Thomas Charles Richmond BAKER DFC, MM and Bar

BAKER, Thomas Charles Richmond

Service Numbers: 9470, Officer
Enlisted: 29 July 1915, Keswick, South Australia
Last Rank: Captain
Last Unit: No. 4 Squadron, Australian Flying Corps
Born: Smithfield, South Australia, 2 May 1897
Home Town: Adelaide, South Australia
Schooling: Gilles St Primary School, St. Peter's College, Adelaide High School
Occupation: Bank Clerk (Bank of NSW)
Died: Killed In Action (Flying Battle), Ath, Walloon, Belgium, 4 November 1918, aged 21 years
Cemetery: Escanaffles Communal Cemetery
Near the east boundary, north of the entrance - There are two WW1 burials, Thomas Baker being one.
Memorials: Adelaide Gilles Street Primary School WW1 Honour Board (Original), Adelaide High School Honour Board, Adelaide National War Memorial, Adelaide St John's Anglican Church Memorial Tablet, Adelaide St John's Church Baker Memorial Stained Glass Window, Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, Bank of New South Wales Roll of Honour Book, Hackney St Peter's College Fallen Honour Board
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World War 1 Service

29 Jul 1915: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, 9470, 6th Field Artillery Brigade , Keswick, South Australia
22 Nov 1915: Involvement AIF WW1, Gunner, 9470, 6th Field Artillery Brigade , Enlistment/Embarkation WW1
22 Nov 1915: Embarked AIF WW1, Gunner, 9470, 6th Field Artillery Brigade , HMAT Persic, Melbourne
23 Jul 1916: Involvement AIF WW1, Gunner, 9470, 6th Field Artillery Brigade , Battle for Pozières
1 Nov 1916: Involvement AIF WW1, Gunner, 9470, 6th Field Artillery Brigade , Flers/Gueudecourt
4 Apr 1918: Involvement Second Lieutenant, Officer, Australian Flying Corps (AFC)
5 Jun 1918: Involvement AIF WW1, Lieutenant, No. 4 Squadron, Australian Flying Corps, AFC / RFC operations Western Front / Middle East
15 Jun 1918: Involvement Captain, Officer, No. 4 Squadron, Australian Flying Corps, "The Last Hundred Days"

Account in the St Peter's Collegiate School magazine post-war

After the war Mr Stanford Howard late Lieutenant, 4th Squadron, Australian Flying Corps wrote an article about the exploits of Thomas Baker which was published in the School Magazine.

… He grew utterly fearless, and in his wonderful confidence in himself and his machine he went into such corners from which only miracles could save him, and these miracles he achieved. After 2½ months with the fighting squadron he had seven Huns to his credit, and also two hostile observation balloons. His tactics in the air showed great originality, and on several occasions he saved his patrol from destruction by timely moves and counter-moves. He was the friend of all inexperienced pilots, because they knew that with Baker leading they would not be left long in any predicament. In a scrap, or ‘dog-fight,’ as we called them, his machine could be seen darting here and there, always to the help of those in difficulties. For his excellent work he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, and was also recommended for the D.S.O., but his untimely end prevented the award of the latter, as the higher command desired to watch his development still further before granting him this honour. He met his death in the defence of others from the attacks of greatly superior numbers, and he went down, as might be expected, colours flying, fighting to the last. His total bag of Huns was 15 machines and four balloons, and it is a splendid record. Let me say in conclusion that no news was received with greater concern by the pilots of our squadron than the news of the death of Richmond Baker. He left a splendid memory, of which his family is justly proud and in this pride all South Australians should share.


Recommendation - Distinguished Flying Cross

Lieut. BAKER has rendered most valuable services in connection with serial offensive operations since joining No. 4 A.F.C. on 16.6.18. The number of occasions on which this officer has shown exceptional determination and courage are too numerous to include in this report, but whether flying alone or as part of a small formation engaged in low flying attacks at ground targets under heavy anti-aircraft and machine gun fire, or whether leading larger formations against overwhelming forces of enemy machine, he has always shown great qualities of initiative and dash, and has never shrunk, in face of danger, from causing the maximum amount of loss and damage to the enemy. He has carried out upwards of forty low flying raids on hostile troops, aerodromes, transport etc., has destroyed 8 hostile machines, and his record and his record shows that in addition to a large number of offensive patrols during which nothing unusual occurred, he has also carried out 56 flights, all of which include incidents of a notable character. On the 26.10.18 in the course of 2 flights, he completely destroyed 2 hostile aircraft and drove a 3rd down out of control. On the 29th October 1918 he destroyed another hostile machine. On both these occasions the Flight which he was leading accounted for a large number of hostile aircraft, a result which must be attributed to the clever tactics adopted by him, by means of which he outmanoeuvred the hostile patrol before attacking



From the dogfight, which followed, three of our machines failed to return. One of our machines (supposed to have been piloted by Capt. BAKER was seen to land and turn over on it’s back close to the River Eacaut about 10 miles North of TOURNAI. At this time (Novr. 4th) the enemy were retreating in Belgium and the exact positions of his front line were not known to the Squadron. Later in the same day a car went out from the Squadron to locate the crashed machine but could not reach it owing to the enemy line being slightly West of the River Eacaut at that point. No subsequent information regarding this officer has come to hand either from repatriated pilots, or through enemy channels.

OC 4th Squadron, Major Percival Schafer MM 4 Nov 1918


Biography contributed by Dut Tong

Thomas Baker, Born May second, 1897 was brought up in Smithfield South Australia. Thomas went to Saint Peters college and loved sports. He additionally had a love for aviation.  Preceding the war, he served in the Cadet Corps. On the 29th of July 1915, Baker joined the AIF (Australian Imperial force), designated to the first Fortifications of the sixth Field Ordnance Unit. His training was finished in Adelaide. It was on the 22nd of November 1915 that he left Melbourne on his mission to serve in the great war.

Baker was appended to the 16th Field Gunnery Unit on the 26th of December 1915 in Toura. The battery prepared in Egypt and after that set out to France on the seventeenth, they left to participate in the main battle of Somme (battled between July 1, 1916 – November 18, 1916). The battle for Pozieres and Mouquet Farm needed ordnance trades, Baker and the sixteenth Battery managed to power through the two battles. Guedecourt was assigned to be the HQ for the AIF that winter, on the eleventh of December, 1916. He was swapped out to a Forward scout group close Guedecourt to support the accuracy of weapons with just a field telephone for communication. Thomas was under substantial fire by some riflemen that took out his telephone, he repaired the harmed telephone line, and repaired communication. This act earned him a Military Award, to which he later earned the Military Bar in an occasion the next year.

In Messines on the evening of the 21st of June 1917, Baker had been reconnected to his Battery after he recovered from trench fever. The disguise on the No. 1 pit had burst into flames, putting around 300 rounds of shells of high explosives in threat at around 3:30 pm. B.S.M. Creek had requested volunteers to help him in putting out the fire, to which Baker and three other men reacted to instantly. Every one of the five men put out the fire utilizing water assembled from a nearby well and in shell openings. Baker and the three other men, including Darker, Cleric, and McSweeney, were each granted the Military Decoration Bar for this demonstration. 

In August 1917, Baker had started to look at a career in the Australian Flying Corps, after witnessing syncronized aerobatic pilots in real life. In September 1917 he was exchanged to a workman position for the A.F.C., before long, he experienced flying and prepared for the No. 5 Flying Squadron in Britain.

He finished his first solo trip in 1918. Thomas went on leave from his preparation in Britain from the 31st of August, re-joining on the fifteenth of September. He graduated on the fifteenth of June 1918 as a pilot of a Sopwith Camel and was then commissioned as a Second Lieutenant for the No. 4 fighting Squadron. Baker in the four months of battle Between June 23rd and November fourth Thomas had shot down 12 enemy aircraft in his Sopwith Camel and his Sopwith Sharpshooter. In October,  Baker wrecked two unfriendly aircraft, after two weeks his flying skills excelled, earned him his Distinguished Flying Cross. His last flight was on the fourth of November, over the city of Ath, Belgium, where he and a partner were in battle when Thomas was tragically shot down and revealed lost without a trace. His demise was later confirmed and grieved by his squadron and family. Thomas was given several awards after death, such as the Flying Cross on the 23rd of May, 1919.


Biography contributed

Biography written by Ashton Joshy, Aberfoyle Park High School, SA attached as a document. Winning entry for 2022 Premier's Anzac Spirit School Prize.