4428 Private Thomas Victor ANDREW
Thomas Victor ANDREW, born at Port Victor on 6 April 1892, was the eldest of four children to Thomas ANDREW and Elizabeth Jane ANDREW (nee Tonkin). The 23-year old farm labourer enlisted in the AIF at Adelaide on 15 September 1915 where he was assigned to the 14th Reinforcement group of the 10th Battalion (Adelaide Rifles). After their initial training the Reinforcements sailed from Adelaide on HMAT Miltiades on 7 February 1916, bound for Egypt. On arrival, a further three months training followed before he reached the AIF 1st Div Base Depot at Etaples, France, on 7 June 1916.
At Etaples, he underwent more training and hardening to prepare him for the frontline, prior to joining his Battalion. It was camped at Berteaucourt on 30 July 1916 for ten days to absorb reinforcements and prepare for its next turn in the frontline. Thomas had little time to get to know his fellow soldiers before the Battalion was ordered forward to be part of a coming attack on Mouquet Farm. It reached its sector on the night of 19 August, deploying three Companies in the frontline. Besides defending their trench, these men also had to dig saps each night towards the enemy, in readiness for the attack planned for 22 August. The saps were a narrow trench dug to approach enemy trenches and were generally about seven feet deep. Their digging was continually hampered by German artillery fire on their sector. The unit’s transport and its remaining Company were held back at Sausage Valley.
Thomas was wounded on 20 August 1916. Although his wound was reported as a GSW (gunshot wound) left forearm, it more likely would have been caused by shrapnel from an exploding artillery shell. Evacuated to the rear, his frontline service was over in two days.
The plan of attack, which Thomas’ group had worked towards, was modified due to enemy shelling. It began at 1800 hours (6 pm) on 22 August with the Battalion War Diary recording: “owing to heavy casualties went forward in 2 waves instead of 4”. Then further on: “Before launching the attack the Batt sustained over 120 casualties from shell fire and immediately the attack was launched casualties were heavy and rapid. Only one officer reached the final objective and was wounded there at once – the remaining 7 were killed or wounded within a few minutes of the launch of the attack.” Despite heavy rifle, machine gun and shellfire, the daylight attack passed through three enemy trenches to reach its objective by 1830 hours (6:30 pm).
As the attack was developing, Thomas was being moved further to the rear, reaching 1st General Hospital at Etaples on 23 August, before being transported to Britain by hospital ship from Calais. He was finally admitted to Chatham Military Hospital on 30 August 1916. However, it was not until 30 September that Army Office, Melbourne, was able to advise his mother he had been admitted to hospital in England on 30 August “suffering from gunshot wound arm (mild)”.
Once his wound healed, he was transferred to 1st Auxiliary Hospital on 25 October before arriving at No. 2 Australian Convalescent Depot, Weymouth, on 4 November. Apart from receiving 14 days furlough, he remained at Weymouth until sailing for Australia on HMAT Benalla, from Devonport, on 13 February 1917.
Medically classified unfit for further service in the field, he was sent home for “4 months change”, but as his arm did not recover sufficiently, he was discharged from the AIF as medically unfit on 5 July 1917.
Thomas was granted a War pension of 45 shillings a fortnight in September 1917, which, in line with Government policy, was reduced to 30 shillings per fortnight six months later.
Awarded the British War Medal and Victory Medal, he later married Ivy Maud DIXON at Clare in March 1921 and there were five children of the marriage. Thomas Victor ANDREW died on 23 August 1968, age 76. He is buried in the Port Lincoln RSL Cemetery.
Service record of 4428 Thomas Victor ANDREW held by the National Archives of Australia ( www.naa.gov.au ).
Australian War Memorial ( www.awm.gov.au ).
A.G. BUTLER, Official History of the Australian Army Medical Services 1914 -1918, Vol II, Australian War Memorial, Canberra 1940.
Compiled by the Victor Harbor RSL History Research Team, February 2010.