Thomas Bernard (Tommy) COSGRAVE


COSGRAVE, Thomas Bernard

Service Number: SX13162
Enlisted: 9 June 1941, Adelaide, South Australia
Last Rank: Private
Last Unit: 2nd/48th Infantry Battalion
Born: Mount Barker, South Australia, 28 April 1918
Home Town: Macclesfield, South Australia, Mount Barker, South Australia
Schooling: Not yet discovered
Occupation: Labourer
Died: Died of wounds (blood clot), Tel el Eisa, Egypt, 6 November 1942, aged 24 years
Cemetery: Alexandria (Hadra) War Memorial Cemetery, Egypt
Grave 4-B-4
Memorials: Adelaide WW2 Wall of Remembrance, Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, Macclesfield ANZAC Memorial Gardens, Macclesfield Honour Roll WW2, Macclesfield Memorial Gates
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World War 2 Service

9 Jun 1941: Enlisted Australian Military Forces (Army WW2), Private, SN SX13162, 2nd/48th Infantry Battalion
9 Jun 1941: Involvement Australian Military Forces (Army WW2), Private, SN SX13162, 2nd/48th Infantry Battalion
9 Jun 1941: Enlisted Private, Adelaide, South Australia
9 Jun 1941: Enlisted Private, SN SX13162, 2nd/48th Infantry Battalion, Adelaide, SA
10 Jun 1941: Involvement Private, SN SX13162
18 Sep 1941: Embarked Private, SN SX13162, 2nd/48th Infantry Battalion, HMT Marnix Van St. Aldegonde, Melbourne
6 Nov 1942: Involvement Private, SN SX13162, 2nd/48th Infantry Battalion, Middle East / Mediterranean Theatre
Date unknown: Discharged Australian Military Forces (Army WW2), Private, SN SX13162, 2nd/48th Infantry Battalion
Date unknown: Involvement

Thoughts of ‘Maccy’

Thomas (Tom) was one of four children, Denis, Phillip and Mary who grew up in Macclesfield, a Hills town in the Mount Lofty Ranges, which was established soon after SA settlement. He came from a strong Catholic family upbringing including being a member of the Sunshine Club’s children’s page in the Catholic ‘Southern Cross’ newspaper. He was an early entrant in an original story competition, earning public praise for his entry. His family were also regular attendees at the annual New Year’s Day Picnic. Begun in 1883, the original purpose was to raise funds for the debt of constructing St James’ Church and the building of a footbridge from the Main Street to the church. Tom’s father, also called Tom, had been both President and Secretary on the fund-raising Committee. The local paper described the grounds as being: ‘the pretty little recreation ground, which is ideally situated on a rise overlooking the town ship. A row of pines, lopped of the lower branches, provided ample shelter for horses. Gnarled old gum trees that have sheltered picnic groups beneath its leafy branches every New Year's Day.’ There his father, had the role of collecting guesses for the weight of the fat sheep on display.
Tom was an active sportsman with the local tennis, football and table tennis teams, including being secretary for the latter. He was also a talented euchre card player, winning at a local tournament in ’32.
In an interesting spot-light of the times, the whole Macclesfield community came together to celebrate their Management Committee’s success in having street lights installed. A huge celebration that Tom and his family joined, was the formal ‘switch on’ with the front of the local Hall decorated and the arch above the stage outlined with red, orange and blue lights. The stage was decorated with autumn foliage and flowers.
Tom had just turned 23 when he enlisted in June ‘41 to serve in WWII, being allocated to the newly formed 2/48th Battalion. Ironically, Tom then returned to the hills at Woodside to train but unfortunately contracted tonsilitis prior to travelling overseas to the Middle East. As did many others, Tom then contracted mumps and was again hospitalised.
Eventually Tom was able to rejoin the 2/48th Battalion in May ’42. A regular letter writer, his parents Catherine and Tom shared a letter with the Gawler ‘Bunyip’ that Tom had written while “in the Western Desert in which he demonstrates the way newspapers, and especially the local one, are. valued by the men. He says: 'The Courier is a real friend over here, and you couldn’t imagine how we read every line over and over again. Maccy items are extra welcome.' He also stated that the chaps were busy, between diving away to miss the attention of the planes making gadgets out of pieces of wrecked Messerschmitt structure The dust was terrible, and the drift so bad that 'the telephone posts, were the only, things that stood above' it, also a- bomb-torn shed or two that used to be the railway station. No trees or birds an occasional jackal (always helped on its way-by a few bullets) thousands of sand-colour lizards and flies to the extent that could not be imagined in Australia. The weather had not been too bad quite warm in the day. but cool at night! Jack Whimpress, of Euchunga, is with them and he says: 'Jack is a hero if ever there was one. He is a stretcher bearer and when we got into a pretty hot spot on the first day, he was running around attending to the wounded chaps when we were hardly game to show our heads' It was marvellous to see what he went through.”
Intense fighting during October ’42 saw the 2/48th capture they key Ring Contour, then a key position known as Clover Leaf over an horrendous last week of October with the ranks reduced to 213 men. In ‘Tobruk to Tarakan’, John Glenn observes:
”We thought of ourselves as few enough then, but surely the bravest amongst us would have shuddered if they could have known to what a weary handful we would be reduced by morning..”
The battalion was decimated but continued to fight eventually breaking through the enemy’s defences in an effective but bitter battle. It appears that in the last hours of the success was when Tom was injured from “one of the enemy’s last salvos before going into full retreat, ” sustaining a gunshot wound to his left thigh. With so many others he was evacuated to hospital but died of his wounds, described as a blood clot, on the 6th November. He was just 24 years old.
He was buried, initially at Hadra, then at the Alexandria War Cemetery. Many tributes were placed in memory of Tom including a poignant one from Tom and Laurie Brennan in the Advertiser, 1943.: ‘A tribute to the memory of my school mates. Pte. Tom Cosgrove, died of wounds. Egypt; and Cpl Denis Cosgrove, killed. New Guinea. —Inserted by Corporal Tom Brennan (returned R-A.A.F.). Sapper Laurie Brennan (AIF.)’.
Despite the continuing war, Macclesfield held their annual Anzac Sports in aid of the POW and local RSL sub-branch. The Premier was one of a number of dignitaries who attended. A Cosgrove Memorial Cup in memory of Mr. Tom Cosgrove's two soldier sons- Tom, killed at El Alamein, and Denis, killed in New Guinea was presented to the owner of the fastest horse.
Researched and written by Kaye Lee, daughter of Bryan Holmes SX8133, 2/48th Battalion

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Son of Thomas Christopher COSGRAVE and Catherine (nee McNAMARA) of Macclesfield, South Australia.

Tommy died from a blood clot in hospital three days after receiving a minor schrapnel wound to the thigh.

"COSGRAVE.— A tribute to the memory of Tommy, died in Egypt on Nov. 6. — lnserted by Mr. and Mrs. Jack Wright and Neil.

COSGRAVE.— A tribute of love to the memory of Tommy, died in Egypt on Nov. 6. — lnserted by Ginty.  

COSGRAVE. — A loving tribute to the memory of Tommy, died in Egypt, Nov. 6.

In silence I remember.— lnserted by Eve.

COSGRAVE.— A tribute of love to the memory of Tommy, died in Egypt, Nov. 6.

I shall always remember.— lnserted by Bobby.

COSGRAVE.— Died of wounds, Egypt. Nov. 6, Thomas Bernard, dearly loved eldest son of Thomas and Catherine Cosgrave, Macclesfleld, loved brother of Denis (A.I.F., New Guinea), Phillip, and Mary. Aged 24 years. R.I.P." - from the Adelaide Advertiser 17 Nov 1942 (

"Macclesfield Man Dies of Wounds

Mr. and Mrs. T. C. Cosgrave, of Macclesfield, have been advised that their eldest son, Pte. Thomas Bernard Cosgrave, 24, died of wounds in Egypt on November 6th. Pte. Cosgrave was a member of the Macclesfield Football Club, captain of the B Grade Tennis Club, and hon, secretary of Hills' Table Tennis Association." - from the Port Elliot Southern Argus 26 Nov 1942 (