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 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. 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 Church. 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.
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 Contalmaison-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, his parents 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.