|Object type||Last Post film|
Australian War Memorial
|Place made||Australia: Australian Capital Territory, Canberra, Campbell|
|Date made||5 April 2018|
First World War, 1914-1918
Item copyright: © Australian War Memorial
This item is licensed under CC BY-NC
|Copying Provisions||Copy provided for personal non-commercial use|
The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (2330) Private Thomas James Anderson, 49th Battalion, AIF, First World War.
The Last Post Ceremony is presented in the Commemorative area of the Australian War Memorial each day. The ceremony commemorates more than 102,000 Australians who have given their lives in war and other operations and whose names are recorded on the Roll of Honour. At each ceremony the story behind one of the names on the Roll of Honour is told. Hosted by Gerard Pratt, the story for this day was on (2330) Private Thomas James Anderson, 49th Battalion, AIF, First World War.
2330 Private Thomas James Anderson, 49th Battalion, AIF
KIA 5 April 1918
Story delivered 5 April 2018
Today we remember and pay tribute to Private Thomas James Anderson.
Affectionately known as “Tom”, Thomas Anderson was born into the large family of Sarah and John Anderson in Ipswitch, Queensland, in 1889.
After attending East Brisbane State School, he began working as a butcher.
Anderson enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force in May 1915. After a few months of initial training, he left Australia aboard the troopship Shropshire with reinforcements for the 9th Battalion.
The 9th Battalion was among the first infantry units raised during the First World War. After being recruited in Queensland, the men of the battalion were some of the first ashore during the Anzac landing on 25 April.
After travelling from Australia and reaching the training camps in Egypt, by the time that Thomas Anderson reached the Gallipoli peninsula, it was November. After a short period defending the beachhead, Anderson and the remaining troops on Gallipoli were evacuated in December.
Back in Egypt, the AIF went through a period of expansion and reorganisation, preparing for the rigours of fighting on the Western Front. The 9th Battalion was split, and Anderson was transferred to join the newly established 49th Battalion.
Arriving in France in June 1916, the 49th Battalion moved into the trenches on the Western Front. It fought in its first major battle at Mouquet Farm in August and suffered heavily. As positions became vacant due to casualties, Anderson was appointed lance corporal.
The battalion saw out the rest of the year alternating between front-line duty, and training and labouring behind the line.
Towards the end of November, Lance Corporal Anderson was manning the front-line trenches at Flers when he was wounded, receiving a gunshot wound to the thigh. He was evacuated to England, where he was admitted to hospital for treatment and recovery.
After a period of furlough, Anderson spent time convalescing at the command depot at Wareham. The free time, however, provided him with ample opportunities for mischief, and in early February he was found absent without leave for the first – and certainly not the last – time. In June he was again absent without leave, this time as apprehended by military police and punished by reverting to the rank of private.
September saw Private Anderson with the 13th Training Battalion, on command of cookery school at Tidworth, and in November he was again absent without leave.
The pattern of absenteeism came to an end in early February 1918 when Anderson left the comforts and temptations of England to rejoin the 49th Battalion. The German Spring Offensive began in March, with 74 divisions attacking near the junction between the French and British armies. The 4th Division was moved in to defend positions around Dernancourt, and on 5 April the 49th Battalion assisted in repulsing a large German attack before launching a counter-attack late in the afternoon.
Private Anderson was with his Lewis gun team during the advance. At about 5:30pm, he was in the process of moving his gun to a stronger position when he was killed instantaneously by machine-gun fire.
As the fighting continued, Australian soldiers had to fall back from where Anderson had fallen, but his body was recovered later that night and was buried nearby.
His remains were later recovered and buried in Dernancourt Communal Cemetery, where they lie today under the epitaph chosen by his grieving family: “He gave his best, his life, his all.”
Thomas Anderson was 29 years old.
His name is listed on the Roll of Honour on my right, among more than 60,000 Australians who died while serving in the First World War.
This is but one of the many stories of service and sacrifice told here at the Australian War Memorial. We now remember Private Thomas James Anderson, who gave his life for us, for our freedoms, and in the hope of a better world.
Duncan Beard, Editor
Military History Section
Video of The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (2330) Private Thomas James Anderson, 49th Battalion, AIF, First World War. (video)