Benjamin Thomas (Ben) THORPE

THORPE, Benjamin Thomas

Service Number: 1184
Enlisted: 14 September 1914, Morphettville, South Australia
Last Rank: Private
Last Unit: 10th Infantry Battalion
Born: Tumby Bay, South Australia, 17 February 1890
Home Town: Elliston, South Australia
Schooling: Tumby Bay School
Occupation: Labourer
Died: Killed in Action, Dardanelles, Gallipoli, Gallipoli, Dardanelles, Turkey, 19 May 1915, aged 25 years
Cemetery: Shrapnel Valley Cemetery, Gallipoli
Shrapnel Valley Cemetery, Gallipoli Peninsula, Canakkale Province, Turkey
Memorials: Adelaide National War Memorial, Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, Elliston War Memorial, Tumby Bay RSL Portrait Memorials, Tumby Bay War Memorial
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World War 1 Service

14 Sep 1914: Enlisted AIF WW1, Morphettville, South Australia
27 Dec 1914: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, 1184, 10th Infantry Battalion, Enlistment/Embarkation WW1
27 Dec 1914: Embarked AIF WW1, Private, 1184, 10th Infantry Battalion, HMAT Themistocles, Melbourne
25 Apr 1915: Involvement AIF WW1, ANZAC / Gallipoli
19 May 1915: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, 1184, 10th Infantry Battalion, ANZAC / Gallipoli

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Biography contributed by Geoffrey Stewart

Ben was born on 17 Feb 1890 at Tumby Bay to Thomas John Thorpe and Rose Ann Thorpe (nee McFayden).  He was the second eldest of 6 children in the family, 2 boys and 4 girls.    His mother was the niece of William McFayden, the owner of the Lipson Hotel in 1901; and his father worked on his grandfather's farm in the Tumby area (Sect 81 Hundred of Hutchison) until the family moved to a block at Elliston. 

 He went to school at Tumby Bay, before taking employ in various areas on the "west coast" until his enlistment in the  Army at the age of 24 years and 6 months.  His occupation at this time was given as labourer. 

 Ben was one of the first to enlist from this district, enlisting on 14 Sep 1914 at Tumby Bay, only 1 month after the commencement of World War 1.  He went to Morphettville for processing and then undertook his basic training at 2nd Depot Battalion (Bn) before being posted to 1st Reinforcements/10th Bn. 

 The 10th Bn was one of the first Infantry units raised for the Australian Imperial Force and because of its long history in SA, as a militia unit, was known as the "Adelaide Rifles".  It was manned with recruits from South Australia and along with the 9th, 11th and 12th Bns, it formed the 3rd Division.

After completing his basic training Ben embarked aboard the HMAT "Thermistocles" from Melbourne on 27 Dec 1914 bound for Egypt via Fremantle; the Bn had already embarked aboard HMAT “Ascanius” on 20 Oct 1914. On arrival in Egypt, Ben joined his Bn and undertook further training before embarking with his unit, this time bound for the Greek island of Lemnos in the Aegean Sea aboard the  'Ionian', where they transhipped to the British battleship HMS "Prince of Wales" for the passage to the Dardanelles.

 The 10th Bn was the first ashore at Gallipoli, as part of the screening force, landing at 0430 hours on 25 Apr 1915 at Anzac Cove.  It  had formed a Scout Company to lead the way and 2 of its members are credited as having penetrated further inland than any other Australians at Gallipoli, having reached the 'Third Ridge'.  The Bn suffered nearly 50% casualties in the first few days immediately after the landing.

 The Bn was also  heavily involved in establishing and defending the front line of the Anzac positions and had to withstand determined counter attacks launched by the Turks in May 1915.  It was during these attacks that Ben was killed in action (KIA) on 19 May 1915.  He is buried in the Divisional Cemetery at Shrapnel Gully, about 400 yards (approx 350m) South East of Anzac Cove.


Medals and Decorations

1914 - 15 Star                                                                                                

British War Medal                                                                                        

Victory Medal            




Mr. and Mrs. T. Thorpe, of Elliston, have received word that their eldest son, Private B. Thorpe, had been killed in Action on the Gallipoli Peninsula. He was born in Port Lincoln, and celebrated his 25th birthday in camp in Egypt. His life was spent at various places on the West Coast, and he was always respected and liked. He belonged to the gallant 3rd Brigade, and is the first from Elliston to lose his life in the war." - from the Adelaide Chronicle 17 Jul 1915 (