From the Western Mail, 5/7/1918 p. 26.
Private Thomas Kelly Dwyer +
St Patrick’s Catholic School Roll of Honour
Born: 1890 - Pakenham, Victoria
Enlisted: 20 November 1916 aged 26
Unit: 11th Battalion, 24th Reinforcement (SERN: 7243)
Served: Western Front
Killed in action: 12 March 1918 - near Ypres, Belgium
Known to family and friends as “Tom”, Thomas was the son of John and Mary Dwyer. On his mother’s side, Tom was the grandson of Michael Kelly of “Glana”, Pakenham, who settled in the district in the 1850s (1) while his paternal grandfather Jeremiah Dwyer was also a local landholder. For a period of time, Tom’s parents had a store, (probably at Old Pakenham where they had land themselves) though this ran into financial difficulties in the mid 1880s (2) after which John did contracting work (3). Tom attended St Patrick’s Catholic School until the age of nine when the family moved to Western Australia, where his father had obtained work. Tom then finished his education at the Christian Brothers‘ College in Fremantle (4). At the age of twenty, he returned to Victoria, then worked in Queensland and Sydney, where he was a tram conductor. After returning to Western Australia in 1915, Tom worked as a hospital attendant at the Claremont Insane Asylum, where his father had worked for many years (5). The family named its home in Stirling Rd Claremont “Glana” after Mary Dwyer’s family home back in Pakenham (5a).
Tom enlisted in the AIF in November 1916. He arrived in England in March 1917, and after receiving training, proceeded to the Western Front. There, he served as a signaller with B Company, 11th Infantry Battalion (6). On 12 March 1918, Tom was killed outright when a German shell burst in B Company’s headquarters pillbox near Ypres Belgium (7). After news of his death reached Australia, the W.A. Record newspaper in Perth described him as a “fine young Irish-Australian” (8). Amongst Tom’s possessions returned to his parents were his identity discs, a metal chain and religious medallions. Tom was initially buried at “Spoil Bank” near where he died, but was later reburied in the Oxford Road Military Cemetery to the north-west of Ypres (9).
(1) South Bourke & Mornington Journal 9/7/1914, p. 4
(2) Berwick Shire Rates Book 9/10/1886 p. 29 & Argus 23/2/1885 p. 5
(3) Berwick Shire Rates Book 6/9/1890 p. 32
(4) & (5) AWM 131 - Roll of Honour Circular - No 7243 Dwyer Thomas Kelly & The West Australian, 11/2/1924, p. 11
(5a) Daily News 13/2/1924 p. 3
(6) & (9) NAA B2455 - DWYER, T K
(7) AWM ARCSW&MEB File, 7243 Private Thomas Kelly Dwyer
(8) The W.A. Record 13/4/1918, p. 7