Thomas Swallow was not recorded in the Abbots Langley Parish Records. His connection with the village was identified through a search of the Ancestry online records in 2014. Thomas was registered at Watford in early 1888, and he was christened at Abbots Langley on 29th January 1888. In the 1901 Census Thomas was recorded as one of seven children living at Asylum Road, Abbots Langley. His father, Thomas, was employed as a Coachman at Leavesden Asylum. In the spring of 1907 he married Edith Tyler. Edith died in child-birth and Thomas then married Ethel May Taylor in the Autumn of 1910. In the 1911 Census he was listed as a Sugar Boiler, living at 43 Regent Street, Watford, and by the time that he enlisted in 1915 the couple had three children and Thomas was employed as a Kitchenman at the Leavesden Asylum.
Thomas enlisted to the 3rd Buffs (East Kent Regiment) on 16th November 1915 at Watford. At that time he was living at 53 Windsor Road, Callowland, Watford. He was immediately assigned to the Army Reserve and sent home to await being mobilised. On 30th May 1916 he was mobilised to the East Kent Regiment. He was “Confined to Barracks” for seven days at Dover on 3rd August 1916 for “not complying with an order given by an NCO”, and on 7th October was fitted with dentures. He joined the 7th Buffs on 13th November, and moved to France to join the BEF. On 9th March 1917 Thomas was admitted to 4 Casualty Clearing Station (CCS) in the Field, and was diagnosed with nephrites (inflammation of the kidneys). He was transferred to 14 General Hospital at Wimereux on 12th March and on 17th embarked on Hospital Ship “Princess Elizabeth” to return to England. He remained at the East Suffolk and Ipswich Hospital at Ipswich until 4th June 1917, and at other hospitals in England until 7th November, when he returned to France. He joined the 6th Buffs on 10th November, and on 20th November was admitted to 5 CCS having received a machine gun-shot wound to the arm. He was sent by Ambulance Train, firstly to 12 General Hospital at Rouen, and then by Hospital Ship “Warilda” to England on 26th November 1917. Between 27th November and 7th December he was admitted to the Military Hospital at Carrington, Nottingham, and then was transferred to the Military Convalescent Hospital at Ashton in Makerfield. He spent time at other hospitals and was finally admitted to Mill Lane Hospital in Manchester, before being discharged to Home Leave on 25th February 1918. He returned to France on 5th April, and joined 7th Buffs. On 28th May 1918 he was appointed unpaid Lance Corporal, and on 6th August 1918 was killed in action.
On 24th February 1919 his wife, was awarded a pension of 43 shillings and 9 pence per week (approximately £2-33 in modern money) for herself and five children. One of the children – Ethel – from his first marriage was living with her grand-mother at 291 High Street, Watford, and ten per cent of the pension was made payable to her Guardian.
In November 1920 Ethel’s uncle contacted the War Office in an attempt to obtain the memorial Plaque to commemorate Thomas, for his niece. A Memorial Plaque and Scroll was awarded to the family of every serviceman who died in the War. Thomas’ Plaque had already been sent to his second wife and family, and Ethel wished to have the Plaque to remember her father The War Office declined, saying that duplicates could not be issued, and suggested that the Uncle approach Ethel Mary to ask her to hand over the original.
Thomas Swallow was buried at Beacon Cemetery, Sailly-Laurette, east of Amiens, Somme France. He was not commemorated on the Abbots Langley War Memorial.