Thomas Arthur (Tom) HELLMUTH

HELLMUTH, Thomas Arthur

Service Numbers: 328, Q185060, QX50074
Enlisted: 20 August 1914
Last Rank: Major
Last Unit: Northern Command Workshops
Born: Gympie, Queensland, 9 March 1893
Home Town: Woolloongabba, Brisbane, Queensland
Schooling: Not yet discovered
Occupation: Grocer
Died: Natural causes, Sandgate, Queensland, 14 August 1979, aged 86 years
Cemetery: Not yet discovered
Memorials:
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World War 1 Service

20 Aug 1914: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, SN 328, 9th Infantry Battalion
24 Sep 1914: Involvement AIF WW1, Lance Corporal, SN 328, 9th Infantry Battalion, Enlistment/Embarkation WW1
24 Sep 1914: Embarked AIF WW1, Lance Corporal, SN 328, 9th Infantry Battalion, HMAT Omrah, Brisbane
25 Apr 1915: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, SN 328, 9th Infantry Battalion, 'ANZAC' / Gallipoli
23 Jul 1916: Wounded Private, SN 328, 9th Infantry Battalion, Battle for Pozières , GSW (foot)
7 Jun 1917: Discharged AIF WW1, Private, SN 328, 9th Infantry Battalion, Medically unfit

World War 2 Service

23 Sep 1939: Enlisted Captain, SN Q185060, Brisbane, Queensland
24 Sep 1939: Involvement Captain, SN Q185060
17 Feb 1943: Involvement Captain, SN QX50074
30 Jun 1947: Discharged Captain, SN QX50074, Northern Command Workshops

Non Warlike Service

1 Jul 1947: Enlisted Australian Army (Post WW2), Captain, SN QX50074, Captain HELLMUTH enlisted in the 'Interim Army from 1 July 1947 After WWII from 1/7/1947 to 7 Jan 1949.
8 Jan 1949: Promoted Australian Army (Post WW2), Major, Honorary promotion to Major after discharge

World War 2 Service

Date unknown: Enlisted SN QX50074

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Biography

Theodor Johannes Gottleib Hellmuth married Mary Jane (Jennie May) Williams in Gympie, Queensland on 11 November 1896. Theodor was of German heritage but he had been born at Bethany, Logan Reserve, Queensland in 1871.

Birth registered as Thomas Arthur Henry Williams (Qld Birth Reg# C4839) - Thomas Hellmuth was born at Gympie on 9 March 1893, some 3½ years before his parents wed.

His brother Carl Eric Thomas Helmuth was born in Townsville on 21 January 1905. Janet May (Jennie) Hellmuth married a second time - to John Joseph Oswin in Queensland in 1905.

Enlistment

Thomas Arthur Hellmuth enlisted at Brisbane on 20 August 1914. It was barely a fortnight after England had declared war on Germany. A few officers in uniform and a number of men in civillian attire were pitching tents in Bell’s paddock, Enoggera. This was the beginning of the 9th Battalion, A.I.F.

Thomas declared his age as 22 years 6 months. His occupation was “grocer” but subsequent decades were to show he was a soldier at heart. He was 5 feet 7½ inches in height, weighed 130 pounds, of fair complexion, with brown eyes and brown hair. His religion was Methodist. He recorded his mother, Mrs Oswin, of Sword Street, Woolloongabba as his next of kin. His Service Number was 328. At the time, he was serving in the 8th Infantry (Oxley Battalion) that had been raised in 1912 from part of the 1/9th Australian Infantry Regiment.

On 12 September, at Enoggera, he was appointed to “C” Company of the 9th Infantry Battalion.

To Egypt and Lemnos

On 4 September 1914, he was promoted to Lance Corporal. He embarked at Brisbane on 24 September aboard HMAT A5 “Omrah” which was the first ship to leave Queensland with troops for the war. The men had marched in the dark from Enoggera and were all aboard by 8 am. Although there had been no word of the men’s departure, throughout the morning friends and relatives drifted to the wharf, such that a couple of hundred were in attendance to see the ship slip ropes and sail at about noon.

“Omrah” arrived at Melbourne on 28 September and spent three weeks there before proceeding. The battalion used the opportunity to route-march and practise attacking. The next port of call was King George’s Sound, Albany which was reached on 24 October. There, a convoy of vessels was assembled. The first ships departed on 1 November, coincidentally the day on which Russia declared war on Turkey, setting the scene for confrontation with an enemy, and in a place, not foreseen when the men enlisted. After being cheered by news of "Sydney" sinking the German cruiser “Emden”, the convoy reached Colombo, Ceylon.

From Colombo, the fleet sailed in divisions, according to speed, with the “Omrah” in the third and fastest. They sailed west and entered the Red Sea but, on 28 November, unwelcome rumours circulated. They would disembark at Port Said, rather than proceed to England. Nervously, they passed through the narrow Suez Canal which offered continual exposure to shell and sniping attack. Fears proved groundless, and on 4 December, “Omrah” reached Alexandria. Private Hellmuth and “C” Company disembarked at 4 pm on 6 December.

On 1 January 1915, the Australian battalions, previously consisting of eight companies, were reorganised to consist of four companies. “A” and “C” companies became the new “A” Company. Their training in Brigade formation now assumed priority. The men endured scorching days and freezing nights. On 30 January 1915, Private Hellmuth reverted to the rank of Private at his own request (although unconfirmed opposing family oral history says he lost his Corporal rank due to an indiscretion involvin too much wine in the Mess).

On 2 March, 3rd Brigade, including 9th Battalion on "Ionian”, sailed from Alexandria for Mudros harbour on the Greek island of Lemnos. By the morning of 5 March, the harbour was crowded with transport ships. If the Turks had any doubts of their enemies’ intent, it was now removed. All that remained to be known was when and where the attack would come. In the following seven weeks, the 3rd Brigade attended to training and, in particular, landing from boats and climbing steep escarpments.

Gallipoli

Private Hellmuth was in the first wave of infantry ashore at Gallipoli in the early hours of 25 April 1915 and, on the first Anzac Day, he suffered a gunshot wound to his right arm. On 4th May 1915, he was evacuated on the “Clan MacGillivray” and taken to Malta. He spent periods in Imtarfa, Valetta and St George’s Military Hospitals before being discharged on 7 July 1915 to Pembroke Convalescent Camp on St George’s Bay.

On 2 August 1917, Private Hellmuth embarked on “Oxoman” for the Dardanelles and his return to Gallipoli. He re-joined his unit on 7 August.

On 17 October 1915, he was suffering from pyrexia and was admitted to hospital at Anzac Cove. He was discharged back to his unit four days later. The battalion was finally withdrawn from Gallipoli on 16 November aboard the “Abbassia” and it arrived at Lemnos next day.

On 4 January 1916, the 9th Battalion disembarked from the “Grampian” at Alexandria. Its strength was 22 officers and 689 other ranks, including Private Hellmuth.

The Western Front

After a frustrating period of relative inactivity after the trials of Gallipoli, the 9th Battalion departed Alexandria on "Saxonia" on 26 March 1916 and arrived at Marseilles on 3 April. After a march to the railway station, it commenced a rail journey the length of France from south to north. They arrived at the little village of Godewaersvelde near Ypres on 5 April.

On 23 July 1916, Private Hellmuth was wounded in action at Pozieres when he suffered a gunshot wound to his foot which severely fractured the metatarsal bones. On 24 July, he was admitted to the 9th General Hospital at Rouen. On 26 July, he was evacuated from Le Havre aboard the Hospital Ship “Gloucester Castle” to the Beaufort Hospital, Bristol, England where he was admitted on 27 July.

On 25 October 1916, he was transferred to the No.3 Australian Auxiliary Hospital in Dartford, Kent. He was granted periods of furlough but preparations were being made for his repatriation to Australia. Infantry march on their feet and Private Hellmuth's permanent incapacity in his wounded foot would prevent his return to active service in the line.

Repatriation to Australia

On 22 February 1917, Private Hellmuth embarked at Avonmouth aboard the Hospital Ship “Karoola”. The vessel departed London docks on 2 March bound for Australia. He disembarked at Sydney on 14 April 1917.

He was discharged from the A.I.F at Brisbane on 7 June 1917. He moved temporarily to Sword St., Woolloongabba to live with his mother. From the 8 June, he was awarded a war service pension of three pounds sterling per fortnight.

Between the Wars

Thomas Hellmuth was issued the 1914-15 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.

In the Queensland Electoral Roll of 1919, Thomas Hellmuth was recorded c/o Oswin, Logan Road, Woolloongabba. His occupation was “grocer”.

Thomas Hellmuth married Ruby Pearce on 4 November 1922 in Christ Church, Church of England, Brisbane. Ruby was a native of Redruth, Cornwall, Wales. They were to have two daughters- Valma Doris Hellmuth born on 11 December 1926 and Claire Pearce Hellmuth born on 20 August 1930.

Thomas’ father died on 5 April 1925. In the Electoral Roll of that year, Thomas and Ruby were recorded at McLay Street, Coorparoo which was to remain their principal home through their lives together. Thomas was a “grocer”.

On 24 July 1929, the “Brisbane Courier” reported: “According to the latest gazette notice with the Australian Army Orders, Captain T.A. Hellmuth of the 15th Battalion, South Brisbane, has been awarded the Colonial Force’s Long Service Medal. Captain Hellmuth first began his military career as a Private in the 1st Queensland Rifles which he joined on 14 February 1911. He has been actively associated with the volunteer and compulsory regiments, and also enlisted and saw fighting during the Great War. For 137 days, he was a Private in the 1st Queensland Rifles, and held a similar rank for one year and 83 days in the Oxley Battalion. He served with the 8th Infantry for 314 days as Corporal. He became Colour-Sergeant on 4 August 1913, and Company Sergeant-Major on 10 April 1918. He held the same rank with the 2nd Battalion of the 15th Regiment and with the 15th Battalion until 1 March 1924 when he gained his commission with the 15th Battalion. He was appointed Captain, a position he still holds with the 15th Battalion, on 27 June 1923. Captain Hellmuth served with the A.I.F. in the 9th Battalion for almost three years.”

Thomas’ brother, Carl, married Amy Caroline Wright in Cairns in 1933. The couple had four children. Carl died in Cairns in 1950. Amy remarried to Ernest Ricks and had two more children. She died in Rockhampton in 2007.

Service in World War 2

On 20 September 1939, only weeks after war was declared, Captain Thomas Hellmuth, Q185060, was transferred from the reserve of Officers to the Infantry Militia, Brisbane. His address was 155 Logan Road, South Brisbane. On 23 September, he reported for duty as Camp Commandant, 15th Battalion, Northern Command.

On 15th April 1942, he transferred from Camp Commandant – Northern Command to Camp Commandant – Headquarters Lines of Communication.

On 20 July 1945, he presented to the 4th Australian Camp hospital suffering from cellulitis in his right foot. The bacterial infection of skin and tissue is not uncommon in areas that have suffered severe trauma. He was transferred to the 112th General Hospital at Greenslopes. Only opened in 1942, the 112th would become “Greenslopes Repatriation Hospital, Brisbane”. The trauma of his wound from 1916 would inconvenience him for his entire life. He was discharged from hospital on 10 August.

On 30 June 1947 while he was still Commandant of the Northern Command Workshops, he ceased his secondment to the A.I.F. but he immediately commenced secondment with the Interim Army.

On 16 October 1947, he embarked at Sydney on HMAS “Kanimbla” as Draft Conducting Officer for Japan. In this role, his duty was to accompany a cadre of reinforcements from Australia to their new posting in occupation of Japan. He eventually returned to Brisbane and disembarked on 15 December.

On 20 November 1947, he had been awarded the Australian Efficiency Decoration.

On 16 May 1948, he was marched out from Northern Command Headquarters to Northern Command Workshops. His service in the Interim Army was terminated on 7 January 1949.

Thomas’ brother, Carl, Q116184, served with the Volunteer Defence Corps from 1942 to 1945. At discharge, he held the rank of Corporal.

After the Second World War

In the Electoral Roll of 1949, Thomas, Ruby and Valma were recorded at McLay St., Coorparoo. Their occupations were “soldier”, “home duties” and “clerk-typist” respectively. Through to the Roll of 1968, Thomas and Ruby continued to live in McLay Street and Thomas to declare his occupation as “soldier”.

Valma married in December 1951. Claire’s engagement was announced to Henry William Thomas, a fitter, in August 1952. The couple married and they lived in Bundamba and Ipswich. Thomas’ step-father, John Oswin, died in 1956 and his mother Jane died on 21 July 1963 in South Brisbane.

In the Queensland Electoral Roll of 1972, Thomas and Ruby were recorded at 1972 Gold Coast Highway, Miami. Ruby died on 24 November 1974.

Thomas Arthur Hellmuth, ex-A.I.F., died on 14 August 1979 at Sandgate, Queensland.

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