Thomas MANDERSON

MANDERSON, Thomas

Service Number: 429
Enlisted: 26 October 1915, Brisbane, Queensland
Last Rank: Private
Last Unit: 42nd Infantry Battalion
Born: Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, 15 September 1889
Home Town: Bundaberg, Bundaberg, Queensland
Schooling: South Kolan State School, Queensland, Australia
Occupation: Farmer
Died: Killed in Action, Belgium, 9 June 1917, aged 27 years
Cemetery: Bethleem Farm West Cemetery, Belgium
Memorials: Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, Biggenden Honour Roll, Biggenden Residents of Degilbo Shire War Memorial, Booyal Central School Fallen Heroes, Booyal Central School Roll of Honour, Booyal Fallen Comrades Honour Roll, Booyal Roll of Honor, Brisbane 42nd Infantry Battalion AIF Roll of Honour, Bundaberg War Memorial, Childers Memorial Hall (Isis District Pictorial War Memorial), Dallarnil District WW1 Honour Roll, Gin Gin War Memorial, Isis District Roll of Honour
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World War 1 Service

26 Oct 1915: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, 429, Brisbane, Queensland
5 Jun 1916: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, 429, 42nd Infantry Battalion, Enlistment/Embarkation WW1
5 Jun 1916: Embarked AIF WW1, Private, 429, 42nd Infantry Battalion, HMAT Borda, Sydney
9 Jun 1917: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, 429, 42nd Infantry Battalion, Battle of Messines

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Biography contributed by John Edwards

"...429 Private Thomas Manderson, 42nd Battalion from Gin Gin, Queensland. A 26 year old labourer prior to enlisting on 26 October 1915, he embarked for overseas with B Company from Sydney on 5 July 1915 aboard HMAT Borda. Following further training in England, he proceeded to France to join the 42nd Battalion in November 1916. Pte Manderson was killed in action at Messines, Belgium on 9 July 1917 and buried in the Bethleem Farm West Cemetery, Belgium. His younger brother 428 Corporal Charles Manderson also served with the 42nd Battalion and was killed in action in France on 31 August 1918." - SOURCE (www.awm.gov.au)

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Biography contributed by Ian Lang

#429  MANDERSON  Thomas  42nd Infantry Battalion
 
Tom Manderson was the elder son of Thomas snr and Jessie Jane Manderson. He was born in Brisbane but by the time he was old enough to attend school, the family had moved to the South Kolan district on the Burnett River. Tom and his younger brother Charles (Charlie) both attended South Kolan State School.
 
The Manderson family were most likely engaged in farming and had taken advantage of new land being opened up with the construction of a narrow gauge rail line which ran from Childers to Dallarnil. Tom Manderson presented himself for enlistment in Brisbane on 26th October 1915. He stated his age as 26 years and occupation as farmer. Tom’s younger brother, Charlie, had also enlisted eight days earlier. Both boys named their mother, Jessie Manderson of Tawah on the Isis branch line as next of kin.
 
Despite enlisting on different days, the boys were both placed into depot battalions at Enoggera before being allocated to “B” Company of the 42nd Infantry Battalion. The recruits at Enoggera received intensive training for almost six months before embarking for overseas on the “Borda” in Sydney on 5th June 1916. Upon arrival in Southampton at the end of July, the 42nd marched out to the 3rd Division Training Camp at Larkhill on Salisbury Plain.
 
The 3rd Division was under the command of Major General John Monash, who was a newly appointed divisional commander with fresh ideas about training and preparations for battle. For Tom and Charlie, training continued in England, interspersed with periods of leave and a rare visit by the King, George V, who came down to Larkhill to see the Australians. Monash put on a huge parade of over 22,000 men. The King and the General sat astride their horses, chatting amiably, while taking the salute.
 
On 25th November 1916, the men of the 42nd Battalion, along with the rest of Monash’s 3rd Division, crossed the English Channel and moved up to the front in the area around Ploegsteert and Meteren on the French / Belgian border. The winter of 1916/17 was bitterly cold and the 42nd spent a lot of time in front line as well as labouring in the rear areas. After the less than successful campaign by the British on the Somme in 1916 and Autumn of 1917, the focus of the conflict shifted north to the Ypres salient in Belgian Flanders. The Germans had established themselves on high ground which gave them a distinct advantage. For any assault to succeed, the Germans would need to be driven off the high points.
 
For some time, tunnelling companies comprised of men with mining backgrounds had been systematically driving tunnels under the German positions along a low ridge which stretched from just east of the Ypres city wall south through the village of Messines to Ploegsteert Wood. The tunnellers had loaded the galleries of their tunnels with thousands of pounds of explosives. These mines, 19 in total along the Messines Ridge, were exploded on the morning of the 7th June 1916, shattering the German defences and killing several thousand.
 
Once the smoke and dust had cleared, brigades from the 3rd and 4th Divisions, attached to the British 2ndArmy assaulted the old German lines and dug in on the new positions. Once the Germans recovered from the explosions, their artillery began a systematic bombardment of the trench lines which they had so recently occupied. Two days after the Messines assault, Tom Manderson and three other men of “B” Company were killed when a German shell landed in the trench in which they were sheltering.
 
Red Cross reports state that the bodies were recovered by a team of Pioneers and buried in a small graveyard at Bethleem Farm. Tom’s brother Charlie was probably close by when Tom and the others were killed and he no doubt was able to furnish his parents with the details long before official reports reached the North Burnett.
 
Tom’s grave remained undisturbed through another 18 months of war. The graveyard at Bethleem Farm, just over a kilometre from Messines, was incorporated into a Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery in the 1920s. Tom’s grave was eventually marked with a permanent marker of Portland limestone which gave his name, rank, unit.
 
Charlie Manderson survived the rest of the Ypres campaign but was killed later in the war at Peronne. The Manderson parents had moved several times during the course of the war and the authorities had lost track of them. It was only in response to a notice in the “Courier Mail” that Thomas snr and Jessie received their sons’ medals and memorial plaques delivered to St Agnes via Gin Gin.
 
Both Tom and Charlie are commemorated on a number of memorials throughout the North Burnett.

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