THOMAS, Edward Courtney

NAME:  Edward Courtney THOMAS

SERVICE NO:  3282

YEAR OF BIRTH:  1893

PLACE OF BIRTH:  Mildura

DATE OF ENLISTMENT: 15 March 1915

PLACE OF ENLISTMENT:  Melbourne

AGE AT ENLISTMENT:  22

UNIT: 6th Australian Field Ambulance

FATE:  Killed – 11 November 1916 – Flers, France

EDWARD THOMAS Punch (Melbourne, Vic. : 1900 – 1918; 1925) 13 May 1915: 16. Web. 13 Sep 2017 .

Edward Thomas was born in Mildura in 1893, a son of the Reverend John Thomas and Rubena Clara Rose.  Edward’s father was the minister of the Mildura Methodist Church.  In May 1901, Reverend Thomas was transferred to the Hamilton Wesleyan Church in McIntyre Street. The family lived in the adjoining parsonage.  Three years later Reverend Thomas was transferred to Ballarat and the family moved on.  Edward was eleven at the time.  A few years later Edward’s uncle William Courtenay Thomas also became the  Methodist minister at Hamilton.

From Ballarat, the family moved to Melbourne living in the parsonage of the Auburn Methodist Chuch. Edward studied at Wesley College in Melbourne.  He wanted to follow his father and uncle into the Methodist ministry so he studied theology at Melbourne University receiving an Arts Degree before turning his attention to attaining a Master’s Degree.

Edward enlisted in March 1915 and was soon off to Egypt.  With the 6th Field Ambulance, he arrived at Anzac Cove, Gallipoli on 5 September 1915.

A 6th FIELD AMBULANCE HOSPITAL TENT AT GALLIPOLI 1915. Image courtesy of the Australian War Memorial https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/C01479/

They returned to Alexandria on 7 January 1916 and on 25 March, the 6th Field Ambulance arrived at Marseilles. By November 1916, they were at the Somme and Edward had risen to the rank of Lance Corporal.  Australian troops were gathering south of Flers for an attack on 5 November. The 6th Field Ambulance set about establishing a collection point on the Contalmasion-Longueval Road, near Longueval.  At 5.00am on the morning of 11 November 1916, a shell hit their camp, killing Edward.

Just two weeks after learning of Edward’s death, the Thomas’ heard news their son Lieutenant Hubert Thomas, also of the 6th Field Ambulance, would receive a Military Medal. In 1917, Hubert added a bar to his Military Medal.  Reverend Thomas continued to return to Hamilton often conducting a sermon on his visit.  His brother William left Hamilton in early 1917.

A tree was planted for Edward along Hamilton’s Anzac Avenue.  He is also named on Mildura’s Roll of Honour. Edward qualified for his Master of Arts from Melbourne University before his enlistment and that was awarded posthumously.

ONLINE RESOURCES

Australian War Memorial – 6th Field Ambulance Unit Diary

Australian War Memorial – Roll of Honour – Edward Courtney Thomas

Commonwealth War Graves Commission – Thistle Dump Cemetery, High Wood, Longueval, France – Edward Courtney Thomas 

Discovering Anzacs – WW1 Service Record – Edward Courtney Thomas

Newspaper Articles from Trove – Edward Courtney Thomas

The AIF Project – Edward Courtney Thomas