The AIF Project


Regimental number3323
Place of birthNewport, Monmouthshire, South Wales
True NameThomas James
Age on arrival in Australia4
ReligionRoman Catholic
AddressHenrietta Street, Waverley, New South Wales
Marital statusMarried
Age at embarkation41
Height5' 8"
Weight144 lbs
Next of kinWife, Mrs E Dawson, 9 Erin Street, Richmond, Victoria
Previous military serviceNil
Enlistment date28 October 1915
Date of enlistment from Nominal Roll27 October 1915
Place of enlistmentCasula, New South Wales
Rank on enlistmentPrivate
Unit name18th Battalion, 7th Reinforcement
AWM Embarkation Roll number23/35/2
Embarkation detailsUnit embarked from Sydney, New South Wales, on board HMAT A29 Suevic on 20 December 1915
Rank from Nominal RollPrivate
Unit from Nominal Roll60th Battalion
Other details from Roll of Honour Circular'Mr Dawson was popularly known on the Australian Stage as 'Tom Dawson', where he was a great favourite. His clever dancing and catchy songs always received much applause. Off the stage Dawson was a great sort of chap and enjoyed much popularity wherever he went.' (details from Wife)
FateKilled in Action 19 July 1916
Place of death or woundingFleurbaix, France
Age at death41
Age at death from cemetery records41
Place of burialNo known grave
Commemoration detailsV.C. Corner (Panel No 20), Australian Cemetery Memorial, Fromelles, France
Panel number, Roll of Honour,
  Australian War Memorial
Miscellaneous information from
  cemetery records
Parents: Frank and Charlotte Besley, husband of Emma DAWSON. Native of Newport, Mon., Wales
Other details

War service: Egypt, Western Front

Admitted to 1st Australian General Hospital, Heliopolis, 13 February 1916 (acute gastritis); discharged to Base Details, 22 February 1916; taken on strength, 60th Bn, Tel el Kebir, 15 March 1916.

Admitted to 2nd Australian Casualty Clearing Station, Ferry Post, 15 March 1916 (dental cavities); discharged to duty, 25 April 1916; rejoined Bn, 26 April 1916.

Embarked Alexandria to join the British Expeditionary Force, 18 June 1916; disembarked Marseilles, France, 29 June 1916.

Admitted to 15th Australian Field Ambulance, 3 July 1916 (sprained ankle); discharged to unit, 4 July 1916.

Reported Missing, 19 July 1916.

Court of Enquiry, held in the field, 4 August 1917, pronounced fate as 'Killed in Action, 19 July 1916'.

Statement, Red Cross File No 900404 , 3185 Pte E. MILLIKEN, 60th Bn (patient, 1st Australian Auxiliary Hospital, Harefield, England). 12 October 1916: 'Killed at Fleurbaix on 19th July just as he got over the parapet[;] my brother [?] Milliken A. Co, 6th Pioneers - wrote & told me this Tom Dawson - just before he jumped out of the trenches said, "I'd rather have a hard Boiled Egg"[.] Dawson was a Comic Singer and on the Stage & his expression was part of a song he composed & sang.'

Second statement, undated, 2560 Pte J.A. BIGGS, 60th Bn (patient, St John's Hospital, Cheltenham, England): 'Dawson is dead. He was seen by Lieut. of his Company lying on the ground in No Man's Land and was left there with many others as we failed to capture the German trenches ... Tom Dawson was a Comedian and well known in the Battalion.'

Third statement, 2344 Pte T.R.T. BRAIN, 59th Bn (patient, No 35 General Hospital, Calais), 18 October 1916: 'I knew his number. I saw him lying dead in "No Man's Land" when I was crawling back. I got close to him. Saw his face and felt his him; he was still warm. It was at Fleurbaix south of Armentieres.' Interviewer note: 'A doubtful report.'

Fourth statement, 4658 Pte A.C. McINDOE, 60th Bn (patient, 1st Australian Auxiliary Hospital, Harefield, England), 18 October 1916: 'At fleurbaix about 250 yards out in no Man's Land he was killed by shrapnel, he was fairly close to me at the time I saw him fall and [2717 Pte H.J.M.] Manson, B. Company, told me [he] was badly hit and dead.'

Fifth statement, 1652 Pte A. POOLMAN, 60th Bn (patient, 1st Australian Auxiliary Hospital, Harefield, England), 19 October 1916: 'He was in the same Company as I was, and as I was being brought in wounded I saw him lying dead, killed by a bullet, in No Man's Land 19-7-16. He was a Comedian and a big favourite amongst us all, always getting up concerts to entertain the men. No doubt he was buried with the others on the spot as was usual.'

Sixth statement, 4866 Pte J.F. O'MALLEY, 60th Bn, 11 December 1916: 'I knew Dawson: he was fatally wounded on 19th. July. He was shot right through the stomach. They got him in and he died in a dug-out that night.'

Seventh statement, 5545 Pte S.H.D. McNEIL, 60th Bn (patient, 3rd Australian Auxiliary Hospital, Dartford, England), 7 December 1916: 'Witness states that about 4 o'clock on afternoon of 19th July 1916 he saw Dawson lying over the parapet dead. He was blown about badly.'

Eighth statement, 3970 Pte A. WRIGHT, 60th Bn (patient, St John's Hospital, Etaples), 12 December 1916: 'Lt. Hamilton told me he went over with him, and he was very badly wounded by shrapnel on Nomansland (sic). He was laid down and all that was possible, was done for him. I have no doubt he died.'

Ninth statement, 267 Pte W.T. ELLIOTT, 60th Bn, 19 December 1916: 'I knew Tommy Dawson quite well. He was in C. Coy. We started from Fromelles that morning to take the first line trenches. We had to retire to our original line on account of very heavy shelling. He was killed by a shell. The Battn. found his body so that I presume that he has been buried.'

Tenth statement, 3053 Pte S.R. FLEMING, 60th Bn (patient, No 2 Canadian General Hospital, Le Treport), 30 December 1916: 'He was a music hall comedian and was Capt Peircey's batman. He died from wounds caused by a machine gun bullet which entered the lower part of his body while going over. He lingered some time. His body was brought in next day and as buried at Fromelles.'

Note on file: 'No trace Germany[.] Cert. by Capt. Mills 10-10-19.'

Medals: British War Medal, Victory Medal
SourcesNAA: B2455, DAWSON Tom
Red Cross File No 900404

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