Dry, Thomas Charles (Private, b.1888 - d.1917)

Accession Number AWM2017.734.1
Collection type Private Record
Record type Collection
Measurement Extent: 1.5 cm; Wallet/s: 1
Object type Letter
Maker Dry, Thomas Charles
Place made Egypt, France
Date made 1915-1916
Access Open
Conflict First World War, 1914-1918

Item copyright: Copyright expired - public domain

Public Domain Mark This item is in the Public Domain

Copying Provisions Copying permitted subject to physical condition

Collection relating to the First World War service of 944 Private Thomas Charles Dry, 23rd Battalion AIF, Gallipoli and France, 1915-1916.

The collection consists of an original seven page typed and uncensored letter written by Private Dry to his family. The letter was sent from Egypt in January 1916 with a friend returning to Australia thereby avoiding censorship. Titled 'The True Facts of Gallipoli; Lonesome Pine', Private Dry records his arrival on the peninsular on 4th September 1915, as well as a vivid account of the torpedoing of the troopship 'Southland'.

HMT Southland was a transport ship conveying men of 2nd Division AIF from Egypt to Gallipoli when it was torpedoed by a German submarine 30 miles from Lemnos in the Aegean Sea. The ship did not sink and all but 40 of 1400 men took to lifeboats and were picked up by other transports. The surviving men and ship's crew managed to get to the ships later the same day, 2 September 1915.

Private Dry's letter describes the trenches on Gallipoli; his duties, the conditions, the terrific noise of the shells, sapping, explosions, rationing and the cold. He emphasises that it is only fate and good fortune that kept him alive, and he describes several 'near misses' on Gallipoli.
Private Dry is taken off the peninsular with tonsilitis a week before the evacutaion and recuperates in Egypt.

Additionally in the collection, there are two handwritten letters from Private Dry to his friend and business associate William Windridge. These letters are dated 4 May 1916 and 4 June 1916 and are written from France. William Windridge was Dry's friend, business associate and fellow watchmaker. When war broke out the two men tossed a coin to see who would go to war and do their duty and who would stay and run the business in Melbourne.

Thomas Charles Dry enlisted in the AIF on 6 March 1915 aged 26. A watchmaker by trade, Dry arrived in Egypt in and served three and a half months on Gallipoli. Leaving Egypt in March 1916, Dry arrived in France with the 23rd Battalion. On 4th August 1916 in fighting around Pozieres, Dry was reported missing.
His death was not confirmed until January 1918. In 1926 his remains were discovered and identified by the Imperial War Graves Commission and he was interred at Serre Road Cemetery, some 12 kilometres from where he likely fell at Pozieres. His mother requested the inscription for his headstone 'He laid his richest gift on the altar of duty - his life.' [The actual inscription reads 'Dearly Loved Only Son of Mr & Mrs T Dray of Melbourne'.]