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Page history last edited by Lenore Frost 8 years, 1 month ago

Volunteers of Essendon and Flemington, 1914-1918


Tom Wilson, circa 1916, courtesy of the North

Essendon Methodist Church.


Wilson T F     Pte    5931    Thomas Ferrier                21 Inf Bn    20    Clerk    Single    Meth       

Address:    Essendon, Richardson St, 10   

Next of Kin:    Wilson, Thomas, father, 10 Richardson St, Essendon   

Enlisted:    12 Apr 1916       

Embarked:     A71 Nestor 2 Oct 1916   

Prior service:  58 Inf Regt


Relatives on Active Service:

Wilson-G-P-Pte-1100 brother


Private Thomas Ferrier Wilson


by Lenore Frost


Tom Wilson enlisted on 16 April 1916 and went into camp on 18 August 1916.  Originally assigned to the 22 Infantry Battalion depot, he was soon afterwards, on 21 August, transferred to 21 Infantry Battalion with which unit he embarked on the Nestor on 2 October 1916.  He disembarked at Plymouth on 16 November 1916 and four days later was admitted to Fovant Hospital with mumps.


On 5 December he rejoined his unit of reinforcements, still in training at Lark Hill, and after enjoying Christmas in England, he embarked for France, via Etaples, on 16 February 1917.


When he joined his unit at LE SARS on 22 February 1917, it was in the process of relieving the 24 Inf Battalion in the line.  On that day the battalion suffered heavy artillery shelling by the enemy.  On  22 February they received news that the enemy had probably vacated the trenches on their front, and orders were given to attack at 1 pm - ie, in broad daylight. 


The Battalion was relieved by the 28 Inf Battalion on 26 February and moved back to Scott's Redoubt South.  Two days later the Battalion was rewarded with a Bathing Parade.    On 2 March the Battalion moved to the Sussex Camp for Training, and on the 4th they moved to the support line at Seven Elms, Flers, where they relieved the 24 Battalion.


On 5 March the unit diary reported bad visibility because of snow.  On the 7th the Battalion moved to LE BARQUE Switch where they relieved the 22 Inf Battalion in the support lines during the night.  On the 8th bad snow storms were reported, with intermittent shelling to increase the misery of the troops. 


On 10 March the 21 Infantry Battalion were relieved in the support lines by the 24 Battalion, and moved forward to relieve the 22nd Battalion in the front line.  They occupied themselves in the front line with digging out new lines and linking up posts.  The officers went on patrols to discover the location of the enemy, and vacated trenches were occupied and new posts established.


In this way the 21 Battalion periodically rotated through the front line.  The frequent movement  with digging and carrying materiel would have aided the men in keeping their circulation up, but the winter spent in the open would have been very miserable. 


On 18 March the Battalion moved forward to Bapaume.  On 20 March, the day that Tom was wounded, the unit diary reports the Battalion attempting to establish a new line to link up with the 23 Battalion.  The company was under heavy machine gun fire from ECOUST and LONGATTE.  The enemy artillery was also active against the line, with shelling all the afternoon. They were relieved by 26 Battalion.


In the previous weeks the casualties were comparatively light, with only occasional deaths and woundings, but on this day the unit diary recorded the death of one officer (Lieutenant E N Haggar) and 20 other ranks.  Four officers were wounded, and Tom was one of the 135 other ranks wounded that day.  Eleven were reported missing.


Tom was collected by the 5 Australian Field Ambulance and admitted to a Casualty Clearing Station on 21 March with a gunshot wound to the right leg.  By 22 March he had reached the 6 General Hospital at Rouen, and on 29 March he was taken on board the Hospital Ship Western Australia for return to England.


Tom then spent three months in a hospital in the 1st London General Hospital,  Camberwell, then moved to the 1st Auxiliary Hospital at Southall, an convalescent establishment.   


The Streatham Red Cross Hospital had been established in April 1916, a private home donated for use as a hospital for the duration of the war.  It was a convalescent home with 30 beds, later expanded to 33 beds.  The 25 men wearing the pale blue uniform of the invalids  in the above photo were probably the entire complement of convalescent men on that day.


Tom is in the second row from the

top, on the left hand end of the

row of soldiers.


No 2 Convalescent Depot at Weymouth on 3 July, and by 27 July he was on his way back to Australia on the Demosthenes for a "rest".  He disembarked in Melbourne on 23 September 1917.  He was discharged from the AIF on 18 January 1918. 


Isabel Wilson, nee Paton, the mother of Tom and brother George, on the front porch of

the family home at 10 Richardson St, Essendon, circa 1920.


Thomas Francis Wilson, the father of Tom and George, in the front garden of 10 Richardson St, Essendon, circa 1920.


Thomas and his brother George applied for Soldier Settlement blocks at Calignan in the Mallee, but were defeated by the drought.  PROV has digitised some Soldier Settlement records, but they haven't yet located Thomas' files.  He is mentioned in GEorge's file which has been digitised.



Thomas then worked as a clerk for several firms, including the Aeronautical Research Labs at Fisherman’s Bend, and returned to the 58 Infantry Battalion, Citizens Military Force, during WWII. 



Tom Wilson's membership card for the Kyneton RSL, 1985.



Tom married Gladys Mary James and settled in Macedon, where he commuted to work in Melbourne. Their only child was Julie Isabel Mary Wilson.



B2455 National Archives of Australia

21 Inf Battalion Unit War Diary, Australian War Memorial

Images courtesy of the Wilson family, unless otherwise specified.




Among the local boys recently returned to Australia is Private Tom Wilson, who is suffering from a bullet wound in the leg.


ROLL OF HONOUR. (1917, October 4). The Essendon Gazette and Keilor, Bulla and Broadmeadows Reporter (Moonee Ponds, Vic. : 1914 - 1918), p. 2 Edition: Morning. Retrieved May 24, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article74603922



War Service Commemorated

Essendon Town Hall R-Y

Essendon State School

North Essendon Methodist Church

Essendon Gazette Roll of Honour With the Colours

Welcome Home 7 Nov 1918

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