Indigenous Australian, Thomas PEHOW, 26th & 12th Infantry Battalions.
Thomas William PEHOW was born in Gayndah, Qld in 1890 to Joseph Pehow (1851-) and Lucy Gooey (1865-1897); he was employed as a labourer in the same area, when he volunteered to serve with the first AIF in May 1917, aged 25. Both parents deceased, he named his sister Alice Maud Pehow, as his next of kin.
Initially assigned to the 26th Infantry Battalion, Pehow embarked from Brisbane on the troopship Seang Bee in October 1915. By the time he arrived in Egypt allied troops had been evacuated from the Gallipoli Peninsula and were gathering strength again in camp.
Many units were reorganized before men were drafted to go either to France and the Western Front or to remain in Egypt. Pehow was transferred to 12th Infantry Battalion and embarked for France in April 1916. They landed in the port of Marseilles and after a 3 day journey by train arrived at St Omer, where Pehow was to start his active service, in earnest.
In July he was evacuated suffering from ‘shell shock’ after the battalion was heavily shelled during action south east of Pozieres, there were many casualties that same day. Pehow was able to return to his comrades several weeks later and was appointed to the position of batman for Lieutenant Vaughan, a young Gallipoli veteran, who was to later be awarded the Military Cross.
The 12th Battalion was engaged in operations east of Proyart, in the last Allied offensive of 1918. On 23 August they came under heavy artillery and machine gun fire. Pehow was shot in the left knee and evacuated for treatment to Rouen, before being sent back to rejoin the battalion a week later.
On 18 September 1918 the 12th conducted operations east of Jeancourt, forming up in an old trench system on a dark and rainy night. As light dawned the smoke of the barrage and foggy conditions hindered the troops advance and concealed enemy machine guns in the nearby wood. Although the troops managed to advance to their agreed target, capturing prisoners and artillery, their casualties were high, over 130 men were killed, and more than 60 reported missing.
This day, when Lieutenant Vaughan was awarded the Military Cross was also the day that Private Thomas William Pehow was killed in action.
His sister Alice Pehow, married Edward Barrow Keogh, who also served. Alice was notified as his next-of and only kin, she received his effects and later his medals of service.
A year to the day after his death, Alice published a heartfelt message
“Oftimes I long to see his face, And clasp his loving hand; But God has called him to his place, Away from this earthly land. Inserted by his only sister, Alice.”
Private Pehow is buried with many of his 12th Battalion comrades who fell on that day, at the Jeancourt Communal Cemetery Extension, Aisne, France.
Read more …
- SERVICE RECORD: PEHOW, Thomas William
- SERVICE RECORD: VAUGHAN, George
- SERVICE RECORD: KEOGH, Edward Barrow
- EMBARKATION ROLL: 6th Reinf. 26th Infantry Battalion
- ROLL OF HONOUR: Thomas William Pehow
- Commonwealth War Graves Commission: Cemetery details
- War graves photographic project
- AWM Unit Diaries: 12th Infantry Battalion
- Family Notices The Telegraph 18 September 1919, p. 6
- Image: The Queenslander Pictorial, 15 January 1916
[Note image incorrectly described ‘Pehaw’]
- One of the soldiers featured in SLQ’s HistoryPin Collection
- View the whole Collection: Indigenous enlistment
- Queensland’s Indigenous Servicemen Digital Story and Oral History
Many thanks to Christine Cramer and Philippa Scarlett for their assistance with telling Thomas Pehow’s story of service.
Marg Powell & Des Crump | QANZAC100, State Library of Queensland