Private W Thomas

Private W Thomas, service number unknown, regiment unknown.

Private W Thomas, service number unknown, regiment unknown.

On 30 January 1915 a photograph of four soldiers from Manchester was printed in the Co-operative News. Before the war these men were employed as clerks at the Co-operative Insurance Society (CIS) headquarters, but the upheaval of the world conflict saw them stationed in Egypt. These men may not have left their home towns before, let alone their country.

The article stated that although they were situated in different parts of the country, they came together for the purpose of this photograph. It does not explain whether they came together for any other reason. The man pictured sitting down was Private W Thomas, mysteriously referred to in a previous edition of the publication as “Dr Abdul.” No explanation is given for this nickname either.


Co-operative News, 30 January 1915, page 123.

WWI co-operative voices

This post is part of ‘WWI co-operative voices’ which shares the stories of co-operative workers and members during the conflict. In order to mark the centenary of the WWI, the Rochdale Pioneers Museum is staging an exhibition entitled ‘From shop floor to front line’ and the accounts of these soldiers, shop workers and conscientious objectors will run alongside it. They are tales of death, duty and of those who chose not to fight.

Through ‘WWI co-operative voices’ we will be releasing new posts about these individuals throughout the duration of the exhibition (due to open mid-May 2015 and run until May 2016). Read about the co-operative movement’s involvement in a war that shook the world by selecting a name from the column on the left. You can also follow us on social media for regular updates.

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We wish to thank the Heritage Lottery Fund for supporting the ‘From shop floor to front line’ exhibition and project.