would be getting when they left enlisted.
After the War
Thomas left London for New Zealand on the 1st of February, 1919. He had been away from home for three and a half years. He returned to Wellington and resumed his job at the Evening Post, and in 1922 married Florence Stansell at All Saints’ Church in Kilbirnie.
They lived in Ngaio, where Thomas was heavily involved with the local Returned Services Association. During World War Two, Thomas was a member of the Wellington Reserve Battalion.
Thomas Lomas died on the 2nd of February, 1973, shortly before his 90th birthday.
Lomas family archives