Charles Thomas appears to have loved sport, playing cricket for South Canterbury but making his mark as an administrator in the early years of the twentieth century. From 1904 to 1908, he was President of the South Canterbury Cricket Association, a role he combined with the presidency of the New Zealand Cricket Council in 1906. Following his term as NZCC President, he remained involved with the organisation, serving as Vice-President in 1908. On his appointment as NZCC President he expressed his pleasure that someone from the South Canterbury region had been chosen for the post. In 1911, he broadened his service, becoming Chairman of the New Zealand Amateur Athletic Association. All of these duties were carried out while he continued to ply his trade as doctor and surgeon, including the post of Port Health Officer in Timaru.
However, Thomas cannot be cast as simply a desk-bound administrator. He was no stranger to war, having served as surgeon in the Boer conflict in South Africa and, on the outbreak of hostilities in 1914, he immediately joined the Medical Corps of the Mounted Brigade Field Ambulance. Thomas was 48 years old at the time. He embarked for Suez in October 1914 and from Suez he would be posted to Gallipoli. There is a lovely extract from his diary describing a break on that fateful journey to Anzac Cove:
May 29th 1915. H.M. Transport “Iverine”. Had an easy time on Lemnos Island for five days. Beautiful sea bathing. Played cricket for my unit against the Australians. The Australians won easily. I made 27, second highest score on our side.
Thomas landed at Gallipoli sometime in early August 1915. On the 28th of August he was involved in the fight for what was known as Hill 60. Leading stretcher parties that were attempting to pick up casualties he was killed instantly by the blast from a shell. He was buried in Embarkation Pier Cemetery, Turkey. Obituaries of Thomas praised his bravery and stressed his public service.
Charles Ernest Thomas; b. January 31st 1864, Bangalore, India, d. August 28th 1915, near Hill 60, Gallipoli.