Edward Algernon D'Arcy Thomas was an old Cheltonian, and was commissioned into the 29th Foot from Sandhurst in 1878. He was one of the very few surviving officers of the 29th who went to India with that battalion in January, 1879.
His first regimental appointment was that of Instructor-in-Musketry to the battalion, then considered to be the stepping stone to the Adjutancy, which eventually fell to him in Karachi in 1886. He was always spoken of as one of the best Adjutants the battalion ever had. His memory was marvellous, and he knew pretty well everyone of the 1000 men of the battalion by name. It was said, with a semblance of truth, perhaps, that during his Adjutancy from 1886 to 1890, the 1st battalion was an "Adjutant's battalion"; meaning, it is supposed, that the "Command" of the battalion reflected the policy of the Adjutant rather than that of the Commanding Officer. But when the General was told this some forty years afterwards, he said, "I never knew of that before. But it is a libel, really, as I never did a thing that had not the full approval of Ned Carrington." (Note.—Colonel Edmund Carrington, who then commanded the Battalion.)
In December, 1890, he relinquished his Adjutancy for employment on the Staff; first as Station Staff Officer, Poona, and then as D.A.A.G. Kampti. He afterwards served for a further five years with the Bengal Nagpur Railway Volunteers.
On re-joining for regimental duty in 1901, he was posted to the (then) newly-formed 3rd Battalion Worcestershire Regiment in Tipperary as Second-in-Command, and he afterwards commanded that battalion from February 1904, to February 1908. He was a strict disciplinarian, but wholly just; he was as quick to applaud and reward good work as he was to deal with failings. His genial manner, and his methods of exercising his command, and his complete understanding of his men, won their willing service and love and admiration.
It was his outstanding success as a battalion commander that brought him to the notice of Sir John French, the Commander-in-Chief, Aldershot. His battalion was fit and efficient in every respect, and was the best shooting battalion in the Aldershot Command, if not in the whole Army.
After witnessing a demonstration of rapid shooting by some teams of the battalion, Sir John said that he had never before seen such marvellous shooting. It was well-merited praise, too. But it was not for shooting alone that the then Colonel Thomas was brought to notice. If there were experiments to be carried out, whether of new equipment or anything else, it was said that Command Headquarters would say "Send it along to Thomas. He'll try it out and tell you if there is any good in it."
Brig.-General E. A. D'Arcy Thomas
(known as "D'Arcy")