Lt Maurice Wotton Thomas, RFC
Maurice Wotton Thomas was born in Worcester Park Surrey on 27 September 1894, the third child to John Alick and Kate Edith F Thomas (nee Fairbank), who had married in 1890 in Kingston.
Maurice's father John was a 47 year old architect from Stanstead Abbots, but when the 1901 census was taken he and his 40 year old wife Kate were living at "The Croft" Cuddington, Worcester Park, Surrey with their children Mary aged 10, Alec Vaughan aged 8 and Maurice Wotton aged 6, as well as three staff to look after them. Maurice's brother Alec Vaughan Thomas was also killed during the war.
Maurice was educated at Parkside Ewell before going to Osborne College on the Isle of Wight (between 1903-1921 Osborne House, the former home of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert was used as a junior officer training college for the Royal Navy).
Maurice gained his Royal Aero Club Aviator's certificate on a Maurice Farman Biplane at the Military School Birmingham on 1 April 1916 only to be killed four months later, aged 21, in the Battle of the Somme, flying over Bapaume in France on 5 August 1916.
Obituary from the Journal of the Royal Aero Club 2 Aug 1917, which was also in The Times:
Lieutenant MAURICE WOTTON THOMAS, R.F.A. and R.F.C., reported missing on August 5th last year, now officially presumed killed on that date, aged 21, was the younger son of Mr. And Mrs. Alick Thomas, of Worcester Park, Surrey. He was educated at Parkside, Ewell, and in September, 1907 passed into Osborne College, where, as the result of an epidemic he contracted an illness, which necessitated his being invalided, as unfit, from the Royal Navy in 1910. After 18 months of convalescence he was allowed to continue his education with Mr. Sellar, of St. Andrew's, and Mr. Tinniswood, of Camberley, whence he passed into Woolwich in 1912, and, passing out in September 1914, received his commission in the R.F.A.
In May 1915, he went to the front as A.D.C. to a general, commanding an R.A. division, and was promoted lieutenant in July, when it was decided that he was specially qualified by his training for the R.F.C., to which he was seconded as observer. After many thrilling experiences he was wounded in an accident in December 1915, and came home. He made a speedy recovery, and was sent to a reserve squadron and gained his wings. In May 1916, he was again sent out, doing much valuable work over the enemy positions. He was a fine revolver shot and a member of the shooting eight when at Woolwich.
His elder brother, Captain Alec Vaughan Thomas, E. Surrey Regiment, attached 2nd Hampshire Regiment, was killed in Gallipoli, August 6th, 1915, aged 22.
Maurice was awarded the 1915 Star, British War medal and the Victory medal.
Almost every year between1938-1950 the following appeared in The Times:
IN MEMORIAM ON ACTIVE SERVICE
Thomas - To the dear memory of two devoted sons, Alec Vaughan Thomas (Repton and Oriel). Temporary Capt., East Surrey Regiment, who fell before Krithia, Gallipoli, Aug 6 1915, aged 22, and Maurice Wotton Thomas RAF and RFC, who fell in the Somme advance flying over Bapaume Aug 5 1916 aged 21.
Maurice is commemorated on the Arras Flying Services Memorial.
5 August 1916
Image courtesy The Royal Aero Club
Text courtesy Epsom and Ewell History Explorer