19 July 2011

George Albert Thomas, by Robert Hughes

Robert Hughes, the great-nephew of the writer Lionel Britton, continues to throw light on his family history, this time concerning the Spanish Civil War.

George Albert Thomas was born in Coventry, Warwickshire, England, 25 Feb 1915, and was previously mentioned in this blog in an entry dated 17 November 2008, which described how his parents brought him to Saskatchewan, Canada.

His father was George Thomas, b. 1873 in Billancourt, Paris, to Samuel Thomas and his Belgian wife Marie-Antoinette (née Goffin).

His mother was Ethel May Thomas (née Morris), b. 1884 in Holt, Wiltshire, England, to Albert William Morris, a gardener on a big estate, and his wife Mary Ann (née Fisher).

Initially George and Ethel May went to Wolseley, where George’s brother Frank had already established himself as a nurseryman. Forestry was very big in the province at that time and Frank seems to have found employment planting trees, but George, the father of George Albert, seems to have been more of a mechanic, and eventually gravitated to the larger city of Saskatoon.

George Albert clearly joined the Mackenzie-Papineau Battalion and fought in the Civil War in Spain, where he died - details here.

Under the heading of ‘The Volunteers’ we can see there is only one George Thomas and that he is listed as Missing in Action, which in the context of that war meant he is almost bound to have been killed. (See any number of sources about the Spanish Civil War, which amply confirm that foreign ‘irregulars’ were not given Prisoner of War status, and therefore summararily executed.)

It is worth speculating about a radical streak in the Thomas family: in this guy it manifested itself in an urge to fight and die for a quixotic cause, and in the case of Lionel Britton a determination not to be sent out to die for any cause. (He was a conscientious objector in World War I.)

George Albert has a significant physical resemblance to his grandmother Marie-Antoinette, see photo below. Put him in drag and grey his hair and you would never know.

This lad will have gone to give his life for something he believed in, but to me as a cousin of his it seems a tragedy.


Anonymous said...

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Snatch51 said...

Hi Anonymous,

Were you commenting on this post about George Albert, or Dr Tony Shaw's blog generally?

If about George I would really love to know what you can tell us!