The AIF Project

Walter John THOMAS

Regimental number1765
Place of birthWalgett, New South Wales
SchoolBoggabri Public School, New South Wales
ReligionChurch of England
OccupationFarmer
Marital statusSingle
Age at embarkation18.10
Height5' 10.25"
Weight160 lbs
Next of kinMother, Mrs Mary Jane Thomas, Seven Oaks, Baan Baa, New South Wales
Previous military serviceNil (exempt area under Compulsory Military Training scheme)
Enlistment date4 June 1915
Place of enlistmentLiverpool, New South Wales
Unit name18th Battalion, 6th Reinforcement
AWM Embarkation Roll number23/35/2
Embarkation detailsUnit embarked from Sydney, New South Wales, on board HMAT A14 Euripides on 2 November 1915
Rank from Nominal RollPrivate
Unit from Nominal Roll3rd Battalion
FateDied of wounds 23 July 1916
Miscellaneous details (Nominal Roll)Name does not appear on Nominal Roll.
Age at death from cemetery records21
Place of burialNo known grave
Commemoration detailsAustralian National Memorial, Villers-Bretonneux, France

Villers-Bretonneux is a village about 15 km east of Amiens. The Memorial stands on the high ground ('Hill 104') behind the Villers-Bretonneux Military Cemetery, Fouilloy, which is about 2 km north of Villers-Bretonneux on the east side of the road to Fouilloy.

The Australian National Memorial, Villers-Bretonneux is approached through the Military Cemetery, at the end of which is an open grass lawn which leads into a three-sided court. The two pavilions on the left and right are linked by the north and south walls to the back (east) wall, from which rises the focal point of the Memorial, a 105 foot tall tower, of fine ashlar. A staircase leads to an observation platform, 64 feet above the ground, from which further staircases lead to an observation room. This room contains a circular stone tablet with bronze pointers indicating the Somme villages whose names have become synonymous with battles of the Great War; other battle fields in France and Belgium in which Australians fought; and far beyond, Gallipoli and Canberra.

On the three walls, which are faced with Portland stone, are the names of 10,885 Australians who were killed in France and who have no known grave. The 'blocking course' above them bears the names of the Australian Battle Honours.

After the war an appeal in Australia raised £22,700, of which £12,500 came from Victorian school children, with the request that the majority of the funds be used to build a new school in Villers-Bretonneux. The boys' school opened in May 1927, and contains an inscription stating that the school was the gift of Victorian schoolchildren, twelve hundred of whose fathers are buried in the Villers-Bretonneux cemetery, with the names of many more recorded on the Memorial. Villers-Bretonneux is now twinned with Robinvale, Victoria, which has in its main square a memorial to the links between the two towns.

Panel number, Roll of Honour,
  Australian War Memorial
38
Family/military connectionsBrothers: 2870 Pte Edward Gerald THOMAS, 4th Bn, killed in action, 16 April 1918; 4315 Pte Frederick Henry THOMAS, 2nd Bn, returned to Australia, 2 March 1919; 1015 Pte George Albert THOMAS, 17th Bn, killed in action, 20 September 1917.
Other details

War service: Egypt, Western Front

Died of wounds while a prisoner of war, Germany.

Note, Red Cross File: 'Died 23-7-16 in Gef: St. Clotilde, Douai, from bayonet wound in left upper arm. Cert. by German Death List 26-8-16.'

Statement, 4049 Pte John LOCKHART, B Company, 3rd Bn (patient, 2nd Southern General Hospital, Bristol, England), 16 November 1916: 'I saw Pte Thomas killed by a shell in Pozietes at about 10 a.m. on July 25th 1916. He was left where he fell.'

Medals: 1914-15 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal
Miscellaneous detailsName does not appear on Embarkation Roll. First given name incorrectly entered on NAA site as Walker.
SourcesNAA: B2455, THOMAS Walter John
Red Cross File 2721007J

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