He was born in Willingham in 1882, the youngest of four sons of Ephraim and Harriet (nee Retton). He was a railway porter and went to South Africa where, in 1910 his occupation is a stationmaster. By 1915 he was living at ‘Germiston’, Harston and his elder brother William & wife Louisa were living on Cambridge Road, Harston
He joined the 3rd Battalion, South African Infantry (15 Platoon, D Company). He was killed on 15 July 1916, the first day of a six day Battle of Delville Wood, the first major action his battalion had seen. Of around 3200 South African soldiers, only 750 survived a massive onslaught. A German officer wrote
… Delville Wood had disintegrated into a shattered wasteland of shattered trees, charred and burning stumps, craters thick with mud and blood, and corpses, corpses everywhere. In places they were piled four deep. Worst of all was the lowing of the wounded. It sounded like a cattle ring at the spring fair….
He is buried at Sucrerie Military Cemetery Colincamps, Somme, France grave I. BB. 36. and is commemorated on the memorial at the Wesley Methodist church, Short Street, Cambridge
He is remembered on the gravestone of his brother & sister-in-law in the Button End cemetery with the words ‘With thanksgiving to God for the life and work of William and Laban Thoday