Richard Greville Thonger was born in Yorkshire on 8 April 1861. He worked as a pharmacist's assistant in Birmingham and London before being converted at The Salvation Army's newly opened Regent Hall corps early in 1882. He entered officer training in the same year and was appointed to Switzerland as part of the pioneer party with The Maréchale in December 1882. In Switzerland he served at the Geneva and Rolle corps. At Rolle he was charged with selling song books without a licence and imprisoned for 12 days. In September 1883 he opened the corps at Chambery in southern France and was appointed to the Ardèche Division in 1884 where he met Evodie Philit whom he married on 7 April 1886. He served in France until he was appointed to Belgium in 1891 and then returned as a Divisional Officer to South-West France the following year. In 1893 Richard and Evodie took command of the Italian Salvation Army and remained there until they returned to International Headquarters (IHQ) in London in 1896. Thonger then held a number of Divisional appointments in the UK before joining the staff at IHQ in 1899, first in the Central Staff Department and later in the newly formed Medical Department.
The last known reference to Richard and Evodie as officers is from 1900. By 1932 Richard had left Salvation Army officership and was Sergeant-Major at a corps in Paris. In the late 1930s he was living at Les Ollières in the Ardèche, where Evodie lived until her death in 1945. Richard died on 15 November 1941. They had seven children, among them William Gilbert Thonger (a Methodist minister in Belgium), Edmond Gréville Thonger (who directed and wrote films in France as Edmond T Gréville) and Lucie Thonger who became a Salvation Army officer, married Emile Studer and served in France and Switzerland.