Thomas James WRIGHT

WRIGHT, Thomas James

Service Number: 2467
Enlisted: 3 February 1915, Melbourne, Vic.
Last Rank: Corporal
Last Unit: 59th Infantry Battalion
Born: Collingwood, Victoria, Australia, 23 August 1882
Home Town: Collingwood, Yarra, Victoria
Schooling: Cambridge St State School, Collingwood, Victoria, Australia
Occupation: Slater
Died: Killed in Action, France, 12 December 1916, aged 34 years
Cemetery: Delville Wood Cemetery, Longueval
Memorials: Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour
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World War 1 Service

3 Feb 1915: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, 2467, 7th Infantry Battalion, Melbourne, Vic.
16 Jul 1915: Involvement Private, 2467, 7th Infantry Battalion
16 Jul 1915: Embarked Private, 2467, 7th Infantry Battalion, HMAT Demosthenes, Melbourne
29 Nov 1915: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, 2467, 7th Infantry Battalion, ANZAC / Gallipoli
24 Feb 1916: Transferred AIF WW1, Private, 59th Infantry Battalion, Egypt
19 Jul 1916: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, 2467, 59th Infantry Battalion, Fromelles (Fleurbaix)
3 Aug 1916: Promoted AIF WW1, Lance Corporal, 59th Infantry Battalion, France
16 Oct 1916: Promoted AIF WW1, Corporal, 59th Infantry Battalion, France
12 Dec 1916: Involvement Corporal, 2467, 59th Infantry Battalion

Help us honour Thomas James Wright's service by contributing information, stories, and images so that they can be preserved for future generations.

Biography contributed by Faithe Jones

Son of Charles Lawson Wright and Ann Wright, of 89, Islington St., Collingwood, Victoria, Australia.

Biography contributed by Robert Wight

Prior to enlisting, Thomas Wright played 12 games (1906-07) for the Collingwood FC in the VFL.

Enlisting as a 32 year old slater on 3 February 1915, he embarked for overseas as a Private with the 7th Reinforcements of the 7th Battalion from Melbourne on 16 July 1915 aboard HMAT Demosthenes.

After transferring to the 59th Battalion on 24 February 1916, was promoted to Lance Corporal on 3 August 1916 and to Corporal on 16 October 1916. Cpl Wright was killed in action near Flers, France on 12 December 1916 and is buried in Delville Wood Cemetery, Longueval, France.

Source: AWM and Robert Wight

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Biography contributed by Evan Evans

From François Berthout

Cpl 2467 Thomas James Wright,
59th Australian Infantry Battalion, C Company,
15th Brigade, 5th Australian Division
 
In the silent and serene fields of the Somme which were once fields of death ravaged by shells, stand behind the rows of their white graves, proud and solemn, thousands of young men united in comradeship and remembrance who, he over a hundred years ago, on the fields of northern France, in the mud of the trenches and the blood of the battlefields of the great war, stood bravely under bullets and shrapnel and which together, through the no man's land, bayonets in front, charged with resolution until their last breath and found, in the fields of the Somme, their last resting places on which are inscribed for eternity, their names and the history of their life , of their courage and their sacrifices and over whom I would always watch with respect so that they are never forgotten, so that they live forever.

Today, it is with the deepest respect and infinite gratitude that I would like to honor the memory of one of these young men, one of my boys of the Somme who paid the supreme sacrifice for our today. I would like to pay a very respectful tribute to Corporal number 2467 Thomas James Wright who fought in the 59th Australian Infantry Battalion, C Company, 15th Brigade, 5th Australian Division, and who was killed in action 105 years ago, on Tuesday December 12, 1916 at the age of 34 on the Somme front.

Thomas James Wright, who was affectionately known as "Tom" was born on August 23, 1882 in Collingwood, Victoria, Australia, and was the son of Charles Lawson Wright and Ann Wright, of 89 Islington Street, Collingwood. Thomas was educated at Cambridge Street State School, Collingwood and after graduation worked as a slater, Thomas was a very good athlete and football player who was well known in Collingwood, he captained the New Zealand Team which played in the carnival games on the Melbourne Cricket Ground in 1905,and afterwards with the Collingwood Football Club in the Victorian Football League between 1906 and 1907.

Thomas enlisted on February 3, 1915 in Melbourne, Victoria, in the 7th Australian Infantry Battalion, 7th Reinforcement, Battalion which was raised in August 1914 by Lieutenant Colonel Harold Edward (Pompey) Elliott.After a period of five months of training, Thomas embarked with his unit from Melbourne, on board HMAT A64 Demosthenes on July 16, 1915 and sailed for Egypt.

On September 11, 1915, Thomas arrived in Egypt and was disembarked in Alexandria where the same day he joined the MEF (Mediterranean Expeditionary Force) and proceeded to the Gallipoli peninsula where he arrived on November 29 and fought courageously in the trenches of the beachhead of ANZAC against the counterattacks of the Turkish army until the evacuation on December 19 and were sent to Egypt on board "Empress Of Britain".

On January 7, 1916, Thomas arrived in Egypt and was disembarked at Alexandria and the following month, on February 24, he was transferred to the 59th Australian Infantry Battalion, C Company at Serapeum and taken on strength the same day at Tel-El-Kébir then three months later, on June 18, 1916, he embarked with his battalion from Alexandria, on board "Kinfauns Castle" and proceeded overseas for France.
After a journey of a little over ten days on the peaceful waters of the Mediterranean Sea, Thomas and the 59th Australian Infantry Battalion arrived in France and were disembarked in Marseilles on June 29, 1916 and a month later, on July 19,1916, they fought their first major engagement on the western front during the terrible battle of Fromelles during which, the 59th Battalion attacked in the first wave and suffered heavy casualties at the hands of German machine-gunners, and its advance faltered far short of its objective. Despite grievous losses, the units of the 5th Division manned the front line around Fromelles for a further two month.in the bloodiest 24 hours of the AIF (Australian Imperial Force), between July 19 and 20, 1916, the 59th Battalion lost 674 men.
On August 3, 1916, Thomas was appointed Lance Corporal and was sent to the 5th Divisional Gas School of Instruction the next day then joined his unit on August 7.After remaining in the front line around Fromelles for a little over two months,he was promoted to the rank of Corporal on October 16 and on October 18, 1916, he and the 59th Battalion were sent to the Somme and arrived at Longpré,nnear Amiens, in the evening then walked through Villers-sous-Ailly, Ribemont and arrived in a camp in Montauban where they received intensive training including physical exercises, charges and bayonets fights and on October 29, orders were received to join the front line in Flers and entered the next day in the "Carlton Trench" then in the "Switch Trench".

On November 2, 1916, Thomas and his comrades of the 59th Battalion left the Flers sector and moved to Dernancourt under a pleasant weather and stayed here until November 6 then walked through Buire, Ribemont, Heilly, Bonnay, Daours, Coisy, Bertangles, Ville-Sous-Corbie and arrived at Flesselles on November 7 and were billeted until November 17 and the next day, received orders to walk for Dernancourt under a light snow, then joined Montauban on November 19 and the next day, entered the "Needle Trench "near Gueudecourt where they relieved the 1st Battalion of the Grenadier Guards and consolidated, fortified the front line under a very active and particularly murderous German artillery then on November 23, were relieved by the 57th Australian Infantry Battalion and joined the" D Camp "near Flers where they stayed until December 9.

On December 10, 1916, Thomas and the 59th Australian Infantry Battalion moved back to the front line at Gueudecourt, near Flers, and occupied the "Needle Trench" and the "Windmill Trench" then the next day, occupied a position called "Needle Dump" but it is here that unfortunately, under the snow, the next day,on December 12, 1916, that Thomas met his fate and was most probably killed by a shell because the war diary of the 59th Battalion indicates that they faced terrible barrage of German artillery during the day.

Today, Corporal Thomas James Wright rests in peace alongside his friends, comrades and brothers in arms at Delville Wood Cemetery, Longueval, Somme, and his grave bears the following inscription: "Sunshine passes, Shadows fall love and remembrance outlast all."He was 34 years old.

Shortly before being killed in action, Thomas wrote a letter which was published in "The Winner" on Wednesday December 6, 1916 and in which he spoke of the continuance of sport during wartime and said:
"I see by the papers that football falls in for a lot of arguments. Well,as for myself, I think it would do a lot more good than harm if they carried on as they always, have. Think of the old saying, "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy." Anyhow, I am very pleased that some of the teams look at it in the same light as I, including the good old Magpies, and I am quite sure that this is the opinion of five out of every six pf the boys at the front."

Thomas, you who were in the prime of your life, with dreams and hopes full of heart, it is with the greatest determination that you answered the call to duty to do your part on the battlefields of the great war and that alongside your comrades, your brothers in arms in the trenches, for peace and freedom, for the future of humanity that you served with bravery and marched alongside your friends behind the drums and bagpipes through the fields and hills of the Somme which turned red with blood and which, under the bite of steel, under tons of shells, transformed peaceful landscapes into fields of death on which charged and fell a whole generation of young boys who faced the deadly fires of enemy machine guns with exceptional bravery and who, despite the weight of the war that they carried on their shoulders and their feet deep in the mud, moved forward with determination and conviction without ever taking one step back.Far from their country, from the warmth and love of their homes, their loved ones, they gave the best of themselves and sacrificed their youth, their innocence on the soils of France, a country they did not know very well but for which they all fought with deep affection for the French people who saw in these young men from the other side of the world, hope and courage through the darkness and these young Australians were quickly admired, loved and adopted like the sons of France, many of whom gave their lives on the battlefields of Pozieres, Amiens, Flers, Gueudecourt and Villers-Bretonneux where our flags fly united in the wind, under the gaze of the young Diggers who fell here and over whom I would always watch with love and respect so that who they were and what they did for us is never forgotten and that here, Australia and the spirit of ANZAC will live on forever.They were young and so brave and we owe so much to these men, to their courage and their sacrifices thanks to which we live today in a world at peace when they had as only youth a world at war and the permanent fear of being hit by a bullet, pulverized by a shell, poisoned by the invisible poisonous gases and bravely stood in the face of the death that awaited them on the battlefields with the fragile hope of seeing the sun rise on a new day and to come home to embrace their mothers, their fathers and sisters whose hearts were broken by the terrible telegram announcing that their sons were killed in mud and blood, sometimes without known graves but here, more than a hundred years after the great war , their memory is kept strong and alive, their names are remembered and honored with respect, their sons will never be forgotten and will always be in my care and in the care of the French people who here, in the Somme,will never forget Australia for which I have the deepest love and who, through the lives, the faces of these young boys, my boys of the Somme , has become my adopted country and that I would always be proud to represent and honor here, on the battlefields and cemeteries where your sons will always be loved and admired as they were over a hundred years ago. Thank you Thomas, for everything,with all my heart. At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember him, we will remember them. 

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