SERVICE NO: 4128
YEAR OF BIRTH: 1883
PLACE OF BIRTH: Sandford
DATE OF ENLISTMENT: 13 December 1915
PLACE OF ENLISTMENT: Fitzroy
AGE AT ENLISTMENT: 32
UNIT: 24th Battalion, 10th Reinforcement
EMBARKED: 7 March 1916
TROOPSHIP: HMAT A18 Wiltshire
FATE: Died as a result of an accident – 1 June 1917 – Warloy-Baillon, France
Thomas Joyce was a son of John Mark Joyce and Rosanna Brown and was born at Sandford in 1883. The family were living at Branxholme and the remainder of the children were born there from 1884. Around 1908, Thomas worked as a blacksmith for G. Henderson, a Branxholme farmer. In 1909, Thomas’ mother Rosanna died of cancer at the age of fifty. Ten days later, his maternal grandmother also died.
In July 1915, Thomas’ younger brother Matthew enlisted and left Australia in September with the 14th Battalion. Three months later, Thomas enlisted at Fitzroy on 13 December 1915 and entered camp at Royal Park with the 24th Battalion. At the time of his enlistment, Thomas gave his next of kin as a friend Mrs Nellie Thomas of Fitzroy. The 10th Reinforcements of the 24th Battalion departed Australia on 7 March 1916. In August 1916, Thomas reached his battalion at Sausage Valley, Pozieres.
During October 1916, Thomas was hospitalised with illness and sent to England. He returned on 16 January 1917 while the battalion was at Ribemont, France. By March, he had trench feet and had a short hospital stay. The following month, Thomas’ brother Matthew was killed at Bullecourt on 11 April. Later in the month, then with B Company, Thomas was promoted to Lance Corporal.
On 3 May 1917, Thomas received a gunshot wound to his right arm while at Favreuil, France. He was able to return to the battalion on 29 May while they were at Warloy-Baillon. Two days later, between 11:00 am and noon while the battalion was training, a Stokes mortar shell was loaded into the barrel in preparation to fire. Thomas was standing in front of the barrel when the shell accidentally exploded and hit him in the chest. Three others men were killed and fourteen wounded. Thomas was buried in the nearby Warloy-Baillon Communal Cemetery Extension.