Thomas was born on 13th November 1894 to Elizabeth Brown. He was born out of wedlock and was adopted by his grandmother Mrs Ann Storey. The family lived at Lanhead, Muggleswick, County Durham. Through his mother's later marriage, he had six half-siblings.
He was educated at Muggleswick Church of England School and was a star pupil, winning a scholarship to Consett Technical Institute in 1908. He then studied Metallurgy at Armstrong College. As a schoolboy, he studied music and pianoforte and later was active in musical circles in Newcastle and was considered to be of considerable talent.
Thomas was conscripted into the Royal Engineers, "A" Special Company in September 1916 before he could graduate. These companies consisted of scientists, chemists, and other men who had particular skills and knowledge useful to gas warfare. He trained in Davenport, near Plymouth, and joined the British Expeditionary Force in France in November 1916. He was given leave for a week in the autumn of 1917, but returned to France in the November.
In his regular letters home, he would enquire about farming matters and commented he would rather have a sermon in Muggleswick Church than listen to the continuous thunder of guns. In a letter of March 1918, he asked his family for £4 to pay for his degree to be finalised and promised to pay them back as soon as he could return.
Thomas was killed in action on 21st March 1918 aged 25. This was the first day of the German offensive in the Second Battle of the Somme. The company were at Savy; a small ruined village near St. Quentin. A message meant for them, which instructed them to remain in reserve, did not reach them as the messenger was wounded. In thick mist, they stumbled into a trench full of Germans who had unknowingly advanced. They were taken prisoner, but in the midst of this Thomas was hit in the heart by a stray bullet.