George Frederick THORNE

THORNE, George Frederick

Service Number: 1195
Enlisted: 21 April 1915, Claremont, Tasmania
Last Rank: Private
Last Unit: 26th Infantry Battalion
Born: Waratah, Tasmania, Australia, 5 June 1897
Home Town: Devonport, Devonport, Tasmania
Schooling: Not yet discovered
Occupation: Printer
Died: Killed in Action, Pozières, France, 29 July 1916, aged 19 years
Cemetery: No known grave - "Known Unto God"
Memorials: Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, Devonport Baptist Church Honour Roll, Devonport Cenotaph, Villers-Bretonneux Memorial (Australian National Memorial - France)
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World War 1 Service

21 Apr 1915: Enlisted AIF WW1, Claremont, Tasmania
29 Jun 1915: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, 1195, 26th Infantry Battalion, Battle for Pozières , --- :embarkation_roll: roll_number: '15' embarkation_place: Brisbane embarkation_ship: HMAT Aeneas embarkation_ship_number: A60 public_note: ''
29 Jun 1915: Embarked AIF WW1, Private, 1195, 26th Infantry Battalion, HMAT Aeneas, Brisbane

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Biography contributed by Rex Wright

George had been born in Waratah Tasmania to to Walter and Mary Thorne. Unfortunately his father died at age 32 but his mother had been a good saver and the family had owned a number of properties as was able to move to Devonport closer to his mothers family. Mary his mother remarried John Duckworth.

George joined the Army on 21 April 1915 when he was 18. He had been a printers apprentice for the last 5 years at Harris and Co in Devonport Tasmania. He was 5 feet 6 inches tall, of medium complexion, greyish bown eyes and dark brown hair.  He was allocated to the 26th battalion with his cousins Hubert Thorne (KIA 1918) and John Devlyn.  His stepfather John Duckworth had previously enlisted in August 1914 into the 12 Battalion. 

George landed in Gallipoli on 12 September 1915 with the 7th Brigade of the 2nd Division. His stepfather John Henry Duckworth had already been evacuated from Gallipoli after his second wounding on 2 May 1915. George went on to France in March 1916 after a short period defending the Suez Canal. After landing in France the battalion moved up to the Somme and prepared for the battle around Pozieres. His stepfather John was killed on 23 July in the inital assault by the 3rd Brigade. It is possible George would have known of his stepfather's death.  After the successful capture of Pozieres General Gough pushed for the immediate capature of the Old German defence line north and east of Pozieres. The 2nd division which included the 26th battalion of the 7th brigade was called to replace the 1st Division. At 12.30 on 29 July the 7th brigade with George Thorne among them was detected and the Germans commenced heavy fire on them and the 5th brigade. The 7th brigade conducted the main assault and was met by a hail of machine gun fire which combined with uncut wire pinned it and the 5th brigade down. The attack was a failure and the casualties so great that the 7th brigade had to be withdrawn into reserve so great were their losses.  George Thorne was killed in the action which caused 3,500 casualties among the 2nd Division alone. 

George wrote several letters home recalling the hardhip of trench life. His mother Mary never remarried and became a member of the labour party which became great practical help to her family. As a result she was friendly with Joe Lyons who went on the become Premier of Tasmania and 10th Prime Minister of Australia.

References:  NAA record of service SN 977 George Frederick Thorne, Wikipedia Battle of Pozieres, bood by David Thorne - In search of the six hundred, a history of the Thorne family