HUNTER, Thomas

Service Number: 505
Enlisted: 24 August 1914, Morphettville, South Australia
Last Rank: Sergeant
Last Unit: 10th Infantry Battalion
Born: Medomsley, England, 5 May 1880
Home Town: Kurri Kurri, Cessnock, New South Wales
Schooling: Church of England School, Medomsley, England
Occupation: Coal Miner
Died: Died of wounds, Peterborough, England, United Kingdom, 31 July 1916, aged 36 years
Cemetery: Peterborough Old (Broadway) Cemetery
Row 3 - Grave 2249
Memorials: Adelaide National War Memorial, Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, Broken Hill Barrier District Roll of Honour, Kurri Kurri War Memorial
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World War 1 Service

24 Aug 1914: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, 505, 10th Infantry Battalion, Morphettville, South Australia
20 Oct 1914: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, 505, 10th Infantry Battalion, Enlistment/Embarkation WW1,

--- :embarkation_roll: roll_number: '10' embarkation_place: Adelaide embarkation_ship: HMAT Ascanius embarkation_ship_number: A11 public_note: ''

20 Oct 1914: Embarked AIF WW1, Private, 505, 10th Infantry Battalion, HMAT Ascanius, Adelaide
25 Apr 1915: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, 505, 10th Infantry Battalion, ANZAC / Gallipoli
25 Jul 1916: Wounded Sergeant, 505, 10th Infantry Battalion, Battle for Pozières , Shell wound (spine)
31 Jul 1916: Involvement AIF WW1, Sergeant, 505, 10th Infantry Battalion, Battle for Pozières , --- :awm_ww1_roll_of_honour_import: awm_service_number: 505 awm_unit: 10 Battalion awm_rank: Sergeant awm_died_date: 1916-07-31

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

Biography contributed by Steve Larkins

The Lonely ANZAC

This is story of a man and his journey in WWI and the way he has come to symbolise the service and sacrifice of the original ANZAC’s in a distant English town.

Sgt Thomas Hunter was born and raised in Medomsley, County Durham in 1880.  He became a coal miner at the early age of thirteen and later, served 10 years with the Durham Artillery.  Thomas migrated to Australia in 1910 and initially lived with his Aunt and worked as a miner, in the Hebburn Colliery at Kurri Kurri and later at Broken Hill. 

When WWI broke out, he was a part of a contingent of over 50 men that travelled from Broken Hill to Adelaide and enlisted in the 10th Battalion AIF (/explore/units/1), their regimental numbers ranged from 477 to 543; Private Hunter (/explore/people/239543) was allocated the number 505; the man behind him in the enlistment queue, was 506 Private Reginald Roy Inwood (/explore/people/44803) who in September 1917 would be awarded a Victoria Cross for his valorous actions at Polygon Wood. He was the second of three men in the “Fighting 10th” to receive the VC; the first being, Arthur Seaforth Blackburn (/explore/people/930) and the third being Philip Davey MM (/explore/people/116325).

In October 1914, Thomas sailed to Egypt with H Company, 10th Battalion aboard on HMAT Ascanius A11.  Here they underwent training for active service.   As the 10th Battalion along with its’ sister battalions the 9th, 11th & 12th of 3rd Brigade were the covering force for the landing on 25 April 1915, Thomas and his mates struggled ashore at 4.30am making them among the very first men to land at that small cove that would later forever bear their name ANZAC Cove.

At the end of the first week, just a day before the AIF launched a major attack to extend their line, Thomas was severely wounded in the foot at and subsequently evacuated to Egypt.  Thomas returned to his battalion at Gallipoli in June and was with them until they left the Gallipoli Peninsula for Mudros, in November.

In accordance with the plan to expand the AIF, upon their return to Egypt the 10th like all battalions was divided equally in half to form other battalions and from the 10th the 50th Battalion was formed.  Here the battalions were reinforced with men who had seen no action so after they were reorganised, rest and training were the order of the day.  The 10th Battalion as part of the 3rd Brigade 1st Division was deployed to France and arrived at Marseilles in April 1916.  In July they were moved into position to attack Pozières (/explore/campaigns/5), an action which formed part of the Somme Offensive.  This was to be their first action in France.  The battle lasted from the 22nd to 25th of July.  Unfortunately on the last day at Pozières Thomas Hunter sustained a severe gunshot wound to the back and was partially paralysed.  He was taken to 13th General Hospital, Boulogne and then evacuated by H.S. St. Denis to England.  There he was placed on a hospital train which was to take him to Halifax.  Along the way when his condition deteriorated, he was taken off the train at Peterborough, Cambridgeshire, and there admitted to the local infirmary.  Ironically, this was about 200 miles from where he was born; regrettably he died as a result of his wounds on the 31st July.

Sgt Thomas Hunter is thought to be the first ANZAC soldier to die on English soil and became known to the locals in Peterborough as “The Lonely ANZAC”.

As Australians had only commenced serving on the Western Front, the people in England had not had extensive contact with them.  The fact that this Australian from half a world away, had come to fight and die on behalf of England and the Empire deeply touched the local community.  It also provided them with an outlet for the grieving of their own heavy losses.  Community feeling ran high and the sentiment of honouring him and what he represented was led by the Mayor of Peterborough.  As a result a funeral service with several thousand people in attendance took place with a horse drawn hearse, the cathedral bell tolling and with full military honours at The Broadway cemetery, on August 2nd 1916; all shops were closed during this sad event.  After the funeral the grave was covered in countless wreaths and posies.

Eventually a three metre grey granite Celtic cross was installed and is the sentinel at his grave.  There is also a bronze plaque, measuring a metre in length and weighing over 1,000 kilograms;  installed at the western end of the Peterborough Minster dedicated to him, part of the inscription reads “dedicated in the faith and fear of God by fellow citizens of the Empire for which he gave his life”. Both of these were installed in 1917 and paid for by the community of Peterborough through a public subscription promoted by the local paper, the Peterborough Advertiser.  Such was the depth of feeling the locals raised 100 Guineas in ten days, a vast sum in those days.

In December 1932 the Mayor of Newcastle NSW wrote to the Peterborough Council expressing his Council’s gratitude for the respect and spirt of remembrance accorded to Sgt Hunter by the people of Peterborough.  He asked for a wreath to be laid at the grave and the local council immediately complied; the events were reported on the front page of the Peterborough Advertiser, with a poem by A G Darley dedicated to Sgt Thomas Hunter.

Services continued to be held at the grave over the years though unfortunately grave fell into disrepair.  In 2000 it was restored and rededicated in a service organised by the local branch of the Royal British Legion.  Through the efforts of local Peterborough resident and historian John Harvey, the remembrance of Sgt Hunter and what he represented received further impetus in 2003 when John researched the story and published a book; “The Lonely ANZAC: A True Son of Empire”. 

Now, every ANZAC Day a memorial service organised by the City Corporation is held at his grave, it is a solemn and significant occasion.  As well as the attendance of the local citizens, notable attendees  have included: The High Sheriff of Cambridgeshire representing Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II; the Lord Lieutenant of Cambridgeshire; Australian Defence Force Personnel representing the Australian High Commissioner in London; Representatives of the New Zealand High Commissioner; the Mayor of Peterborough and other civic dignitaries; US Defence personnel; about Standard Bearers from Regimental Associations, the Royal Air Force, the Royal British Legion and cadet groups.


Relatives of Sgt Hunter still reside in the Kurri Kurri area of New South Wales, Australia and were unaware of the significant story behind their great uncle’s death in WWI.  Ron Warden from the UK, retired for a while to Australia and through the RSL Sub Branch at Kurri Kurri, managed to make contact with Thomas Hunter’s descendants and later met with them to present the material relating to his story.  For the Centenary of ANZAC Service in 2015, Ms Jo Gainer, Thomas Hunter’s great-great niece attended the ceremony.

An unusual side note is that according to local Peterborough legend, the infirmary in which Thomas Hunter passed away is haunted by his ghost. Some years ago, the wife of a Caretaker who lived on the premises saw the apparition of a man aged about 30 in a grey or green suit floating up the stairs towards her.  He went right past her before then passing through a pair of closed doors then down a corridor at the end of which he completely vanished.

It appears that Thomas Hunter still resides in the local Peterborough community which has so taken him to heart, in both body & spirit!

Acknowledgements to: Ron Warden, Mike Seabourne, John Harvey and the RMPA Western Australia Branch for material which has contributed to this article.

© Greg Sharon

Vice President: 10th Battalion A.I.F. Association



Thomas Hunter was an original member of H Company 10th Battalion AIF

Severely wounded in right foot at Gallipoli but following treatment and convalescence in Egyprt he rejoined the battalion at Gallipoli on 12 June 1915. 

Promoted to Lance Corporal, Corporal, and finally Sergeant

Severely wounded in the spine at Pozieres on 25 July 1916 and died of those wounds in England on 31 July 1916.

Reference Book: "The Lonely ANZAC: A True Son of Empire" by John Walter Harvey, 2003, relates the story of Sgt. Hunter in regard to his military service and subsequent death in Peterborough.

Also see the tribute to Thomas Hunter at THIS LINK (/research/home-page-archives/the-lonely-anzac)


Biography contributed by Cathy Sedgwick

The summary below was completed by Cathy Sedgwick (OAM) – Facebook “WW1 Australian War Graves in England/UK/Scotland/Ireland”

George Thomas Hunter was born on 5th May, 1880 at Medomsley, near Newcastle, Co. Durham, England to parents George Burton Hunter & Mary Hunter (nee Walton).

Mary Hunter, mother of Thomas Hunter, died in 1882 at Sunderland, Durham, England.

Thomas Hunter emigrated to Australia in 1910, at the age of 30. He originally lived with his aunt & uncle – John & Hannah Dawson at Kurri Kurri, NSW. Later he moved to Broken Hill to work in the heavy metal mines.

He enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force (A.I.F.) on 24th August, 1914 as a 34 year old, single, Miner from Cobalt Street, Broken Hill, NSW. Thomas Hunter stated that he had no living next of kin & listed J. Dawson of Deakin Street, Kurri Kurri, NSW as a contact. Thomas Hunter stated on his Attestation Papers that he had served 10 years with Field Artillery, Durham.


Private Thomas Hunter, Service number 505,  embarked from Adelaide, South Australia on HMAT Ascanius (A11) on 20th October, 1914 with the 10th Infantry Battalion, “H” Company.

He embarked for Gallipoli on Ionian on 2nd March, 1915 to join M.E.F. (Mediterranean Expeditionary Force).

Private Thomas Hunter was wounded in action at Dardanelles (no date recorded). He received a gunshot wound to right foot (Severe) & was transferred to Ionian. Private Hunter was admitted to 17th General Hospital at Alexandria on 1st May, 1915. He was transferred to Convalescent Camp at Mustapha on 23rd May, 1915. Private Hunter was discharged to duty from Convalescent Camp on 31st May, 1915. He joined Overseas Base from Convalescent Camp on 1st June, 1915 & embarked on H.M.T. Ionian from Alexandria on 2nd June, 1915.

On 12th June, 1915 Private Hunter rejoined his Battalion at Gallipoli from being wounded.

He was promoted to Lance Corporal at Gallipoli on 25th August, 1915

Lance Corporal Hunter was to be Temporary Corporal at Gallipoli on 11th October, 1915.

Temporary Corporal Hunter reverted to Lance Corporal on 7th December, 1915 then appointed Lance Sergeant on 7th December, 1915.

Lance Sergeant Hunter disembarked at Alexandria from Seang Bee on 29th December, 1915 (after the evacuation of Gallipoli).

He was promoted to Sergeant on 1st March, 1916.

Sergeant Thomas Hunter proceeded from Alexandria on 27th March, 1916 on Troopship Saxonia to join B.E.F. (British Expeditionary Force). He disembarked at Marseilles, France on 3rd April, 1916.

On 25th July, 1916 Sergeant Hunter was wounded in action in France. He was admitted to 13th General Hospital, Boulogne, France on 27th July, 1916 with gunshot wounds to back. Sergeant Hunter was invalided to England on 29th July, 1916 on Hospital Ship St. Denis.


Sergeant Thomas Hunter died on 31st July, 1916 at Peterborough Infirmary, England from wounds received in action in France – spinal injury and paralysis. (Several forms in the Service Record file of Sergeant Thomas Hunter record that he died at Peterborough Infirmary, Peterborough, Scotland – including notification to Mr T. Dawson of Kurri Kurri, NSW)

[Peterborough Infirmary later became Peterborough Museum & is thought to be Peterborough’s most haunted building. The most frequently witnessed ghost is of Australian World War 1 soldier Thomas Hunter, who sadly died in the infirmary in 1916. He's known as the grey ghost, so called because of his grey clothes and suitcase. His ghostly form has been felt and seen numerous times walking up & down the first floor stairs along with an overwhelming sense of unease.]

He was buried on 2nd August, 1916 in Peterborough Old Cemetery (Broadway Cemetery), Peterborough, Cambridgeshire, England – Plot number 7. 3. 2249 and has a private headstone which was raised by public subscription. His death is still acknowledged by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.


(The above is a summary of my research. The full research can be found by following the link below)