|1. Memorial:||Embarkation Pier Cemetery||B. 323.|
|2. Book:||The (1921) Masonic Roll of Honour 1914-1918||Pg.136|
|3. Memorial:||The (1940) Scroll - WW1 Roll of Honour||18C GQS|
Awards & Titles:
|Volunteer Officers' Decoration |
Queen's South Africa Medal & 4 clasps
Early Life :Son of H. Thomas, of Devon, England; husband of Mildred Thomas, of Timaru, New Zealand. Born Bangalore, India. Married; Doctor, of Sophia Street, Timaru, New Zealand. Next of kin: Wife; Mildred Julia Thomas (nee Rhodes), of same address. Killed in action at Hill 60, northern Anzac, on 28 August 1915, aged 50. Grave: Embarkation Pier cemetery.
- The Second Anglo-Boer War 1899-1902, South Africa.
- The First World War 1914-1918, World-wide.
|Unit / Ship / Est.: New Zealand Medical Corps|
Mike: BEAN FieldAntbulance, 357, 358, 376
|Action : Gallipoli|
The Gallipoli Campaign was fought on the Gallipoli peninsula 25th April 1915 to 9th January 1916. in a failed attempt to defeat Turkey by seizing the Dardanelles and capturing Istanbul. Ill-conceived and planned, the initial effort by the Royal Navy failed to force passage through the Dardanelles by sea power alone. It was then realised that a land force was needed to support the project by suppressing the Turkish mobile artillery batteries. By the time all was ready the Turks were well aware and well prepared. Despite amazing heroics on the day of the landings only minor beachheads were achieved and over the succeeding 8 months little progress was made. Eventually the beachheads were evacuated in a series of successful ruses.
Despite Gallipoli rightly becoming a national source of pride to Australians and New Zealanders, far more British casualties were sustained, and these days the substantial French contribution is almost forgotten.
Lieutenant Colonel Charles Thomas, known locally as The Little Doctor, was a doctor at Timaru who left his wife Mildred and 11-year-old son to serve as the commander of the New Zealand Mounted Field Ambulance, NZ Medical Corps. Nearing 50, Thomas had previously served in the New Zealand Volunteer Forces and in the South African (Boer) War as a surgeon in the fifth contingent, so was perhaps more prepared than many for what might lie ahead.
Thomas was however killed in a disastrous attack on Hill 60 in late August, 1915, at Gallipoli. Instead of remaining in the relative safety of a dressing station, he had gone with stretcher bearer parties to help the wounded men in the front trenches. While sheltering in a trench a shell exploded above him, killing him outright. So the life of a well-respected officer, father, and medical man was cut short.
A collection of letters from Thomas to his wife and 11-year old son are part of a collection held by the South Canterbury Museum, which offer considerable insight into his experience. As well as more banal comments about the food, he also wrote about the campaign. On 1 March her wrote "It seems to be an endless, hopeless mess we are in now." He commented on the difficulties of their situation "The safest place on land is in the fire trenches. Some are still killed and wounded before even they put a foot on shore … There is a great deal of sickness on account of the damp dugouts and the flies, which are even worse than here on account of the unburied and partially buried." (24 July) and that he had "...30 men employed all day and every day digging graves for New Zealanders."
The collection also includes a letter from Sergeant Bill Tait (of Timaru) on the death of Lieutenant-Colonel Charles Thomas:
"The death of Lieut.-Col. Thomas will, no doubt, have come as a great shock to Timaru. I can assure you that it gave me a great shock. I was sitting talking to him in the trenches when he was killed. We were up in the New Zealand Mounted trenches while they were attacking three Turkish trenches, and the shells were falling thick and fast all around us, till at last one burst above us. Col. Thomas was killed outright, and died without speaking. I was badly hit, and rolled over towards him, while three or four stretcher-bearers were also more or less badly hit. I thought I was finished, and could do nothing for the Colonel, but after some time they managed to plug me and get me away. The trip back to the dressing station was almost as lively as in the trenches, as shells and stray bullets were dropping all round us. We had some narrow escapes, but managed to get back safety. Our little company was broken-hearted on hearing of the death of our dear Colonel. I could talk for months about him, but you know what he was, and what he has done for me, and for our company. I am proud to have been with him when he died. He was absolutely fearless, and would go anywhere in the face of danger."
Lieutenant Colonel Charles Ernest THOMAS (Volunteer's Decoration. Queen's South Africa Medal & 4 Clasps), NZMC, NZEF.
|Type||Lodge Name and No.||Province/District :|
|Mother :||St. John No. 1137 E.C.||New Zealand (South Island)|
|Joined :||District Grand Stewards Lodge No. 2627 E.C.||New Zealand|
30th June 1890
30th July 1890
25th August 1890
Joined District Grand Stewards Lodge of Canterbury, No. 2627 on 19th July 1899 (Surgeon), but resigned 7th September 1905
The project globally acknowledges the following as sources of information for research across the whole database:
- The Commonwealth War Graves Commission
- The (UK) National Archives
- Ancestry.co.uk - Genealogy, Family Trees & Family History online
- ugle.org.uk - The records of the United Grand Lodge of England including the Library and Museum of Freemasonry
- Founder Researchers : Paul Masters & Mike McCarthy
- Researcher : Bruce Littley