Thomas Emery Bainbridge was born on 20 June 1894 and baptised at Gateshead Holy Trinity on 8 July. John Taylor Bainbridge, his wife Edith, sons Thomas and John and daughter May then moved back to his hometown of Tynemouth where John Bainbridge was an Assistant Schoolmaster in 1901. Thomas Bainbridge attended Rutherford College for Boys in Newcastle upon Tyne, and by 1911 he was himself an elementary school pupil schoolmaster, aged 16, living with his family at 4 Curtis Road, Fenham, Newcastle upon Tyne. He was admitted to train as a school teacher at Bede College in Durham in 1913.
Bede College as a coherent community almost ceased to exist upon the outbreak of war. The students, all Territorials in camp as war was declared in July 1914 were mobilised into the 8th Battalion, Durham Light Infantry, 50th division. Those who were not fit or were waiting to be called up went to Cheltenham Training College as nominal Bede students.
Thomas Bainbridge served with the 2/8th Imperial Service Battalion (Territorial Force) of the Durham Light Infantry which was formed in Durham in October 1914 and was deployed to defend the north east coast as far south as the Humber. He was then commissioned as a temporary second lieutenant in the 29th Battalion of the Northumberland Fusiliers (Tyneside Scottish) on 23 October 1915. This was the reserve battalion based at Alnwick, but later he was attached to the 21st Battalion (2nd Tyneside Scottish), 102 Brigade, 34th Division, 5th Army.
Early in 1917 the British Army underwent intensive training in preparation for what became called the Battle of Arras. The 34th Division took part in the First Battle of the Scarpe (9-14 April) within that offensive: tunnels were dug and explosives laid, an immense barrage of shells battered the German lines for days. On Easter Monday 9 April 1917 at 05:30 the infantry advanced slowly through no man’s land in the mud and sleet, preceded by a creeping barrage, with the Royal Flying Corps acting as spotters and defenders in their planes above. They gained the Black Line, their first objective, but the Blue Line 1,200 yards beyond cost many lives. The advance was successful in that ground was gained and the Germans were distracted from the French operations on the Aisne led by General Nivelle, but the death toll was enormous.
Second Lieutenant Bainbridge and his platoon sergeant were killed that morning while at work establishing a bombing post during the advance to the Blue Line. He is buried in the Roclincourt Valley Cemetery. His sacrifice is also commemorated on the Bede College 1914-1918 Cross, Plaque, and Roll of Honour, and on war memorials at Brunswick Methodist Chapel and Rutherford College (now re-located at Tyne & Wear Archives) in Newcastle.