Private Thomas Eccleston was born in Willenhall in May 1893, the son of Alfred and Ann Eccleston. His brother Alfred was born in 1885 and his sister Eliza in 1897. The 1911 census records Thomas working as a ‘labourer for a stamper’. In December 1914 he married Emily Horton in Wolverhampton and their daughter Dorothy was born the following year.
Thomas, Emily and Dorothy appear to have moved to Heath Hayes c.1915 and he is known to have worked as a coal miner at the Coppice Colliery (known locally as the ‘Fair Lady’).
It was around this time that Thomas also enlisted with the 2nd Battalion South Wales Borders and during active service it was reported that he had survived several dangerous incidents, including being on-board a transport ship which was torpedoed.
Sadly in September 1918 his family received official notice that Thomas had been killed in action on 20th August that year. His widow Emily was expecting their second child when she received the dreadful news and their son Frank was born in November 1918. After his death his family received a letter from a Military Chaplain who wrote ‘Private Eccleston always did his duty most nobly and led a good Christian life’.
Thomas was buried at the Outtersteene Communal Cemetery Extension Balleul in France and is commemorated on the Heath Hayes War Memorial.