Brigadier General, Royal Artillery
Born: March 27th, 1856
Died: February 17th 1919
Age at Death: 62
Died as a result of the war, February 17th 1919.
R.M.A. Woolwich. Served in Royal Artillery in Afghan War 1878-80, Egypt & Soudan, War in South Africa, 1899-1902 (Despatches, D.S.O. and Queen’s Medal with 7 Clasps). Retired.
GW. 1914-19 Commanded 24th Artillery Division in France, C.B. D.L. for Sussex.
Wall of Remembrance, Harlow St Mary Churchyard.
A donation to the memorial statue has been made in honour of this soldier by Andrew Rose (Br. 1973-76).
Brigadier General Sir Godfrey Vignoles Thomas Bt. CB CBE DSO (1868–1871)
Godfrey Thomas was born on 27 March 1856 in Ceregdion, Wales, although the family seat was in Essex. He was the elder son and second child of Sir Godfrey Thomas Bt. and his wife Emily (née Chambers). He succeeded to his father’s baronetcy at the age of five and the family subsequently moved to Brighton where he was a day pupil at the College. He completed his education at the RMA Woolwich and received a commission in the Royal Horse Artillery in 1875. In 1887 he married Mary Oppenheim, by whom he had one son, Godfrey, who was later to be the assistant private secretary to Edward VIII during the abdication crisis. Thomas served in the Second Afghan War (1878–1880) and the Anglo-Egyptian War (1884) and was promoted to Major in 1892. During the Boer War he was twice mentioned in despatches during the Boer War and promoted to Colonel. Following the Boer War he was awarded the DSO and made a Companion of the Order of the Bath. In 1909 he received his final promotion, to Brigadier-General, and given command of 3rd Division Artillery before retiring from the army in 1911.
However, on the outbreak of war in 1914 he was recalled and given command first of the 24th Division artillery from 1914–1915 and later of the 2nd Reserve Brigade RFA, a home service formation used for training. In 1916 he was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire in recognition of his long service. Shortly after the end of the war, on 17 February 1919, he died from exhaustion brought on by his war service.
Thomas’ grave is in St Mary and St Hugh Churchyard, Harlow, Essex.
Source: LEST WE FORGET PROJECT, Brighton College 2014/15