Private Thomas William Fauntleroy Wilson +

Pakenham & District War Memorial & Pakenham Upper Roll of Honour

Born: 1894 -  near Warrnambool, Victoria

Enlisted: 8 June 1917, aged 23

Unit: 6th Battalion, 25th Reinforcement (SERN: 7584)

Served: Western Front

Killed in action: 23 August 1918 near Herleville, France

Known as ‘Tom” (1) Thomas was an older brother of Robert Wilson. He was a 23 year old engine driver (probably in the local saw mills) when he enlisted for service on 25 July 1917. He had tried to enlist earlier, but had previously been rejected as medically unfit. This time, Tom was assigned to the 6th Battalion, 25th Reinforcement. He embarked for the UK on 4 August 1917, three years to the day after Britain had first declared war on Germany. Tom arrived in Glasgow in October, and was taken on strength with the 6th Battalion in France on 2 February 1918. The 6th Battalion was soon in the thick of stopping the German “Spring Offensive”, which sought to deliver a “knock out blow” to the Allies on the Western Front. Later, the 6th Battalion was part of the Allied offensive which successfully pushed the Germans back to the “Hindenburg Line”, and ultimately broke the enemy’s resolve to fight on. It was during this offensive, at St Martin’s Wood near Herleville, that Thomas was killed in action on 23 August 1918 (2). Unfortunately, his body was never recovered and lies somewhere on the battlefield in an unmarked grave. News of Tom’s death was reported back home in late September 1918: “Private T. Wilson of West Gembrook has been killed in action, and another brother severely wounded. Great sympathy is felt for Mr and Mrs Wilson” (3). It must have been devastating to the family to receive this news. 

In May 1919, Tom’s mother finally received his personal effects: some photographs, cards and a YMCA wallet (5). Later, his family also received an official memorial plaque and scroll in honour of Tom. His family and friends cherished Tom’s memory dearly: one in-memoriam notice placed by a friend in The Age newspaper on the third anniversary of his death proclaimed: “You are not forgotten, Tom” (5). 

Sources:

(1) (2) & (5) The Age 23/8/1921 p.1

(3) DA 26/9/1918 p. 2

(4) PG 25/10/1918 p. 2

(5) NAA B2455 WILSON T W F 

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