Thomas was born in 1893 at Ogbourne St Andrew, Wiltshire; in 1911 he was living with his parents, father James (aged 60, a Roadman), his Mother Ann (62), and (Grand Daughter?) Florence E.W (9). Thomas was locally employed as a ‘Domestic Gardner’. He enlisted at Devizes and after his basic training, joined the 5th Battalion (Duke of Edinburgh’s) Wiltshire Regiment in Gallipoli prior to their evacuation by ship to the Helles Bridgehead. Finally on 8-9th January 1916, the 13th (Western) Division was evacuated from Helles and by 31st January 1916 was concentrated at Port Said where the Division held forward posts in the Suez Canal defences. Subsequently the Regiment moved in February 1916 to Mesopotamia and was involved in the ill fated attempts of the relief of Kut-al-Amara, which surrendered to the Turks 29 April 1916.
Following the fall of Kut, Between May and December 1916, the 13th Division refitted and re-equipped in preparation for the drive northward to capture Baghdad. In July, Major-General Maude was elevated to command the expanded and renamed Mesopotamian Expeditionary Force. On 12th December 1916, the division advanced from Sheik Sa'ad on Kut. At the Second Battle of Kut, the division helped drive the Turkish forces from the town. After a brief pause, the division drove north, crossing the Diyala River, and participated in the capture of Baghdad on 11th March 1917. Following the capture of Baghdad, the 13th Division fought a number of battles to consolidate British control over the area north of Baghdad. This included fighting at Dellis Abbas (27–28th March 1917), and Duqma (29th March 1917).
The War Diary for the 29 March 1917 States:
Regiment 5th Wiltshire
Location Mesopotamia, Palm Tree Post
Entry At 2.30a.m Battalion with first line transport moved forward to rendezvous at Railway Stn. thence along NAHRWAN CANAL to point of assembly in Canal about 3800yds south of enemy's advance position. Patrols sent forward located deep nullah 1400yds north to which the Battalion advanced in good order under shell fire. At 9a.m the Battalion moved forward to the attack and immediately came under heavy enfilade shell Machine Gun and rifle fire. In spite of this, however, the advance pushed forward in masterly style until finally held up about 1300yds from enemy position driving in their advanced troops. Our casualties were heavy owing to the entire absence of cover. Officers killed 2Lt C.T. BISHOP. Wounded Capt. E. F. BROWN, Lts E.L. HARRISON, W.T. WRIGLEY, J.M. DODINGTON. 2nd Lts. L.B.F. O'BRIEN, E.A.D. PARRY, W.H. RANDALL. Other ranks Killed 27. Wounded 132. Message from Brig Gen LEWIN C.B., C.M.G., and D.S.O. received "Well done Wilts your advance was magnificent." The enemy evacuated his whole position during the night.
It was during this assault on the Turkish Trenches; Private James Eggleton was killed in action.
James Eggleton is remembered with Honour on the Basra Memorial, on panel 30 and 64. The Basra Memorial commemorates more than 40,500 members of the Commonwealth forces who died in the operations in Mesopotamia from the autumn of 1914 to the end of august 1921 and whose graves are not known.
When the Ogbourne St Andrew Village War Memorial was opened in the 1920’s Tom’s Mother, Ann, was present at the ceremony.