Robert was born in 1896 in Oswestry and baptised there on September 3rd 1896. His parents, Richard, a general labourer and, later, a sheet maker, and Marie were living at 11, Oswald Place in 1901 together with the eldest child, Fanny, and his three older brothers: Alfred, John and Richard. By 1911 his mother, still at Oswald Place, had been widowed and all his siblings were married. It seems probable that Robert himself was recorded in the Census as a ‘farm servant’ employed by a Mr. Madeley of Row Farm, Ellesmere. What is certain is that he enlisted into the K.S.L.I. in 1915 – possibly as soon as he was of age. He was enlisted into the 8 Bn but was drafted into the 7 Bn before the 8 Bn embarked for Salonika.
The 7Bn sailed to France in September 1915 and was deployed in the Ypres Salient sector. By April 1916 the Battalion had moved to the southern part of the sector and were occupying trenches in the St. Eloi area. At the beginning of May they relieved the 8 Bn East Yorks. in Ridge Wood as the Brigade reserve. They were billeted at La Clytte, which was relatively safe and comfortable – but the way up to the front line was difficult and exposed to shell fire. The Bn, from this position, was supplying working parties for repair work to the more forward trenches. The enemy were active and there were frequent bombardments by trench mortars and artillery as the Bn, on 8 May, began a 7 day tour of duty in trenches near to Bois Carre. On May 11 the Bn lost 1 officer, 2/Lt Bolt (DoW) and 7OR’s one of whom was Robert Thomas. Robert and his six comrades are buried alongside each other in La Clytte Military Cemetery.