Thomas Bryan was born in Worcestershire on 21 January 1882. He lived at Bott Lane, Lye, near Stourbridge before moving to Castleford in West Yorkshire as a child. When older, Thomas worked as a miner at Whitwood Colliery, Castleford and was also well known locally as a Rugby League player. His father, also Thomas, worked as miner alongside his son. Thomas Bryan’s mother was Sarah Bryan. By age 29, he had moved out and lived at 29 Hunt Street with his wife (Also Sarah Bryan) and three children.
Thomas enlisted to the Army on 11 May 1915 and was sent to the Western Front. He was a member of the 25 Battalion of the Northumberland Fusiliers. On 9 April 1917 during the Battle of Arras, Thomas crossed no man’s land to disable a German machine gun. Although wounded, he went forward along a communication trench. He alone successfully disabled the gun which was inflicting heavy damage. He killed two of the German gun team as they were routing. This machine gun was a major obstacle to the advancing to the second objective during this offensive. Thomas was awarded the Victoria Cross for these actions on 8 June 1917. He was a Lance Corporal by the time he left the army.
After the war, Thomas moved to Doncaster, finding work at Askern Colliery. He later ran a greengrocers shop in Bentley and died at home on Askern Road on 13 October 1945. He was buried 4 days later in the Arksey Lane Cemetery. He was commemorated on a plaque at the Castleford Civic Centre. His Victoria Cross and other medals (1914-15 Star and British War Medal) are currently on display as part of the Extraordinary Heroes exhibition at the Lord Ashcroft Gallery in the Imperial War Museum. Like all Victoria Cross winners, he is commemorated at the Union Jack Club in Waterloo, London.