Thomas Miller FORBES

Badge Number: S7775
S7775

FORBES, Thomas Miller

Service Number: 5837
Enlisted: 27 March 1916, at Kadina
Last Rank: Private
Last Unit: 48th Infantry Battalion
Born: Mallala, South Australia, Australia, January 1879
Home Town: Wallaroo, Copper Coast, South Australia
Schooling: Not yet discovered
Occupation: Commission agent
Died: Parkside, South Australia, Australia, 18 April 1933, cause of death not yet discovered
Cemetery: Not yet discovered
Memorials: Kulpara District Council Roll of Honour, Mallala Public School Roll of Honor, Paskeville Soldiers Memorial Gates, Willowie Schools and District Roll of Honor
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World War 1 Service

27 Mar 1916: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, SN 5837, 10th Infantry Battalion, at Kadina
27 Jun 1916: Involvement Private, SN 5837, 10th Infantry Battalion
27 Jun 1916: Embarked Private, SN 5837, 10th Infantry Battalion, HMAT Barambah, Melbourne
11 Apr 1917: Imprisoned Bullecourt (First), Held in camps Munster Lager and Soltau after being wounded at First Bullecourt. Repatriated to Britain via Holland early 1918.
11 Apr 1917: Wounded AIF WW1, Private, SN 5837, 48th Infantry Battalion, Bullecourt (First), SW left arm, later amputated
11 Nov 1918: Involvement Private, SN 5837, 48th Infantry Battalion

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

Biography contributed by Saint Ignatius' College

Life before the war

Thomas Miller Forbes was living a normal life at the age of 37 with his loyal spouse, Mrs E Forbes in the small town of Wallaroo, South Australia. It is unknown if he had children with her not. Despite living in Wallaroo with his wife, he was raised in Mallala, South Australia. Forbes’ occupation was a commission agent. Forbes was also part of the Methodist church, another branch of Christianity. He had no distinctive marks and was 6 feet which was above the average height. Forbes weighted 70 kg. He was a fairly lanky middle-aged man. Forbes had no prior military service.

Enrolment and Embarkation

Forbes decided to enrol into the military on the 27th of March 1916 as a private. Immediately, like all other enlisted soon to be soldiers, he began training until his embarkation. Mrs Forbes was listed as his next of kin. Forbes was allocated to the 10th Battalion, the 18th Reinforcement and embarked from Melbourne on board the HMAT A37 Barambah on 27th June 1916. His regimental number was 5837. The Barambah was a giant, SS Troopship vessel that was manned by Australian officers and a crew with cargo. It made 4 successful journeys to war zones. Forbes was on board the vessel when it was making its way from Melbourne to Plymouth in Britain. 

During the war

Upon landing in Plymouth, Thomas spent days training intensely in the Perham camp since the Allies required more soldiers in trenches as soon as possible. He was then transferred overseas to Etaples, near the mouth of the Somme River in France 2 days later. Forbes spent the next few months of intense training and getting to know his fellow soldiers.

On 29th October 1916, Forbes was transferred to the 48th Battalion, and joined his battalion two days later. Unfortunately, only 3 days in, the  conditions proved too much for Forbes and he soon developed a contagious disease, mumps. On the 3rd November 1916, the ill Forbes was admitted to the 39th Casualty Clearing Station and convalesced for a whole month. He rejoined his unit on 5th January 1917.

The first major action Forbes was involved would also prove to be his last. On 11th April, at the First Battle of Bullecourt, Forbes was recorded by his battalion as missing in action. A fellow soldier reported that, in the attack, Forbes' left arm had been smashed by shrapnel and he could not return to the lines. It was soon discovered that he was being kept as a prisoner of war in the German prison camp at Soltau. Either during his captivity or soon after returning to England, Forbes' wounded arm was amputated.

He was repatriated to England via Holland early in 1918; the Germans were confident he would not fight again. Soon in April, the injured Forbes is discharged to another hospitable, the 2nd Australian Auxiliary hospitable and recovered. In late July, Forbes boarded a ship to retunr to Australia.

After the war

After the war was resolved, Forbes was awarded two medals for his service in WW1. He received the British War Medal and Victory medal which was given to all Anzac soldiers who served overseas during the war. The medal had his name, rank and service number. How Thomas lived the rest of his life after the war is uncertain. It is most likely that he continued living peacefully with his wife in Wallaroo. Thomas Forbes Miller’s life finally comes to a peaceful end on 18 April 1933, being buried in the Plaque in South Australian Garden of Remembrance.

Bibliography

Canadian War museum 2012, the First World War, Canada, viewed 27 March 2020, <https://www.warmuseum.ca/firstworldwar/history/life-at-the-front/trench-conditions/rats-lice-and-exhaustion/>.

New Zealand History 2019, Ww1 abbreviations acronymns, viewed 24 March 2020, <https://nzhistory.govt.nz/war/ww1-abbreviations-acronymns>.

The AIF Project 2019, Aif, viewed 17 March 2020, <https://www.aif.adfa.edu.au/showPerson?pid=100866>.

Birtwistlewiki 2018, HMAT A37 Barambah, viewed 19 March 2020, <https://birtwistlewiki.com.au/wiki/HMAT_A37_Barambah>.

National Archives Australia 2015, Record Search, viewed 18 March 2020, <https://recordsearch.naa.gov.au/SearchNRetrieve/Interface/SessionTimeout.aspx>.

Trove 2015, Advance Search, viewed 23 March 2020, <https://trove.nla.gov.au/?q&adv=y>.

Australian War Memorial 2019, Australian Imperial Force unit war diaries, 1914-18 War, viewed 23 March 2020, <https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/AWM4/>.

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