Sergeant Thomas Filbee was born in Hornsey and enlisted in the Rifle Brigade at Newark in March 1877, aged 19 years. Initially posted to the 4th Battalion, he transferred as a Corporal to the 1st Battalion in March 1882, in which month he embarked for the East Indies. Advanced to Sergeant in November 1885, Filbee served in operations in Upper Burma between October 1886 and March 1889, thereafter enjoying appointment as a member of the Battalion's Cyclist Club in Calcutta, in addition to postings to Hong Kong and Singapore until returning home in February 1898. He was discharged in the following month, having added a L.S. and G.C. Medal to his two-clasp I.G.S. Medal back in July 1895.