King's College London
War Memorials

Wright, Thomas

In the death of Mr Wright the staff of King's College has suffered its first loss during the present war. The outbreak last August found Mr Wright preparing to go to Germany for further study of Chemistry, but instead he was called up with King Edward's Horse, in which for some time he had been a trooper. He was under canvas at Watford until 14 December, when he received a commission in the Royal Berks Regiment. For a little over 2 months he was stationed at Southsea and then owing to the heavy casualties his regiment was sustaining in France, he was sent out considerably before his turn. He was very keen on his work and in a sense this proved his undoing.

On Sunday 2 May, he was on duty in the trenches with his platoon at F'anquissant, near Levantie (in the Neuve Chapelle area), at 8pm. 2 hours later his captain passed his dugout and Lt Wright asked permission to go out with the next patrol as, although it was not his turn, he liked reconnoitring and was anxious to follow up his results. He was allowed to go out again and proceeded with a sergeant to the trench in question. There he was seized by a fit of coughing and although he smothered this for some time he had finally to cough out. It was fatal. The enemy sent up flares and the flimsy parapet behind which he and the sergeant were hiding proved no protection. Three bullets struck him through the head, heart and wrist he fell dead without a sound. A search party guided by the sergeant subsequently removed his body and he was buried at F'anquissart next evening. 'As an officer he was most promising' writes Major R.P. Hartley, 'he was always willing, quite reliable and of a most placid and cool temperament in danger. He was deservedly popular with all the NCOs and men of his platoon.

Mr Wright entered the Day Training Department 1908 and in his professional work there displayed great ability. During his 4th year he became a student demonstrator in Chemistry and 1916 took both his AKC and 1st class honours at B.Sc. In the spring of 1913 he returned to college as demonstrator in Chemistry, and speedily became a popular and successful teacher of that subject. In the early summer of 1914 he was awarded an open competition, one of the travelling scholarships on Sir Ernest Cassel's foundation. He was the only one awarded outside Oxford or Cambridge. Had he lived and had peace prevailed there is no doubt therefore that he would have gone far in his subject. Such promising young scientists can ill be spared to the country as a whole.

Despite his great gifts he was a man of deep simplicity of character. His family have been catholic for generations and when he came to King's he said it was "up to him" to be loyal. And unobtrusively loyal he was, of a piety quiet but sincere. To be honoured with his friendship was an experience the uplifting influence of a man of unsullied purity of life, whose hidden life was founded in simple prayer.

Integer vitae, scelerique purus. King's College Review June 1915


First name(s)Thomas
Family detailsSon of Stephen and Agnes Wright, Muskington, Sleaford, Lincs
CollegeKing's College London and/or King's College London Hospital
Dates at college1908
Dept / courseFaculty of Science, Chemistry
QualificationsB.Sc. and A.K.C
Military unitSpecial reserve attached to 2nd battalion 3rd Royal Berkshire Regiment
War / conflictWorld War One (1914-1918)
Date of death2 May 1915
Rank at death2nd Lieutenant
Place of deathFanquissart
Cause of deathShot by sniper fire
Burial placeFanquissart
Commemoration(s)King's College Chapel

Dear Principal, T. Wright (late Demonstrator in chemistry and now of King Edward’s Horse) has been recommended for a commission. He has sent me the enclosed form, and asks me to obtain your signature to the Certificate of Good Conduct on Page 3. You will observe that the certificate must cover four years. It therefore would be perhaps useful if I say that Wright entered the Day Training Department in 1908 and stayed on a fourth year, taking the B.Sc. in Honours Chemistry, with the A.K.C., and as a teacher distinguished himself. In first these qualities an officer needs – perfect power and control, clear exposition and indisputable grit. After completing his degree he returned to the College as a lecturer so that he has a practically unbroken record for six years here. Yours faithfully Albert A. Cock 

SourcesKing's College London Archives; Commonwealth War Graves Commission

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Wright, Thomas
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