Thomas was born in 1895 the son of Thomas and Mary Stephens who already had a daughter Florence, born in 1893.
The census of 1901 shows our Thomas with his sister Florence living with his mother and father in Tregonetha. Also with the family is Thomas’s grandfather, another Thomas, a widower aged 79. His father is a farmer. In 1911, the family is still resident in Tregonetha. Father Thomas is described as a farmer, Thomas junior is working on the farm and Florence is carrying out dairy work.
There is a Thomas Brenton in the London Regiment and one in the Army Service Corps. I somehow doubt a good west country boy would have enlisted into the London Regiment so perhaps our Thomas enlisted into the Army Service Corps (ASC).
The ASC were the unsung heroes of the British Army in the Great War. Soldiers cannot fight without food, equipment and ammunition. They cannot move without horses or vehicles. It was the job of the ASC to provide them and who performed quite amazing feats of logistics. The ASC served in all the numerous theatres of war and were one of the great strengths of organisation by which the War was won. At its peak, the ASC numbered in excess of 10,500 officers and 315,000 men.
Thomas’ regimental number was M2/180792 which denotes he was in the mechanised section of the ASC.
Whilst researching Thomas’ military records, I came across another Thomas Brenton who happened to be our Thomas’ father! Thomas senior signed up on 26 October 1914 at the age of 50. His service records show that he enlisted into the Royal Defence Corps loosely attached to the 3rd Battalion Duke of Cornwall Light Infantry. His regimental number was 7356.
The Royal Defence Corps (RDC) was initially formed by converting home service garrison battalions comprised of soldiers too old or medically unfit for active front line service. The role of the corps was to provide troops for security and guard duty inside the UK, guarding important locations such as ports, bridges and later prisoner of war camps. The corps was never intended to be employed overseas. By April 1918 some 27,000 men were in the RDC, half employed at prisoner of war camps.
In March 1915, Thomas senior injured himself by slipping when climbing a mound. He was actually on duty and guarding an air shaft of the Badminton railway tunnel. He did not report sick but provided himself with a truss. He eventually reported sick in October 1916 with severe abdominal pains. He was sent to hospital where he had a hernia operation but his ailment continued to be problematic. He was eventually declared to be unfit for military service and was discharged from the RDC on 23 November 1917. He received both the silver war badge and a small pension as he was injured whilst on active service.
Thomas junior married Ethel Gatley in 1922.
The register of 1939 shows Thomas senior living in Tregonetha as a farm labourer. He is a warden of St Wenn Church and remained so until his death. His wife Mary died the previous year in 1938. Thomas himself died in 1963. Thomas junior meanwhile is also living in Tregonetha with Ethel.They lived at St Kilda. Thomas is a farmer. They had two daughters Monica Cora born December 1923 and Sylvia Celia born March 1930.John James knew both father and son and went to school with Sylvia.
Ethel died in 1964 and Thomas in 1975. Both are in the same grave in the churchyard at St Columb Major. Daughter Silvia died in 1988 and Monica in 1995. Monica left a son Robert Fuller.