Indigenous Australian, Thomas WALKER, 25th Infantry Battalion
Tom Walker was born in Sydney in 1890 to Sarah Robinson and Thomas Walker. When he volunteered to serve with the first AIF in September 1916 he was the first of three brothers to step forward to serve for their country.
Like many men who enlisted from the Northern Rivers Region, he was sent to Brisbane, where he trained at Rifle Range Camp, Enoggera. Walker left Australia with the 18th Reinforcements for the 25th Infantry Battalion, aboard HMAT Demosthenes just before Christmas 1916 and arrived in England early March 1917.
The men were given additional training and time to acclimatize to the northern winter at Rollestone Camp, Wiltshire before proceeding overseas to France in June 1917. After a short stay in the Australian Divisional Base Depot he joined the 25th Battalion while they were in reserve, in a tented camp at Bapaume.
Walker was with the battalion when later that month it was involved in the Third Battle of Ypres, and in September 1917 when they carried out a major offensive in the Battle of Menin Road, Belgium. His brother Edward joined the unit in January 1918, although he was not assigned to the same Company as Tom.
Tom Walker was appointed to the rank of Driver in July 1918 about the same time that his brother Edward was wounded in action and evacuated to England for treatment. Tom Walker continued to served with the 25th until August 1918, when he became a casualty of an enemy bombing raid near Bayonvillers.
Edward Walker asked the Red Cross Wounded and Missing Bureau to make enquiries about his brother after he had heard that he had been killed.
Private Ernest Avard from the same unit was able to reveal that he and Tom Walker were encamped in the same trench when a German aircraft flying very low, dropped a bomb directly on their trench killing Walker outright and burying Avard. Avard was luckily recovered, and Tom Walker was buried the next day. Lieutenant Batten had placed a cross on his grave.
Tom Walker left behind his wife Lily and two children Edward and Jean. Lily was living with family on Ulgundahi Island, on the Clarence River when she was notified of her husband’s death.
Read more …
- SERVICE RECORD: Walker, Thomas
- EMBARKATION ROLL: 18th Reinf. 25th Infantry Battalion
- Roll of Honour
- Roll of honour circular
- Red Cross Wounded and Missing Bureau files
- Image: The Queenslander Pictorial, 10 May 1917
- ‘The Fallen Brave’. Daily Examiner 30 August 1918, p. 2.
- Commonwealth War Graves Commission
- 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
Marg Powell & Des Crump | QANZAC100, State Library of Queensland