The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (76) Lance Corporal Thomas Wilson, 3rd Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Places
Accession Number AWM2017.1.251
Collection type Film
Object type Last Post film
Physical description 16:9
Maker Australian War Memorial
Place made Australia: Australian Capital Territory, Canberra, Campbell
Date made 08 September 2017
Access Open
Conflict First World War, 1914-1918
Copyright Item copyright: © Australian War Memorial
Creative Commons License This item is licensed under CC BY-NC
Copying Provisions Copy provided for personal non-commercial use
Description

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 Chris Widenbar, the story for this day was on (76) Lance Corporal Thomas Wilson, 3rd Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Speech transcript

76 Lance Corporal Thomas Wilson, 3rd Battalion
KIA 25 April 1915

Story delivered 8 September 2017

Today we remember and pay tribute to Private Thomas Clark Wilson.

Thomas Wilson was born in 1891, one of several children of Thomas and Janine Wilson of Christchurch, New Zealand. Thomas spent his formative years at school at Mount Cook before the Wilson family moved to Wellington on the north island. For a year and a half, Thomas paraded part-time with the New Zealand Artillery as a member of D Battery before immigrating to Australia around 1911. On the eve of the First World War, Thomas was working as a salesman at the Murdoch’s Men’s and Boy’s Outfitters in Park Street, Sydney.

Thomas was among the first volunteers to enlist in the Australian Imperial Force following Britain’s declaration of war against Germany in August 1914. He signed on at Randwick Racecourse less than a week after the AIF was formed, embarking two months later as an original member of the 3rd Battalion. After a brief stop in Albany in Western Australia, the 3rd Battalion sailed for the fighting in Europe with the first troopship convoy, but were soon diverted to Egypt following Ottoman Turkey’s entry into the war. Promoted to lance corporal, Thomas spent the following months training at Mena Camp near Cairo where the Australian and New Zealanders were based to protect British interests in the area.

The AIF’s first real test in battle came several months later, when 1st Division landed on the Gallipoli peninsula as part of a wider British plan to force a passage through the Dardanelles and knock Ottoman Turkey out of the war. Thomas landed at Anzac Cove with the 3rd Battalion on the morning of 25 April 1915, coming ashore as part of the second wave attack around 8.30 that morning. As a member of the 3rd Battalion’s machine-gun section, Thomas was rushed inland to support gains made by the 3rd Brigade, who were digging in on second ridge under mounting Turkish opposition and heavy casualties. The fighting by this stage was both chaotic and confused, with isolated rifle companies getting lost in the steep gullies and ravines that characterised the battlefield.

Turkish artillery opened up on the Australians with shrapnel as Thomas and the 3rd Battalion machine-gun section made their way up the position that would later became known as Walker’s Ridge. According to men who were with him at the time, Thomas was fatally wounded in the head with a piece of shrapnel sometime around noon as their section was engaged by Turkish troops. They gave him first aid and placed him under cover from Turkish rifle fire, but nobody could account for what happened to him afterwards.

Despite a claim that he had been carried down the beach and evacuated to Egypt, his whereabouts remained unknown. Thomas was subsequently listed as missing in action until June 1916, when a court of inquiry determined he had been killed in action at the landing on 25 April 1915.

Aged 24 at the time of his death, Thomas’s remains were never recovered, and today he is among 4,900 Australian and New Zealand soldiers killed on Gallipoli who are commemorated on the Lone Pine Memorial. We do not know how his death affected the Wilson family in New Zealand, however his father wrote that Thomas was “very keen on soldiering and would have done well had he been more fortunate”.

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 Lance Corporal Thomas Wilson, who gave his life for us, for our freedoms, and in the hope of a better world.

Aaron Pegram
Historian, Military History Section

  • Video of The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (76) Lance Corporal Thomas Wilson, 3rd Battalion, AIF, First World War. (video)