Tress Coombs was a son of Thomas Coombs and Emily Adelaide Coombs (nee Humby), and was born at New Glenelg in 1893. When Tress was young his family moved to Woodleigh Rd, Blackwood, and he attended Cherry Gardens and Coromandel Valley Public Schools. As a young man he was a keen cricketer, playing for both Blackwood Cricket Club and the Coromandel Valley 2nd XI, and was a useful bowler. He was also a member of the Blackwood Rifle Club and was actively involved with the Blackwood, Belair and Coromandel Boy's Club.
He was one of the first men from the Blackwood area to enlist, signing his papers on 24 August 1914, less than three weeks after war was declared. He enlisted at Morphettville, where the 10th Battalion was being raised, and he was allotted to B or "Beer' Company, along with Pte FW Jones, another Blackwood man. He was presented with a pocketbook at a farewell by the Coromandel Valley Cricket Club on 9 September. After a few weeks training the battalion embarked on the 'Ascanius' on 20 October and sailed for the Middle East. By December 1914 the battalion was camped in tents at the foot of the Pyramids in Egypt. Training continued till early April 1915 when the battalion moved to Alexandria and then to the island of Lemnos in the Aegean Sea.
'Beer' Company along with C or 'Cork' Company of the 10th Battalion were in the first wave ashore at Gallipoli in the early hours of 25 April 1915. During the confused, hard fighting that day, Tress Coombs was wounded in the leg and evacuated on an improvised hospital ship to Cairo, where he arrived on 30 April. By that time nearly half of the battalion had become casualties. He recovered quickly, returning to Gallipoli on 18 July, just as the unsanitary conditions were resulting in many cases of dysentery. By mid-August half the remaining battalion members had been evacuated with diahorrea. Tress himself was hospitalised on 12 August with diahorrea, and put aboard the hospital ship 'Valdavia', but died of enteric fever (also known as typhoid or paratyphoid fever) on 16 August 1915. He was buried in the East Mudros cemetery on the island of Lemnos, Greece.
Tress Coombs' name is inscribed on the State National War Memorial, the Blackwood Soldiers Memorial, and the Coromandel Valley Primary School Roll of Honour.